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Growing

Chapter Text

Hermione lay on her bed, feeling the conflicting feelings of guilt and pleasure - not just any pleasure, quite extensive pleasure.

Her belly was still growing bigger. Granted, it wasn't surprising given how much she'd been eating at the Great Hall lately, but still, the fact that her actions had tangible consequences was strangely refreshing. She felt guilt because - well, didn't everyone who put on a few feel guilty about it? But the pleasure...that was a different story.

Perhaps it was just because of her miserable experience in the ministry, where nothing she ever did made an impact irrespective of her hero status - misogyny prevented her influence from transcending from an era of war to an era of peace. Perhaps it was just because of her health-obsessed parents and their desire for their girl to have perfect teeth, perfect skin, and a perfect body. Perhaps it was just because she thought she was sexier this way, and loved the way every step she took made her little pot-belly and thickening thighs jiggle in an incredibly erotic way. Or perhaps it was all of these things.

In any case, Hermione found herself reflecting on these complicated feelings about her weight gain within the privacy of her new Hogwarts bedroom. As she contemplated this new home of hers - with its walls, painted a turquoise blue; its furnishings, old and comfortable, newly upholstered with silky velvet brocade; its living picture, a landscape reminiscent of Van Gogh's - all of it made her feel safe and comfortable.

Making this cozy domestic picture even more cozy, there was a gentle knock on the door.

"Come in," said Hermione, sitting up and straightening her robes.

Professor McGonagall - who else would it be, really? - stood outside, and she smiled faintly.

"Hermione. May I come in?"

"Of course!" exclaimed Hermione, and bustled to move some books out of her guest chair.

"Thank you," said Minerva once she was seated. "I trust your preparations are going well. Do you have any questions for me?"

"Not at the moment," said Hermione cheerfully. "I think you know I'm not afraid to ask when I do."

"I do indeed," said Minerva, "but it is my duty to ensure you know I am receptive."

"Thank you," said Hermione with a smile. "Care for a biscuit?"

"My, my," said Minerva, daintily. "Isn't everyone taking a leaf out of Albus' book. Every time I go to talk to someone, they order me to take a biscuit. My waistline can't stand that many biscuits."

"I'm sorry," said Hermione with a laugh, "if you prefer, I won't offer them to you, then."

"No, don't do that," said Minerva, "you'd better share them. Your own waistline can't stand that many more biscuits, from what I can see."

Hermione felt her hand, against her mind's will, move to her belly and grab the nice round muffin-top that had grown there the past several years.

And she shrugged, trying not to let it bother her. Honestly, the men at the ministry had been far worse about it. "Erm, sure. But let's keep it professional, shall we?"

Minerva, knowing she'd transgressed, backpedaled. "Yes. Of course. On that note," she went on, "I… I have some news that is not going to please you much."

"Oh," said Hermione, raising an eyebrow. "And what is that?"

"It's about… oh… well…" Minerva was clearly uncomfortable, and then with a deep breath she blurted out, "Severus Snape."

Hermione shrugged, but if you looked more deeply you would see that her eyes were wider, her lips parted just slightly, and her face slightly more tinged with worry. "What about him? I heard they had cleared his name. Poor man. I'll never regret anything more than I did letting him die like that."

"Yes," said Minerva, fretfully. "About that. The fact of the matter is, he isn't really dead."

"What?" exclaimed Hermione with a rush of anger and confusion leaping into her face. "Not dead? What do you mean? Are you saying he had some sort of…"

And even then, she began to piece together the truth - she'd seen Severus grasping at his lapel at some point during his...experience… and she'd not paid it any attention at the time, being too paralyzed with fear to really think about what to do.

Oh, who was she kidding. She had only been grappling with the question of whether or not she should let him die. She'd had an antidote to Nagini's poison on her person constantly for months, one of many crafts she'd made in the woods with Harry's help. With a dark lord on the loose, carrying a pet snake like that, it'd be only a fool who'd not keep some emergency kit for the eventuality that something would happen.

And, of course, there was the solution - Severus wasn't a fool, same as her. And he'd also had a potion ready and waiting for once she and Harry left the room.

She sighed. "So where's he been all these years?"

Minerva shook her head. "That I'm not really allowed to tell you much about. In fact, there's not much I know for sure. However, given his recent clear of recognition, he decided to come out of the woodwork and take up potions again."

Hermione's look of horror was all too telling, and Minerva laughed.

"Of course, my dear, he's not going to take your job. He's always hated teaching, as I'm sure you might guess. He's going to come back in a research capacity. He spent most of his time away from our world, apparently, devising some healing potions of some nature. And he's got some papers published. He wants Hogwarts to revive the old academic conferences, which was something he and Albus were always banging heads about. I see no reason not to, given the right circumstances."

Hermione sighed. "That actually sounds perfect for him."

Minerva nodded. "That's what I think. I'd never let him come back to teach. Albus was a dunce about that one. If you're going to have a double agent on your staff, don't saddle him with the full responsibilities of teaching as well. No wonder the poor man was always so irascible. He was performing two overworked, underpaid jobs for the price of one. And he hated both of them."

Hermione had never thought about that before, and she was somewhat surprised that Minerva was being so charitable when just years ago Minerva felt so betrayed by Severus' apparent defection.

She held her tongue, however.

"So I'll still be teaching my classes the way I want to," she said satisfied. "Fine, that's all I care about."

"Is it?" asked Minerva, and Hermione immediately rolled her eyes.

"God, Minerva, don't you dare."

"I do indeed dare, it's one of the finer points of being nearly a century old - it doesn't matter if I dare or do not dare, so when I feel like it, I dare!" said Minerva with a Dumbledore-esque twinkle. "So, I just want to make sure that things will not be… uncomfortable… between you and Severus."

"Oh, come on," said Hermione, and she threw herself down flat on the bed. "This was a schoolgirl crush. Nothing more. Can't you just let it go?"

"I believe," Minerva said, with a dull smile, "that you're not going to persuade me that it's 'nothing more' by acting like a spoilt toddler, Hermione."

"Well," said Hermione flatly, "I don't know what you expect me to say. I was attracted to him when I was a schoolgirl. Before I'd ever even had sex, Minerva. And since, I've barely even thought of him. Don't you dare tell me that you expect I'll go silly the moment he turns up."

(She winced when she realized she'd said barely even thought of him. Oops. Way to hide your old unresolved feelings effectively, Hermione!)

And Minerva, having made her point, got up to leave. "Anyways," she said, standing, "just thought I'd let you know right away. Forgive me," she added as she bustled towards the door, "I should admit, Hermione, that I've known he was alive and returning for some time now. I delayed so long in telling you because I just couldn't stand to see you run away because an unpleasant old face showed up again."

"So you waited until my syllabi were all drawn up and confirmed," said Hermione with a dashing smile. "Very well, Minerva. I think that was prudent, but please know it shouldn't have caused you any worry. I'm an adult, and as long as he behaves himself, I'm sure we'll get along just fine. Thank you for the chat, see you at lunch."

"My pleasure," said Minerva, "and thanks for the biscuit. But please, dear, don't eat anymore yourself - you don't need them."

"See you later," said Hermione blandly. And as soon as the door clicked shut, she picked up a biscuit right then and there and began eating it with relish.

She wasn't precisely pleased to see Severus, but it sounded like he had got his act together, and wanted to get some activities that would benefit both her and their profession well. She could at least be supportive.

 


Several readers in later chapters have mentioned they're put off by the dimensions of Hermione. I should mention that I have indeed put scrupulous thought into this, and my Hermione is literally only 5'0 tall, so if her weights and measures appear a bit off, it's likely because you're comparing her measures with your own, and most people reading this fic are taller and have a lower body fat percentage. Even a few inches of height can make or break being fat vs. merely chubby. Also, if you're looking at your own weights and measures as a comparison, and you work out, chances are a proportion of your pounds are actually muscle - Hermione's body fat percentage, however, is quite high because she doesn't work out at all in this fic. (Again, see: strongblatant disregard for health /strongas a content note for this fic.)

One livejournaler summarized concisely many of the objections that many people have about this fic. "The word fat is a derogatory term, and there are other terms which are better used to describe women in the plus sizes then fat. Glorifying any kind of unhealthy behavior is wrong. This is no different then using cutting, anorexia or bulemia as ones kink." Let's unpack this a second.

My choice to use the term "fat" is an act of reclaiming a word that has been used to oppress, shame, and stigmatize people of size. Some people object to the choice of using the word 'queer' when they mean gay/lesbian/bi+, but in the same sense, my attempt is to reclaim the word and use it in a more value-neutral way. Or even a positive way! Wow!

Re: "Glorifying any unhealthy behavior is wrong:" I will be the first to concede that this fic is a celebration of hedonism, hedonism that often comes at the expense of health. This is *not* exactly the same as bulimia and anorexia, since with those diseases there's a chance of immediate mortality associated with starvation and binge/purge behaviors. Instead, there's a chance of long-term mortality associated with binge eating as described in this fic. I make no claims otherwise, and neither do the characters. There is some self-destructive content involved in the characters' development as this fic progresses. Far from celebrating this, I do this in an attempt to humanize the struggle. This is where my fic diverges from most fiction in the genre of weight gain and kink, which frequently hand-wave health issues away. For what it's worth, I think most mature practitioners of this kink recognize and acknowledge the health issues associated with this kink. Same as something like self-asphyxiation, however, part of the reason that it's a kink and not a commonly accepted mating practice is because of the non-normative elements such as self-destructive tendencies. So criticizing the lack of healthiness of this kink is, well, silly. It's a kink. It's not supposed to be healthy. To some extent, that's why it's a kink. (Not all kinks are unhealthy, I need to note! But many of them can be perceived that way.) This is a story about people with a self-destructive, potentially life-threatening kink (erotic weight gain) who are learning how to manage it, together, and live the best lives they can despite it.

I do take umbrage at this same livejournaler, who also said, "And the writer decided to also change the fact Severus died just so they can get their kink fix." Puh-lease, plenty of people do this, and many with significantly poorer justification than I provide in this story. FWIW, there's a community on I saw once called "Severus Snape Survival Stories." Hasn't been updated in forever, but it's evidence that some people specifically like this stuff. I personally seek it out - I like for Snape to have a better ending than canon gave him, despite all his abusiveness and other flaws. (Which I've significantly toned down and explained in this fic.) So there. Hmph.

Chapter Text

Hermione was, despite herself, and despite her disavowals to McGobagal, eager to see her old professor. Perhaps it was just because she had left him on such a regretful note. Perhaps it just was the fact that she was eager to see him in a new light - as a colleague, a fellow potions specialist. Perhaps it was just out of reminiscence - she remembered he was a world-class asshole, but somehow she felt like he couldn't have been that bad. It was somewhat endearing, as far as she remembered. (And, honestly, she commisserated with his frustration with dunderheads.) Of course, she told herself, it was *not* because of her (former!) crush on him. Such would be silly.

The day he was slated to arrive, she was disappointed not to see him. He was not at lunch, breakfast, or dinner. The next day was the same - no sight of him.

With a week before the start of term, she was beginning to despair of seeing him at all, much less getting to talk with him. In her state of worry, she automatically assumed that once term started, she'd never see him - and thus her only chance to convene with him was during this first week.

Then, the third day, she was early to the Great Hall for breakfast. Only Pomona Sprout and Madam Hooch were there, keeping their covert romantic breakfast-dates as they'd been doing for the past fifty years, so they could hold hands without attracting the less mature students' attention.

But someone was there who wasn't supposed to be there - an unfamiliar figure doing its best to slink in and out of the hall unnoticed with a plate piled high with food, and pockets bulging besides.

Hermione was incredulous as she watched the rotund and truly fat Professor Snape - previously the svelte and lithe Professor Snape - debate between two flavors of pastry, considering them both equally, with a forefinger on his pursed lips. Unable to decide, he grabbed them both and shoved them in his pocket. Then, for good measure, he grabbed an extra and took a bite out of it right then and there.

And then, feeling eyes on him, he turned. And - despite all past empirical evidence that he was as cold blooded a fish as any that had ever walked the halls of Hogwarts - he blushed furiously red.

But as was his talent, he suppressed his mortification as soon as it began to show, and as he was singularly capable, he completely reversed the situation to make it appear that it was Hermione who had been embarrassed, not him.

"Miss Granger," he said, as if she were an uninteresting speck of porridge on the floor, "I heard you would be here on staff." His voice was even deeper than she remembered it, and it rumbled out of him powerfully, like a burst of highly-pressured water coming out of a mess of old pipes.

"Many congratulations to you. You've discovered the world is too harsh a place for your fragile ego and you've come back to Hogwarts to console yourself amongst the familiarity of books and learning. I'm frankly surprised that you did not take on the role of second-wind student before now; it seems your naïveté was worse than I imagined." With that, he took a few wolfish bites of his pastry, as if daring her to comment on his choice of breakfast.

Any illusions that Hermione had had regarding her old professor came crashing down at this moment. Yes. He really was more awful than she remembered. And no, he was not going to be kinder to her as a teacher than she was a student.

And yes, his words stung because he was right, at least in respect to her naïveté. (She should have known better than to try and change the world.)

"Good morning to you too, you old grump," she said with a flash of nervousness. Granted, she wished she could be more venomous, that she could compete with him in a battle of cruel wits - but he had years of practice, and she was genuinely kind of heart, if resentful at times.

Still, even this small retaliation brought forth a combination of fear and exhileration. It was a fascinating and strange feeling to be disrespectful to a professor - much less Severus Snape.

He glared at her sternly. But she didn't feed into his haughty attitude - he was giving her just enough rope to hang herself, and she wasn't interested.

Overall, she was just disappointed.

As he seemed to be waiting for her to say something else, she decided she wasn't going to bother postponing her breakfast any longer. She turned her back, flounced over to the table, and sat herself down smack in the center - the place she could be concurrently farthest from Pomona and Rolanda, as well as Snape.

Snape appeared mildly surprised. For a moment, he focused again on the pastries on the table in front of him, then looked torn between escaping and continuing to needle her. Given the innate bully that he was, he opted for the latter.

He scooped up another pastry and sat down at the table directly next to her, going significantly out of his way. Which in and of itself was strange, Hermione noted. It looked like he was indeed planning to talk to her. Though heaven knew why!

"So," she said helping herself to a serving of scrambled eggs that was fully intended to satiate her until lunch, "You're doing research."

"Yes," he responded, as if he was trying to decide if she were testing him.

"I'm honestly glad," she said, pointedly not making eye contact. "You didn't seem to enjoy teaching. Either that, or you enjoyed it too much."

His stomach audibly gurgled by way of an answer, and he very carefully pulled a small vial of what looked to be antacid pills out of his sleeve, poured three into his hand, and then took them dry, clapping his hand to his mouth carelessly.

"Sure," he said, by way of response to what she said. He still sounded hesitant, as if he was expecting her to say something sharp to him.

She tried to take a bite of her eggs, but couldn't stomach them until she got the obvious elephant out of the room. Without looking up, she began. "I… I must tell you," she said awkwardly, "I'm… I'm really sorry I didn't try to do something when I saw you last."

And she couldn't look up at him. So she kept staring at her eggs, stirring some clumps them in the scattered salt she'd put on the side of her plate.

"Well." Snape sounded mollified, if not somewhat amused. "Given what you knew, it seems unsporting to have expected anything else from you. Moreover," and now he sounded genuinely curious, "what on earth could you have done?"

Hermione shrugged.

"I had a potion on me that would have, at least I thought at the time, worked against the poison in your system."

"What was its composition?" His tone was crisp, objective. She felt immediately as if she were a teenager back in his potions class.

"Brown ochre as a platelet tag, willow bark as a blood thinner, syrlinase as a toxin absorbtion inhibitor, microsilicone as a conduit, essence of bezoar as an agent, paraffin as a preservative, bound by arithmantic spells that I adapted from the Apparentless Lesion potion."

She looked up, automatically searching his face for his begrudging approval.

He merely kept one eyebrow raised, expectantly.

"And I know now, it wouldn't have worked," she said, head sinking. "I figured out a few years ago - this would have worked well for an emergency anti-lycanthropy potion, with the addition of wolfsbane and balancing the dynads accordingly, but of course it wouldn't have helped with a reptile's venom. In my defense, I came up with this hodgepodge brew with inadequate resources: all I had were two books with any notes on venoms and toxins, and one had an extensive section on mammalian rabies and similarly transmitted diseases, and other was a book on spiders."

Snape just looked at her with the same curious, smirking gaze, which made Hermione feel like she had just failed.

Therefore, she was floored when he said, "And this is why we need honors-level courses at this institution. It baffles my mind, to this day, why Albus thought it was remotely appropriate, from a basic educational point of view, to let someone like you struggle to remain engaged and interested in a class dumbed down to meet the needs of someone like Potter. I tried to teach to the median of the class - but when the median was so unclear, it was all I could do to keep you all from exploding yourselves every day."

He sighed, and visibly let his guard down, his shoulders slouching and his belly's rolls pooching in front of him as his posture loosened. "Fortunately, Minerva won't stand for that kind of nonsense. Nor will you, I hope. I am confident that between the two of you, Hogwarts will regain its standing as an institution of actual repute."

He took a bite of the rashers and kidneys from his plate, then tidily dabbed the corner of his mouth. "Then again," he said, thoughtfully, "perhaps Hogwarts' reputation was all a grand illusion from the start, if the likes of Albus Dumbledore was allowed to remain in power as long as he did."

"Oh," Hermione said, catching her bearings. She was still reeling at the fact that Professor Snape thought she was honors-level material. "Well, as it happens, I did some research about that. Turns out he was breaking all sorts of codes, coaxing loopholes around him and such. Nothing he was doing was anything more than technically legal by the letter of the laws set down by the founders. After all, how could he be in accordance with their values with such an autocratic reign as his was? Traditionally, there's supposed to be at least two head-masters at any given time, though in the times of greatest economic bounty, the ideal was to have four, one for each house, with no single person sewing together their differences."

"Hm," Snape said, taking a few more careful, slow bites of his food, as if he was afraid she was going to take it away if he ate too fast. "I did not know this. I can't even imagine what that would have been like. Where'd you learn that?"

"Restricted section," said Hermione glibly. "There was all sorts of reading banned at a whim by Dumbledore. It's pretty sickening, really, how much he relied on ignorance to reinforce his strictures."

"In almost every way," Snape said blandly, "he was a sick, sick man."

Their eyes met in intense agreement.

"On my part, I… I can't even imagine what it must have been like, to be emotionally manipulated by him for so many years," said Hermione softly, without realizing what she was saying.

Snape's face grew dark, and he stabbed pointedly at a bite of kidney.

"On my part," he snapped back, "I can't even imagine what it must be like to live a normal life where the rest of world doesn't know my secrets."

"I- I'm sorry," said Hermione, backpedaling immediately.

"Moreover," Snape went on, his face curled into a snarl, "I can't even imagine what it have been like to have been the best friend of Harry Potter, the petulant arse who wasn't supposed to live past his usefulness as a pawn in Albus' great drama for the greater good."

With this, Hermione stood up, grabbing her plate. "And this is my cue to leave. Goodbye. Enjoy your miserable bitter life."

Snape rolled his eyes. "Stop being indignant. When's the last time he even called you?"

Hermione bit her lip. She didn't even remember herself. Was it a few months? A few years?

"What does it matter to you?" she responded hotly. "I prefer the friend who thinks fondly of me but sucks at keeping in touch to my ex-professor who can't respect one of the nation's greatest heroes - who also just happens to be my closest friend."

He looked at her, and laughed sadly.

"Well then. I guess that's fair." He began to pick at his food, and again his stomach rumbled.

Hermione decided to sit down again. "Why aren't you eating?" she asked, frowning. "It's going to get cold."

He turned and gave her a dead-on look. "Seriously?" he asked, clearly incredulous that she would encourage him to eat.

She stared back at him, unfazed. "You're obviously hungry. Don't hold back on my account. Far be it for me to judge you."

Casting a side-glance at her, he proceeded to eat, though conservatively. Hermione could tell he lusted after another plate or two. Heaven knows she herself was hungry enough for a second serving.

Deciding that, in fact, she'd go ahead and get that second serving, she stood and made a gesture towards his plate. "Want me to spoon you some more?"

Snape muttered, "I've heard that one before," under his breath, which made Hermione almost drop her plate with a giggle.

He didn't actually answer for a moment, as he seemed to survey the damage on her plate, the expanding pudge at her middle, and the amount of food left at the staff serving-table.

Then, with a nod, he pushed his empty plate towards her. "No potatoes," he said, by way of instruction.

Hermione, feeling gratified - as though somehow she'd been allowed entrance into some deep secret place in his mind - went and served him several generous scoops of everything there was on the table, with a couple extra pastries on the side.

He didn't say anything other than a grunted, "Thanks," when she brought it back, but she saw he attacked it ravenously, and once in a while as he ate, he cast her a mysterious glance - whether it was one of appreciation or disgust, she could not tell.

Of course, she was also watching him as she was eating. It was hard to keep her fingers attached to her fork and knife, away from the succulent love-handles that he'd grown, the ponderous overhang that spilled over his trousers, and the thick double-chin that threatened towards a third. It was even harder to keep her eyes away from his bulging stomach, with its growing folds and ripples that wiggled seductively every time he leaned forward to take a big bite of pastry over his plate.

She ate, he ate, and they covertly looked at each other.

Then, just as suddenly as they'd begun their conversation, they left the Great Hall, headed their separate ways.

Chapter Text

She didn't see him again for over a week, though truly she was not trying to find him. She had plenty on her mind aside from the strange new changes to her ex-professor.

Unlike some gifted folks, Hermione was a genuinely good teacher, and she used her prep time to its fullest advantage. Not to mention having a time-turner again made her dizzy with delight - of course she'd known that all the teachers had one - how else could they teach so many sections each? - but she was only beginning to appreciate the use of one as a professor.

And as she dashed around completing tasks, she found herself gaining weight at an alarming rate. Almost every other real-life day - which given her heavy turner usage was the equivalent of nearly 36 hours - she felt her body a little different. Usually it was softer, or the accumulating fat had shifted somewhat. Overall she felt increasingly satisfied with herself - she was working hard, engaged, excited, and happy. And with every added ounce, she felt like it was just that much more evidence of her incredibly comfortable and enjoyable life.

And other people were noticing.

She didn't see Snape for nearly a week in real life, possibly because, in Hermione's opinion, he had rendered himself slightly too vulnerable in their last conversation. In her mind, he was deeper than he let on, and while she felt complicated feelings about him - specifically regarding how much of an asshole he was - she found herself retracing her old, convoluted, matted thoughts that his bite must be a protective effort to prevent his soft underbelly from being exposed and violated.

Though, granted, that metaphor was particularly apt these days.

She next encountered him in the great hall, as last time she had seen him, he was doing the same thing as before, filling his plate and pockets and looking like he was ready to dash.

"Miss Granger," he said, his mouth crawling into an intimidating smile. (He seemed to be doing this particular gesture a lot lately , Hermione realized. Snape smiling in any capacity was odd.)

"How are you finding the time turning life?" asked Snape when she saw him next. He was grinning at her in a predatory manner as she helped herself to what was effectively her third breakfast of the day (though her body was craving dinner).

"Completely enjoyable," said Hermione, settling down and helping herself to generous portions. "Though annoying that I can't come downstairs and see your pretty face for breakfast three times over. I don't like eating in my office alone. But you know the story. Quantum mechanics and all that."

"Ah ," said Snape with a smile that said he knew full well she didn't think his face pretty, but he was going to hold her to her words someday. He also was clearly unsure whether or not he intended to sit with her.

She made the choice easier by patting the place at the table next to her. "Join me?"

He gave a horselike grunt and sat with her. She particularly enjoyed the view of him spreading his legs wide enough to accommodate his belly, so that he could successfully stuff his stomach under the table.

"So why is that," he asked, noncommittally, "why don't you like eating in your office alone?"

She knew the reasons well, of course, but she was figuring out that interacting with Snape was a kind of art form.

Therefore instead of launching into an enthusiastic analysis, she shrugged with affected ennui. "I count meals as social time. When I can't, it means that I'm not getting that needed boost of social energy."

"I see." He pursed his lips and said nothing else, just analyzing her.

"So tell me," Hermione said, feeling like talking to him was like pulling teeth, "do you use the time turner these days?"

"Never," he answered, in a slow drawl. "At least not in my dotage. No need to, after all. Experiments and explosions, they rush for no person."

"Wouldn't you still be able to use them," Hermione said brightly, "for when you're writing on a deadline? I certainly like that flexibility."

Snape shrugged. "Honestly," he said with a scowl, "I just don't enjoy using time turners. They always make me feel like I'm going to chuck my bile on the head of the next poor sod who cuts me off in the hallway. Thus they thoroughly take away my appetite."

This was another subtle little test, and Hermione could tell, because he seemed to be daring her to riff off of his weight. He stared at her with the audacity of a London rat that had been caught in a pantry. So what, he seemed to say, you're the fool in this situation. I'm perfectly at peace with what I am - how this conversation goes is entirely on you .

And while Hermione was not sure how she would react to a rat in her pantry, staring her down, she was not repulsed by Snape and his diehard attitude.

Instead of turning his weight into the joke he seemed to expect, she said, congenially, "So that's why you used to be so skinny, then."

He seemed inordinately pleased at this response. "Yes and no," he said with more congeniality than she could have guessed he would reciprocate, "I've always eaten a lot, except when I used the time turner. It's just my metabolism that's caught up to me."

"Well, I guess I'm suffering the same fate," Hermione said, struggling not to blush.

"How strange," Snape said, sounding bored. "I assumed women were a monolithic group who could only be thin by starving themselves or something."

"Some, I guess," Hermione said, not sure if he was serious or not. "Maybe I'm different, but I never starved myself."

"Hoo fucking ray," he responded, but his bite was not as frosty as usual. "Now tell me," he said, appearing thoroughly fatigued of the conversation, "Is your curiosity surrounding my ample size subdued to a more decent level, or are we going to have to keep chit-chatting about it all day?"

What a strange question. Startled, Hermione turned her head and found herself meeting Severus face to face - how he'd got himself in that position so soundlessly, she had no idea. But either way, she felt her most recent thoughts swimming to the surface of her mind - oh no!

Feeling her face grow hot, she saw the swarm of thoughts that had sprung to mind the moment he asked about the state of her curiosity.

And oh - these were dirty thoughts.

She had three involuntary fantasies that had come to mind. First, she'd had the fantasy of shoving him back in his chair, ripping off his pants, and sucking him dry right there in the Great Hall. She saw herself on her knees, tucking her fingers under the folds of his magnificent belly and grabbing it by the sides, putting her lips on his plump throbbing member. She saw him rear back in ecstasy, his face taut and hot as his body contracted and flexed with pleasure. She saw herself stroke his belly and cover his member with a liberal amount of sweet rosehip jam, which she licked off with pleasure.

The second scenario involved her plump body, bare on the table, and Severus in an authoritative position, efficiently gathering ingredients while keeping her clit tightly squeezed between two of his meaty, strong fingers. Then he began to feed her, bite after bite of rich corn bread stuffing, giving her a delightful squeeze of pleasure every time she swallowed. This meant that she was constantly on the edge of coming, but never quite there, no matter how fast she ate. And once it seemed she had eaten every bite she could fit into her body, he gathered salts, spices, and oils and began to massage her great fat belly and every other spot of skin on her body, as if preparing her to be shoved in an oven. He also put an apple in her mouth, which she could suck the juice of. She moaned with pleasure at these sensations until he finally disrobed himself and began to fuck her, and she was stuffed in every conceivable way, doing her best to not scream with pleasure (lest she lose the apple).

And then there was the coup de gras - Hermione imagined herself a hundred pounds fatter, her body jiggling with every movement, and Severus was licking her cunt, flowery-white with whipped cream and syrup, as she ate grapes and chocolate-covered berries. She was reading aloud from a book of incredibly sexy literature. A relatively famous book of gay literature, as it happened, about two fat men eating and fucking each other while reading, a la Tristan and Isolde. (In short, fucking and eating while reading about another couple fucking and eating that was reading about another couple fucking and eating). And somehow this seemed to intrigue them both so much that Hermione had to put the book down, and Severus fucked her as she lay there on the couch, both of them sweating with the effort but pleased by the end of it.

All of these were conveyed in the blink of an eye, and Snape seemed both fascinated and repulsed by what he'd found.

"How utterly complex," Severus the non-fantasy person said, and stared into Hermione's eyes with a strange fire of passion that she'd only seen in movies.

It seemed like he was about to kiss her. And Hermione probably would have kissed him back, if he had.

But as the fog of desire drained away, she realized what had just happened, and she dropped her fork.

"That," she said breathlessly, "that was not okay."

"You seem pretty okay to me," said Snape cooly, going back to his food with measured caution.

"No," she said, and she stood. "That was not okay, Severus Snape. That was not okay. Bad man." She said this as if she were scolding a dog - but she didn't really know how else to convey the seriousness of the situation to him. She knew Snape had a habit of violating peoples' minds - at least Harry's - but she didn't think he would do this with a colleague.

She had the sinking feeling that, no, he just didn't see her as his colleague. He saw her as an upstart trying desperately to justify her existence to a world that was neutral towards her.

Hadn't he said as much the other day?

With that, she collected her bag and raced out of the Great Hall.

She didn't know what he thought he was, but he wasn't going to be able to get away with this.

Chapter Text

Predictably, Hermione was not hungry any more. She found herself in McGonagall's office, and her emotions were wavering between righteous anger and blubbery sobs.

McGonagall's response was to reluctantly push Albus' old bowl of lemon drops towards Hermione. Despite what she knew about Dumbledore's unfortunate two-faced decision-making, she still felt a fondness for him swell up as she contemplated the bowl, then took two drops and put them in her mouth.

"I suppose I understand why Albus kept these," McGonagall said with some distaste. "It saves one the trouble of getting up and offering someone a hug."

"I guess you haven't figured out how to get rid of them, it seems," Hermione said, taking a deep breath while sucking on the drops.

"No chance," said the headmistress with a sigh. "They seem to never end. Even when I had Neville in here the other day, and he stuffed himself silly with them out of nervousness - I could swear he ate a gallon of them, and yet the supply never grew small."

"Wait," Hermione said, finding herself smiling despite what had just happened downstairs. "Is Neville joining the staff?"

"Yes," said McGonagall, "though heaven knows why I hired him. I swear, if his grandmother didn't frighten me so much, I probably wouldn't have even seen him for an interview."

Hermione laughed. "He's a Hufflepuff at heart," she said, "so at least he'll be hardworking and helpful."

"So it would seem," said McGonagall dryly. Then she went on, standing to play around with the potted plants she'd been letting take over her office, "now that you're a bit more composed - what happened with Severus?"

"He - used legilimency on me," said Hermione, her voice dropping low in a confused mix of shame and anger at Snape.

"Explain." McGonagall was impassive.

"I mean," Hermione said, trying to stand up for herself, "we were talking, and he asked me suddenly a fairly inappropriate question, and he was suddenly looking into my eyes, and he saw a bunch of very - very private thoughts. And when I told him that he could not do that, he told me that I looked like I had enjoyed it, and dismissed me. So I came up here. So," she said, feeling a bit breathless, "that's what happened."

"I see," said McGonagall, thinking for a moment. Then, leaning primly forward, she asked, "So what was it that you were talking about?"

Hermione felt her face flush a thousand times over. She wasn't about to tell her mentor - and the person she respected most in the world - what they'd been talking about, at least she wasn't going to tell without thinking about it for a moment.

"Well," she said, stalling and gathering her thoughts, "erm."

"Was it sexual?" asked McGonagall without an inch of sympathy.

"Erm," Hermione said, and tried to think back to the moment. It certainly had felt sexual by that point, but whether or not this was because of what was actually said or the feeling of the conversation, she couldn't tell.

"In that case," said McGonagall, not bothering to wait for Hermione's explanation, "I don't see what you're making such a big fuss about. Just take it as a compliment, if you're not happy about it. Or else just go and lay with him already. It's not like you're both teenagers. I've got better things to do than arbitrate your petty squabbles."

Hermione's respect for McGonagall sunk instantly. "But… but it's an issue of consent," she moaned, wringing her hands. "It was a violation of my privacy. Of my mind. And he doesn't seem to care. How on earth am I supposed to take that as a compliment?"

McGonagall sighed with aggravation, picked up a stack of papers, thrust them in Hermione's hands, and ordered, "If you must make a fuss about this, you can fill out this paperwork, and we will proceed as laid out in the staff manual."

Hermione took the papers and said nothing, not sure what to do at this point.

McGonagall stared at her. "Now, unless there's something else you've got to tell me," she said with an air of closing the conversation, "Please do go find something else to do. Someone I know submitted a thirty-page syllabus and I'm only at page five."

There was a twinkle in her eye - of course Hermione was the one who had submitted said syllabus - and Hermione momentarily found herself outside the office.

Sobered, she went back to the dining hall. It was clear that McGonagall was not going to be her ally for this fight.

She'd have to do this on her own.

Chapter Text

Hermione looked at the stack of papers on her bureau bleakly. The experience of being shot down so readily by McGonagall - who truly should have known better - made her feel absolutely crummy. A week after the incident, she was still hurt by the incident, and found herself taking to her bed as soon as she could after work. She wasn't using the time-turner much anymore, aside from when absolutely necessary to teach her classes at the same time. She also was barely eating.

Eating was, for her, fundamentally a symptom of enjoying her life. At this time, she simply wasn't able to enjoy it.

She was angry and resentful towards Snape for feeling like he was entitled to look into her mind when he pleased to. She was angry that she'd let him get close enough to her to steal into her mind like he had. She felt angry that she felt guilty for making a big deal out of something that shouldn't, apparently, be a big deal.

But most of all, she felt angry because this sort of thing was *exactly* why she had left the Ministry and come back to Hogwarts in the first place.

Not to bore you with a long story - suffice it to say that Hermione had been the recipient of unsolicited legilimency more than once during her time at the ministry. Amongst the more skilled wizards - because this truly was a male wizard thing, not a female witch thing - she'd been forced to submit her mind over and over for 'mind clearing' checks and similar arbitrary experiences on the parts of her surperiors.

One particularly traumatizing set of events was when she was passed over for a deserved promotion, and the man who had formerly been her intern became her boss. While Frederick had been incredibly sweet as an intern, as her boss he was a nightmare. And he demanded that Hermione regularly give him entry to her mind as a way of ensuring that she wasn't planning to seduce him and take back the seat of power she'd had over him. (As if she cared that much.) As part of his unfortunate delusional complex, he'd dominated her thoroughly, without her consent, starting with small things, and finally taking her mind and forcing her to accept his doing as many horrible things to it as he could think of.

She'd initially submitted to it out of a desire to maintain her position and keep doing the good things she was doing in the public advocate's office. But finally, she realized she wasn't doing as good of work as she used to do, she was dispirited, and too unhappy to do a good job. Realizing that she didn't need to submit herself to his abuse, she quit.

She hadn't described what had happened to McGonagall when she came knocking at Hogwarts' door for a position - after all, she was trying to make a good impression - and since her hiring, she'd never bothered to clarify what had happened at the Ministry of Magic that had made her leave.

She hadn't felt like she needed to worry about this kind of thing happening here. But here it was, starting all over again.

Men. She hated them. And she hated that McGonagall - who could have disciplined Snape - wouldn't even acknowledge his trespass.

She was absolutely irate. Partially her anger was directed at herself, for having stuck with Frederick and his shenanigans for so long. But also, she was angry at Snape, and she knew she could do something about it, now, so she was going to. At least she would try.

But for the moment, it was easier to take a step back from the situation and self-medicate by taking herself to bed every day, wrapping herself in warm blankets, and sometimes screaming, sometimes crying.

In truth, she hadn't ever given herself time to mourn and grieve for what had happened at the Ministry - she'd never gotten a chance to allow herself to feel the pain of being violated like she had been by Frederick, to allow herself the space to cry about having lost her dreams and visions of doing good for the downtrodden of the world, to allow herself to refresh and relax and be comforted by the things around her.

No, she hadn't had a chance to process what had happened at the Ministry, not really. She'd lept from one job into a feverish search for another job, then jumped headfirst into this job. There'd been no time to process her experiences.

And now, she was finding that all her effort to suppress her feelings were catching up to her. It was immensely more painful than it should have been, but then again, she didn't exactly have any support in the situation.

She did think about calling Harry, but knew that Ginny would do her best to block her husband from speaking with Hermione. And Ron... well, how did one talk with the former-boyfriend-who-you-pretended-to-have-dumped-but-who-actually-had-dumped-you about one's deeper life issues? Ron had to deal with a family that judged every move he made, and she'd been happy to take the blow for him, since she knew they'd never give him peace if it was revealed that he had dumped Hermione.

Anyhow. Here she was, fairly isolated and alone. What could she do?

Well, for the moment, she slept.

Until one night, as she was curled up on her couch under the fluffiest blanket in her flat, there was a knock on her door.

Of course, she knew it was Minerva. "Just a moment," she called, pulling her blankets awkwardly, sloppily around her and treading to the door. She wasn't wearing anything more than underwear underneath, but then again, it as nearly midnight on a weeknight, and Hermione felt like she had the perfect right to be wearing nightclothes if she chose.

Well. As you might guess, she regretted it as soon as she opened the door.

Severus Snape stood there, looking practically crestfallen. His brow was furrowed and his face was taut.

"Miss Granger." He seemed afraid to even look at her, dressed scantily as she was, and he cast his eyes to the floor.

"Erm. Hi." Hermione wondered where on earth all her feelings of anger had gone. As she regarded her former professor, she no longer felt the burning pinch of anger in her upper gut that she'd been growing for the past week. Instead, she felt - well, strangely, she felt like she wanted to invite him in for a cuppa. "Erm. What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to speak with you," he said, clearly ashamed. "Do you have a moment?"

"Sure," she said, despite herself, "come in, please. There's... erm... hold on a moment."

She went to her ice-box and pulled out a package of biscuits that hadn't been opened yet. They were chocolate sponge biscuits with raspberry inside, and they were cool to the touch.

She picked up a pitcher of milk left over from her dinner - she'd eaten upstairs this evening, to avoid meeting her time-turner counterpart downstairs - and brought two cups into the living room. Then she seated herself on the sofa. Snape had settled himself into her big comfortable armchair, and he was idly skimming the pages of the book she'd left between its cushions.

"A brief history of rape," he read the title carefully, then put the book respectfully on the side table. He looked even more admonished than when he'd first walked in.

Hermione didn't know how to respond, so she merely pushed the pitcher of milk, the plate of biscuits, and the cup in his direction.

"Please," she said, as he looked hesitantly at them.

With a look of feeling somewhat relieved, though still uncomfortable, Snape poured himself a glass of milk, took a biscuit, tossed it in his mouth, and washed it down with the grim determination of a warrior fortifying himself for battle.

"So, *colleague,*" Hermione said, a fierce note in her voice, "What can I do for you this evening?"

He looked even more chastened than before. "I believe I owe you an apology," he said slowly.

"For what?" asked Hermione, not because she didn't know, but because there was a certain satisfaction in hearing him say it.

"For... for taking advantage of you when you were defenseless," said Snape, and he stared down at his giant belly with more sadness than Hermione thought could exist in the world. (For the record: she noticed it was bigger than when she'd last seen him. Not much, but visibly.)

He added, "I don't expect you to forgive me," he said, not looking at her, "particularly since it took me this long to get my sodding arse up here to apologize. But if you could do me the honor of listening, I'd like to provide some small explanation - not as an excuse, since what I did was truly inexcusable, but so that you can understand my half of the situation."

Hermione sat there, and only realized that he'd been intending for her to respond when he looked up at her, fear in his face that she wasn't going to forgive him. And she said, uncomfortably, "Oh, erm, carry on then."

He sighed. "I just want to stress to you how strange it's been, coming back into the wizarding world. I don't know if you knew this, but I spent the entire time I was out of the world, I lived and breathed life as a Muggle. I rented an apartment in the outskirts of London. I dated. I scraped together a non-magical living. And after a while, I got so comfortable there, that I somewhat forgot the intricacies of what life is like when you have magic at your disposal."

He took a deep breath, and seemed ready to conclude. "In summary - it's been a bit of a culture shock, returning to the wizarding world. And since my entire life prior to leaving, I was a spy - well, I've been struggling against those instincts ever since I set foot in these wretched halls."

He lowered his head and appeared to prostrate himself before her.

Hermione was so flabbergasted by this entire conversation that she could barely think of a response. Though luckily for her, she had one come to mind.

"Erm. So. Erm. What brought on this change of heart, exactly? You seemed completely fine with what you did last week."

Severus looked up at her, and his face visibly softened into something that strangely - so, so strangely - made her want to cuddle him like a podgy stuffed bear.

"Erm. My girlfriend?"

He did not seem exactly pleased to be admitting he wasn't single, though there was a significant amount of pride and happiness in his voice that made his story plausible.

"What?" asked Hermione, actually finding herself disappointed. "Who is she? God, don't tell me it's Trelawney."

"No," he responded with a gag, and his face shifted back into something more recognizable. "No, no. Erika's not here. She's in Boston."

"Is... is she a Muggle?" asked Hermione, beginning to realize the significance that all this seemed to have. And he nodded in assent.

Severus Snape had a girlfriend. Severus Snape had a MUGGLE girlfriend. Severus Snape had a MUGGLE (AMERICAN?!) girlfriend.

This, and Severus Snape had gotten fat.

Surely there had to be some relationship between these two things.

In any case, Hermione swallowed the disappointment that was making her throat feel tight. "So your girlfriend. She's a Muggle. And she's in Boston. How exactly did she change your mind?"

"Oh." Snape smiled sadly. "I... I was just describing to her what had happened. I was gloating over it, actually, and then she gave me an earful as a response. It took me a few days for the message to sink in, but she refused to talk to me until I listened to reason, so...that's what happened." He appeared sad and self-deprecatingly angry. "I do always go and botch up things," he said in a sad lament.

Hermione, however, noticed there was something strange in his story. "I hear you. But one question - exactly *how* are you able to talk with your Muggle girlfriend in Boston?"

Snape perked up at the question, apparently having feared a worse one about to roll off her tongue. "Well, as it happens, I just got the electronics wards down. You know how electronics have never worked in Hogwarts? Well, that's changed now. I finally figured out the trick to Albus' old anti-electronics spells. For such a progressive man in some ways, he was also quite the luddite. But then again, we both know it was part of his larger scheme to control everything. Chances are, it helped us survive the war, in the long run."

And then, as Hermione stared at him incredulously - he'd just casually unraveled yet another one of Dumbledore's lies, one that could have made her life incredibly and dramatically different - and even as she stared at him bewilderedly, Snape reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone.

He flipped it open, and on the screen flashed a recently-received text message, from someone named Erika Holmes: a less-than sign next to the number three.

Hermione stared at it. "It's... it works?"

"Yes." Snape typed a response, clicked send, and showed it to Hermione as it processed the text message and, in a moment, blinked 'Text sent!'

The text he had sent was a smiley-face.

A SMILEY-FACE. Severus Snape was in the habit of sending SMILEY-FACE text messages to his AMERICAN MUGGLE GIRLFRIEND.

Oh, and Severus Snape had gotten fat. She couldn't forget that.

Hermione wasn't sure whether she should laugh or cry. So much new information.

"So," she said, gathering her blankets more closely around her, as she felt her mood sink dangerously low, "What did she say that made you think otherwise?"

Snape seemed to consider his options. Finally settling on one, he seemed to get shy all of a sudden, and pull himself back up into a more dignified, snobby position.

"She's a trauma survivor," he said slowly, carefully, as if he'd practiced saying this in the bathroom mirror. "She was raped when she was fifteen and has gone through the full gambit of issues that come from that since then."

"Erm," said Hermione, feeling awkward about where this conversation was going. "Maybe you shouldn't be sharing this."

"Oh, it's fine," he said, rolling his eyes. "She's incredibly open about it. Writes and blogs and such all over the internet. Moreover, she told me I should share whatever I felt was necessary to help make this situation better." His eyes then came alight, and he snatched another biscuit from the plate, shoving it into his mouth. "By the way - Granger, do you even know about the internet? I didn't until I left, and now I can't live without it."

"It... it was still pretty new when I was a kid," Hermione said, still overwhelmed by the new amount of information she was facing. "I never got used to it. I'm not like the Muggle students in my classes, all abuzz about their social networks."

"You've got to get on it," he said, a thrill in his voice. "You absolutely must. Now that the wards are disbanded, Minerva's given me the go-ahead to install a computer lab. I insist you try it."

"Erm," Hermione said, "all right?"

"Excellent," said Snape, taking another biscuit. "So..." he said, his voice dialing down again, as he remembered the original reason he'd come to see her. "So, I wonder if you have any other questions for me. I..." he paused, took a deep breath, and sighed. "I'm still adjusting to you being a colleague and not my student, I admit." He closed his eyes. "It's been a difficult adjustment. Environmental influences make people act completely different. I..." he took a breath, "I suppose I want you to know, Miss Granger, that I've changed. And I'm not entirely sure how much I've changed, really. But I'm definitely different physically, and I know I'm different psychologically."

Hermione, touched by this speech, could indeed see that Snape was different than she'd ever seen him.

"Very well," she said, sadly, "it seems you've learned your lesson. Thank you for your apology, Professor."

"Severus," said the man, earnestly - perhaps too much so. "Please call me Severus."

"Maybe," said Hermione, standing up and drawing her blanket more tightly around her. "I'll... I'll think about it."

Snape studied her. And Hermione studied him. He did indeed seem much more lively than when she'd seen him the past few days. And... and receptive?

How interesting.

Despite herself, she said, "So, you see what the problem is with what you did."

"Yes," he said, and sighed. "Moreover, I must thank you for your charity - though perhaps it was out of a misplaced sense of guilt for what happened, so perhaps I should not be thanking you at all - in not going to Minerva about this. I know she'd have had my guts for garters had she known about this."

"We wouldn't want that pretty gut made into garters," said Hermione, more tenderly than she intended, allowing herself a healthy glance at his vast belly. (Now that she knew he was off the market, she felt like she could do this more safely than before). Her face reddened as she did so, but she brushed away her blush, by adding, "So, erm, about that. I actually did go to Minerva. Right away, as it happened. She just wasn't interested in hearing what I had to say."

Severus Snape's entire face changed. "Really?" he said, "I can't believe this."

"Neither can I," Hermione replied, "but she completely brushed me off. And she gave me this enormous bundle of papers." She gestured at the papers that had been residing on her bureau. "I just know it won't go anywhere, so I figure, why bother?"

Snape's round face was clearly heated, and he took one additional biscuit and stood up.

"Miss Granger," he said, a tone of iron bracing his words, "I'm glad you told me this. I... it seems I'm going to have to go have a talk with our headmistress."

"What sort of talk?" asked Hermione, standing up with him.

His thick jaw was set and determined as he said, "I need to know why I wasn't punished for what I did."

With that, he stormed out of the room like a barrel dropped from a wagon on a mountain road.

And, like a weak metaphor, Hermione threw on a cover-robe and followed, not sure what to expect, but feeling a rush of dismal pride (informed by jealousy).

Chapter Text

They got to McGonagall's suite in faster time than Hermione would have imagined from someone of Severus' bulk. Also, she was impressed with how silently he still moved - where he once was as soundless as the gentle swish of his cloak against the floorboards, now that there was a little bit more to him, there was now the reassuring added sounds of floorboards groaning under his weight with every step, as well as the scraping of twill fabric between his thick thighs.

Snape rapped at the door firmly, and McGonagall's frail, "just a moment," resulted in her being at the door in her braids and slippers in seconds flat. "Yes?" she said, and when she saw both of her potions professors standing in the hall, one of which was barely decent, McGonagall asked, "Where's the fire?"

"In my tongue," said Severus fiercely, and, with an apologetic look towards Hermione, he edged his way inside McGonagall's suite and closed the door.

Hermione found her ears full of muffilato all of a sudden, and feeling somewhat infantilized, she sat down and poked at her belly. In her haste, she'd picked up one of her more comfortable (read: large) robes, and it saddened her to see that the belly that had been rounding out nicely last week was, at this point, deflated significantly due to her lack of eating.

Since she was already feeling better about the situation, she went back to her suite and took some action to remedy her lack of plumpness by eating the remainder of the biscuits and drinking most of the rest of the milk. Once these were accomplished, she felt more full and plump, and generally in a better mood than she was before.

She went back to sit in the hallway, and sat on the floor, one hand on her expanding tummy, one pinching her delicious lovehandles to try and see what kinds of shapes they made when she squished them.

Finally, the muffilato ended, and Severus stepped out of the room, and McGonagall closed the door behind him.

"That didn't sound like it went well," said Hermione as she looked at Snape.

Snape shrugged. "I hope she'll come around at some point. I've given myself the duty of scrubbing the cauldrons for you tomorrow, however. By hand."

"What?" Hermione asked with a laugh, though her mind couldn't help but stutter as she realized he was prescribing his own favorite punishment to himself. "Why on earth?"

He looked at her with sadness in his eyes. "Just let me."

She couldn't exactly deny him such a self-flagellatory commitment. "Erm. Sure. If you need it, have at it."

He nodded, and as he walked her to her bedroom door, he bid her goodnight, and said, "I...I hope I haven't been too forward, Miss Granger. Social things - at least *real* social things - were never my strong suit. I'm an old spy with habits that die hard. I... I struggle when it comes to interacting with people that aren't clearly-marked enemies with goals on their backs."

She felt herself smiling as she looked at him, his face taut and chubby, his belly hanging low and heavy, his arse full and succulent. And to look at him, she knew she couldn't hold anything against him.

"You... you're forgiven," she said gently. "Don't fret over it. Please. Just... as long as you're nice. I think I like this effect that Erika has on you. I'm looking forward to meeting her someday."

"Oh, perhaps you will," he said, not sounding entirely invested in such a future, "perhaps not. Whatever she wants. She doesn't plan on coming back to England for a while. She's doing a pharmacology fellowship, you see," he added, with pride bleeding out of his voice. "At Harvard Medical School."

"She sounds great," said Hermione, feeling like she didn't give a damn. She truly didn't want to hear about Erika Holmes and how Brilliant she was.

"She is," said Snape.

He then took a deep breath, and said, "Well, I should be off to bed, as should you, I believe."

"No rush," said Hermione, feeling sorry to see him go. "Thank you for… being nice, for once."

"I…" He seemed surprised by this comment. "I could ask for some elaboration, but I think we're both a bit too tired to go on talking about this. I say we adjourn here and regroup some time during the week."

"That sounds fine," said Hermione, already feeling sleepy.

"Excellent," said Snape, and he gave a short bow. Even as portly as his body was, it was elegant.

"To later," he said, and turned on his heel to walk towards his own room.

Hermione replied, softly, "to later," and crept into her own room, thoroughly bewildered by the events of the evening.

Chapter Text

She didn't actually see him that soon. Granted, she was on the verge of avoiding *him* at this point, because she felt awkward about the whole situation.

It surprised her very much that Snape's next step, after seeing into a very intimate place in her mind, was to reconsider his actions and ask for forgiveness.

Well, she supposed, people changed. She'd certainly changed during her time in the ministry.

It did rankle her that she seemed to be the one worse for wear after five years. Then again, as she considered it, his life was so abysmal, perhaps the only direction he could go was up.

Speaking of going up: after her interaction with Snape in her room, she felt her body going back to its more-normal state of softness, though slowly, as she began to regroup and get back into a healthy routine.

She was trying to keep as her meals as regular as she could in the Great Hall, arriving early whenever possible, and staying late when she didn't see Snape come in the entire meal. But most days, she realized, he just didn't eat in the Great Hall.

Once she realized this, she wondered how much she should take this personally. While Snape had told her he looked forward to talking with her later, she hadn't seen him really make an effort to make this happen. It was disappointing, and Hermione wondered if perhaps he had been lying.

But no. She had a pretty dang good bullshit detector, and nothing had come to her attention during that conversation, so she decided that he must have been sincere.

But a week went by, and she didn't see him. A second week went by, and she only saw him the day she came in late to get breakfast - he was already on his way out, and he smiled - SMILED! - at her apologetically and went on, not stopping.

During this time, there was no one else really to talk to at the table. Pomona and Rolanda always came and left swiftly. McGonagall, while polite, seemed to focus all of her attention on her stringent portion of steel-cut oatmeal, and while other professors came and went, none was interested enough in Hermione to break up their habits or cliques in order to sit with her.

It wasn't strange to feel like the outlier at Hogwarts. But she hadn't felt this lonely since her first year.

Not only was this emotional drama taking place, she also felt her clinical-grade anxiety mounting. Of course, why should she feel anxious that he was avoiding her? What did it matter? It wasn't as if her crush on Snape - oh, yes, she'd finally admitted to herself that she was completely smitten - was solicited, reciprocated, or even noticed. But she still wanted to make sure that she wasn't on his bad side.

Granted, she'd spent so much of her life chasing after good grades from him that it wasn't exactly a difficult transition.

Being a teacher meant you had a lot of power, Hermione noticed, and she felt the power imbalance acutely between herself and Snape, even though they were supposedly colleagues.

Finally, not able to take it anymore, Hermione found herself knocking on Snape's chamber door one morning. She noticed, as the sunlight hesitantly shone through the hall window, that the nameplate on his door was more dim and tarnished than any of the others. Many years of pounding from Dumbledore in the dead of night, she assumed.

And she sighed. It was always painful to think about Dumbledore in a state other than a cheerful, benevolent, if brilliant old man.

Snape wasn't the kind who could open the door without undoing several layers of wards, it sounded like; a few words and a tangle of spells later, and Severus opened the door. He was scowling at the light.

"What is it, Granger?" he spat, looking cross.

"Erm," Hermione said, finding her tongue confiscated by a cat. "Erm. Come to breakfast." She at least managed to get part of what she'd intended to say out of her head.

He looked at her, rubbed his temples, and closed his eyes. "Erm," he responded, just as awkwardly, "I have already come to breakfast."

"When?" Hermione demanded, "I didn't see you. I almost never see you. What, do you eat all of your meals in your rooms, alone?"

He seemed a bit taken aback. "Yes?" he answered, somewhat testily. "What would you expect? That's my routine. I've never regularly dined in the Great Hall for any meals."

Hermione scrutinized him briefly. She was delighted to see that he looked a bit rounder than he had last time she had a good look at him. He wasn't wearing a cloak, and his shirt was partly untucked from his trousers, but she could see his trousers were quite tight, and getting a little bit thin at the waistline where it was clear Snape had been regularly stretching them with tailoring spells.

"Well," she said, "can I eat with you?"

"Whatever for?" Snape asked, clearly uncomfortable, but then he put a hand to his head. "Oh, because for you, breakfast is gossip time. Can't get along with your day without hearing the latest tidbits about who's dating who and whatnot."

"You know it's not that," said Hermione with a scowl. "I just don't like to eat alone. And I'm really not able to find anyone else to eat with every morning. At least, no one who wants to talk to me so early. So, will you let me eat up here with you?"

Severus rolled his eyes. "Fine. But you must promise me one thing."

Hermione, glad he'd been so easy to convince, still was cautious when she asked, "What?"

His eyes were mischievous as he responded, "You must promise not to ask me to share."

With that, he clapped his hands briskly, and a houself that Hermione had tried to free at one point - who went by the name of Lowly - showed up, smiling and beaming.

"Master Snape," said the elf with a bow. "Do you wish anything else?"

"Not for myself," Snape said, but then amended, "Oh, well, wait. I would like some of that brioche french toast you mentioned. I thought I didn't, but now I've thought about it and changed my mind."

"Very good sir," chirped Lowly. "Would you be wanting that instead of the eggs Benedict, or with?"

"With," said Snape with a sniff, "Now Lowly, please be so good as to take Professor Granger's order."

Professor. He'd called her Professor Granger. Feeling uncommonly lovely inside, she almost said yes to everything Lowly offered, though barely caught herself.

When Lowly had gone, Snape was looking at her with curious eyes.

"What did you mean, the other day," he said, settling himself down in a sizeable armchair that he nonetheless succeeded in filling. "When you said 'thank you for being nice, for once'?"

"I meant," Hermione said, feeling the need to tread lightly on this issue, "that you've got a history of being... less than kind."

"Oh." He looked relieved, though also sad. "Well. That's all?"

"Yes," Hermione said, then smirked. "No deeper meaning."

"All right," he said. "I understand."

He then proceeded to be thoroughly distracted as Lowly brought him a hot cup of coffee, a carafe of orange juice, and Hermione's black tea.

"So." He stirred no less than four lumps of sugar into his black coffee, and took a sip. "What do you want to talk about, Granger?"

She was put off by the comment. "Well, when you put me on the spot like that, of course I'm not going to have an answer."

"Very well," he said, and she could start to see that he was just teasing her. "I'm guessing that you're interested in my newfound affection..." he paused, looking out the window dramatically, "for research."

"Oh," said Hermione, annoyed because she'd been hoping - as he knew she'd be hoping - that he'd elaborate a little bit about his girlfriend situation. "I'd genuinely love that. But I want to know a little bit more about your newfound affection for a woman that isn't Harry's mum."

That might have been a little inappropriate, and Snape looked stunned.

"Again," he repeated, "how nice it would be to live in a world where one's deepest secrets weren't left on the pavement to be picked up and trampled on by casual wayfarers."

"Do you think I'm a casual wayfarer?" countered Hermione glibly.

He studied her, and she smiled at him.

"I have no way of telling," he answered at last. "My frame of reference for such things is rather poor. My closest confidante for the past twenty years was a man who was using me up until his last breath."

"Well," Hermione said, shrinking a little bit, "perhaps your frame of reference could use with some expanding."

She cast a glance at him, and the corner of his mouth twitched, picking up the place where she could have made a joke, but didn't. It seemed to cement how comfortable he seemed to be with the conversation.

"So," he said, after a pause, "Once I got myself out of the shithole that I called my escape apartment, I spent most of my time as a research assistant in a lab at Oxford. Initially it was just tedious work, but soon I started pursuing my own independent projects..."

He described in great detail his adventures at Oxford, and Hermione listened, enraptured.

There was something in his face that she'd never seen before, when he talked about the intricate problems of chemistry, and how he was trying to apply his new skills and knowledge to developing an evidence-based werewolf vaccine, to prevent the virus from infecting innocents upon being bitten.

"I had the great privilege of being exposed to some of the best research on HIV/AIDs that the Muggle world could offer," he was explaining, and then there was a sudden blink! and pop! and there was a great smorgasboard of plates on the dining table.

Snape heaved himself up out of his chair and edged himself to the dining table. He briskly unfolded his napkin, laid it on his lap, and gestured for Hermione to join him.

He then continued, barely skipping a beat to shove items of food in his mouth.

It was fascinating to watch him, Hermione observed. As she ate, she watched him eat. And even as he was talking virtually non-stop about all of this exciting research, she kept being distracted by the wobbling of his chins, the way he tucked food into his mouth as efficiently as one might put mail in a postal box, and the way he simply seemed to enjoy every bite.

There was a sense of exquisite pleasure that he experienced every time his fork went to his mouth. Once or twice, he'd been so overtaken by the delicious taste that he'd had to pause his description and murmur, "Oh, that's excellent," before ploughing forward both with his narrative and his eating.

And oh, Hermione was enjoying watching him eat with an obscene amount of pleasure of her own. Her panties were starting to get sticky the moment he sat down, spread his legs, and began to attack the food. She was nearly squirming with desire as he began to finish his meal. He'd cleared away at least four plates' of food, not to mention a half-dozen pastries. (It was clear he liked the sweet stuff.)

She herself had eaten well, too, though she'd not eaten nearly as much.

As he laid down his fork for the final time, she was struggling to finish her second plate of food. Snape, looking as if he was barely able to keep his eyes open, so stuffed and content he was, managed to maneuver himself in a position where he could make eye contact with her without much effort. This meant propping his fat, heavy face on the table in his hands, with his elbows supporting them by jamming into the table.

"You going to finish that?" he asked her, truly serious (from her standpoint).

"Mmmm," Hermione said, wondering if she was or wasn't.

She looked at his eyes, and she saw a devilish grin in them. A dare, as it were.

"Yes," she answered, "And no, I'm not sharing."

"You'd better finish it, fast," Snape said, scooting his chair towards her in a threatening manner. "Or else I'll be taking it from you."

"No, that won't be necessary," Hermione said, hoping it was true.

"I'll help you," said Snape. He added, "may I touch your abdomen?"

Leave it to Snape to call a stomach an abdomen. Hermione, feeling herself stuffed, figured there could be no harm in his touching her, and allowed him to do so. She felt a pang of worry that somewhere far across the Atlantic, a pretty (thin!) girl was going to get her knickers in a twist about this. But the sensation of having Snape so close to her was so electric that she couldn't bear to think about that.

His touch was surprisingly chaste; he used only his palms to massage her belly and try and make room.

"Come on," he said in a low whisper, too close to her ear for her not to notice, "Just a few more bites, it's good, isn't it? You're getting so round, sweetheart, you're getting so round. Just a few more bites and we can call an elf for our dishes - but until then, take another bite. Good girl."

And so it went, Hermione being coaxed to finish her french toast, and Snape doing her the favor of coaxing her.

Soon, she was beyond stuffed, and Snape continued to massage her for the next several minutes.

Until, both of them simultaneously looked up to see the clock chiming the start of classes.

"Frack," Hermione said, standing up in a wobbly fashion. "I'm supposed to be teaching right now."

"Please," Snape said, "let me help you get there."

Thus saying, he bent down (despite not being agile) and picked up her bookbag. Then he rushed (as fast as he could) to the door, opened it, and took her down the hall.

"I've... got it from here," Hermione insisted, feeling delighted at the amount of care he seemed to be putting into their friendship. "Same tomorrow?"

"Yes," Snape said, smiling.

Hermione stalked off, feeling immensely proud of herself for the events of the morning. She could tackle anything today - she had another wonderful breakfast with Snape tomorrow.

Chapter Text

The next day, he was not as cross as the day before. Perhaps it was because the day outside was gloomy, and the light that shone in the window by his door was dim and more polite, less intrusive.

She knocked and he welcomed her in wordlessly. She noticed that clutter that had spread across the room the day before - books, papers, other academic detritus - had been unceremoniously removed to end tables and other vestigial furniture. Hermione was pleased to see that there were already two chairs at the main table, specifically observing that Snape's most comfy armchair had been moved there. With a strangely gentlemanly gesture, he offered her a seat, and smiling she accepted.

He sat down in it hastily, as if aware that Hermione had been coveting his spot. Without further preamble, he clapped his meaty - though still long-fingered and elegant - hands, and Lowly appeared, and both of them ordered, neither with much deliberation.

"So," Hermione said in a congenial fashion, "I believe you were telling me about the way peptides interacted with each other once you added the reactive agent, in that final experiment before you ended your retirement in the Muggle world."

"Was I?" he said, and a hint of a smirk came to his face. Lowly popped back to deposit coffee and tea on the table, and disappeared again. Snape added his four lumps and slowly stirred, though he wasn't using it as a method of escape as he was yesterday. "I thought the last thing we were talking about was something...completely different." He wore a wry grin, but didn't make eye contact, as if sharing a private joke with his coffee mug.

"Perhaps it was," Hermione said, trying to sound noncommittal, trying her best not to blush. "Well, no matter. What do you want to talk about now?"

Snape paused, looking up at her, beaming as if entertaining the most dangerous of thoughts, and as he looked down again, she thought she saw his tongue skim over the rim of his lips, but once he spoke, his words were just as composed and impassive as always.

"How are you finding teaching?" he asked, glancing up and then down again, failing to conceal a mischievous look that hinted that he was biding his time before asking something truly salacious.

Hermione's face morphed into something resembling a comfortable melancholy. "Oh, well, I'm sure you know its pitfalls, so instead I will tell you what I enjoy about it."

"Do," he bid her, leaning forward over his coffee and gazing at her in such a way that was just slightly exaggerated - she wasn't entirely sure if he was mocking the convention of leaning forward to express interest, or if he was genuinely keen.

For her sanity, she had to assume good faith, she decided. So, she decided he was being earnest.

"While of course it's not all fun and games… I really love to see when a student gets it," she said, a glow rising to her face. "When someone has been struggling and then all of a sudden has an illuminating moment - that makes the struggle worth it for me. It's all the more sweet for a long battle," she went on.

She went on to describe a detailed example of one of the students in her class.

Snape listened with close attention, though it was clear that to some extent, he was indulging her.

"I wish that mattered as much to me," he said finally, as she paused to sip and take some bites of her scone. "I just hated the struggle so much. Especially when there were students in the class, like yourself, who got it right away. Why not devote more time to those minds, rather than the dunderheads who wouldn't get it if it bit them on the leg and announced 'here I am, I'm the solution, pick me up and run with me.'"

"Well, the dunderheads do have something to offer," Hermione counteracted. "I mean, just think about it. If we only educated students who liked the subjects we taught, then there would be so many people who would remain largely in the dark about what we do and why. And then - well, when these dunderheads get positions of power, they think what we do is valueless. And cut our funding. At least this way, they know what we do is valuable - even if the only reason they think it's valuable is because it's hard."

Snape laughed, a low dark laugh that made her thrill expectantly. "Certainly a fair point," he said, smiling, "but that doesn't mean it's enjoyable for the teacher."

"But it's important," Hermione said.

He grinned at her quizzically. "Are you quite sure you weren't sorted into the wrong house, Granger? Deriving enjoyment from the a task's value to society is a decidedly 'Puffy, at least in my book."

She rolled her eyes. "I have a theory about this, actually. I think the whole house system is dumb."

"What a theory, so original, wow,*" he responded coolly, but his eyes were alight and engaged. He clearly was interested.

Lowly arrived then with their food, and they tucked in ravenously.

"So as I was saying," Hermione went on, "I've got a firm-held belief that people naturally gravitate towards approximately two houses. There are very few people who actually meet all of the criteria for their house description - and also very few people whose personalities don't involve at least clear signs of fitting in with another house."

Snape didn't respond, just smiling faintly and eating. As she watched him, Snape truly seemed to have an unlimited capacity, and today as Hermione dominated the conversation, he seemed to do nothing but swallow and chew. She noted happily that he seemed to have rapt attention towards what she was talking about.

"For example," she said, "I do have some very strong Hufflepuff traits, such as a desire to maintain equilibrium with the world morally, and not create enemies when they could be friends."

Snape snorted and took a sip of coffee, but said nothing.

"However," Hermione went on, "the way I actualize these desires - models of relating to the world, you might say - is very active. Whereas the majority of the Hufflepuffs I know, they are highly reactive and don't take initiative very often, at least not in large-scale ways. The Hufflepuffs I know are usually the first to remember your birthday, for example, while a Gryffindor might forget. But a Gryffindor might be more likely to help you get a job promotion, which is likely to have a much broader impact than remembering your birthday, whereas a Hufflepuff might be a bit ambivalent towards helping you towards that goal because they don't want to take a stand for or against anything."

Snape sipped his coffee and pushed away his first clean plate.

"So, in your theory, that's the dividing line between the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs," Snape said, pursing his lips. "How does this train of thought extend to Ravenclaws and Slytherins?"

"You're a step ahead of me," said Hermione, feeling delighted that she had someone to say that to. "So clearly in this schema, the thing that separates Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs is a sense of extraversion, in the sense that they see their actions as having a greater sense of meaning and importance in the world than, I assume, a Slytherin or Ravenclaw might have."

"Are you saying their difference is one of optimism versus pessimism?" Snape asked, frowning. "That doesn't ring true to me."

"I wouldn't even say that," Hermione clarified, "I just would say that the dividing line is what has more weight in terms of personality expression - focus on other-ness, or focus on self-ness."

He caught her eye as she laid emphasis on the word 'weight,' and they shared a brief glance of shared resolution. It was becoming clearer to them both that teasing each other about their bodies was not happening here.

And being able to have this strange connection, of being able to dialogue meaningfully about their fat (even though they weren't explicitly talking about it) really turned Hermione on.

But after this shared moment, he refocused and, after musing for a moment, muttered "Narcissism?" He accompanied this with a bit of a laugh, but she was afraid from the tenor of his voice that he was taking it a little too much to heart.

"I mean," she said fretfully, "in the classical sense, that's what I mean. Not with the contemporary connotation of narcissistic personalities and whatever."

His face indicated he was still not quiescent about this, and she pointed a finger at him.

"Look," she said, "even now, as I'm describing this, look at the form of psychological distress you're having while I'm saying this. What is the primary feeling you're having right now?"

"Erm," he said, his face changing as he switched gears from feeling to analyzing his feelings. "I'm insulted. I just don't feel like someone who's made the error of dedicating his whole miserable life to others qualifies as a narcissist. And I'm bitter that you think I'm a narcissist, though from your perspective, I probably deserve it. "

"Exactly," Hermione said, "you're not worried that such a narcissistic persona would be a bad thing in the world as a whole, you're worried that it's what I think of you. You're concerned more with the self-image than in the images of others. And that's not a bad thing, necessarily," she went on. "It has advantages and disadvantages, like any trait. How it manifests in you, though, it is a fairly concerning disadvantage."

He seemed concerned, but also confused, so she clarified, "I mean, you do have a history of being really cruel to people. Lacking empathy."

His face clouded in pain.

"Even now," Hermione pressed, "as I say this, you're considering this from a self-image role - or, oh, I mean an ego-centric perspective - and not an other-centric perspective."

"Well," Snape said, hesitantly, "what if I'm concerned with what you think of me?"

"That's still what I'm talking about," Hermione said, feeling gratified that at least he was listening to her. "You're concerned with how I perceive you. You're not really concerned with the image of me in your brain. You're concerned with how I perceive you, not how I perceive myself."

"Okay," he said, and then quietly he asked, "so, let's approach another part of your thesis. You say that I have a problem with empathy. I'm surely going to regret this but - give me an example?"

Hermione was surprised at how interested he was in listening to her, despite how clearly he was disliking this.

She took a deep breath. Was she really about to confront him about something that had happened so long ago?

Yes, she was.

"Remember when someone cast that miserable spell that made my teeth grow to enormous proportions?" she said, finding a lump catching in her throat despite herself. "Do you remember what you said to me?"

He closed his eyes, and appeared visibly pained.

"I...I see what you mean," he said.

"Say it," she said with a hiss.

He looked at her, mortified. And he was probably stunned that she sounded so much like him, honestly.

"Say it," she said again, her voice stern and taut.

"I… I said," he murmured, "I said, 'I see no difference.'"

"That's what I remember," she affirmed, feeling victorious. "Take note that when you said this, you humiliated a little girl who was already a frequent victim of bullying," said Hermione, her voice rising with emotion. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"I wasn't," he confessed.

"I'd agree. And I think somewhere inside you, there's something about making other people feel bad that pleases you. Seeing other's pain makes you tick."

She looked at him, and it was clear he was repressing his negative emotions. His face was blank, and he pressed his fingers against the bridge of his nose.

Oh. She had overdone it. She was definitely not feeling pleased with herself at this point - she'd quite lost control of herself. Snape was sitting there, subdued.

What the hell had she been thinking?

"Well," Hermione said, trying to make up for the arrow she'd shot out of the bow and could not return, "maybe given that, maybe I'm wrong about the self-image thing. It's clear you have an acute awareness of other peoples' emotions. But in this case - as in others, I imagine - you took this knowledge and exploited it. Basically for fun. Am I on to something?"

"I… I guess?" Snape said, and he took a deep breath. "Look," he said, after a moment of silence, "Let's take a moment to talk about something else. I'm a bit overwhelmed."

"Good on you for acknowledging it and not snapping at me," said Hermione, backpedaling, and realizing that she'd been pressing really hard.

"I… I have to ask, though," he said, looking at her. His face was red, and his eyes were… not glassy, but nearing it. He blinked a few times. "Is… is that what you really think of me?"

Hermione was already self-flagellating. Oh, Merlin. What on earth had she done?

"Well," she said slowly, "I guess not. Or I probably would not have said all that. And, on that note, I probably wouldn't be here, either, if that's what I really thought of you."

She looked up at him sincerely, and they maintained steady eye contact for several moments. There was no sound in the room but the steady ticking of the clock on the mantel.

Finally, she sighed, and pushed her plate towards him.

"I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach," she said meaningfully.

Snape, who had another full plate of his own to go, looked uncomfortable and pale, like he was going to be sick.

He was really good at hiding it, but she'd made him physically feel ill. And she felt like a monster for it.

"Oh, bother," said Hermione. "I...I'm sorry," she said, standing up and moving her chair to be next to him.

He didn't look at her, just staring ahead, blinking fiercely and glaring at the bookcase across the room.

"Listen," she said softly, "It's... all of this is weird. I get it. It's weird for me, it's weird for you. Not the least of things that's weird is that you're freaking alive, and I'm not freaking crusading for change at the Ministry of Magic. It boggles my mind that I'm here, and you're here, and that we're both here at the same time. And it also boggles my mind that somehow, of all the staff members I could be interested in, I feel like you're the only person in this school who I want to talk to."

Her preliminary exposition complete, she took a breath. "But two people can't always adjust their changing roles seamlessly. Especially two people like us, with such significant breakage in our pasts."

She took a deep breath. "At least, I know we won't get through this without a transition period."

She took another deep breath, preparing herself to be more vulnerable than she'd been with him yet. "I… I think we can be friends, Professor Snape," she said. "At least, I'd like to try. And if it's a bit rough at first, I hope you'll not hold that against me. I have a lot of resentment, but not so much that I can't get over it in a timely fashion. Already I feel like the densest bludger for having been so fracking insensitive this whole conversation."

This did not seem to make Snape look more calm, less distressed, or more receptive. Instead - oh, if only Harry and Ron could see him now - Snape looked like he was going to start tearing up right then and there.

But after a moment, he regained his composure, and shook his head fiercely.

"Weird isn't the half of it," he said with a low grumble. "Of course, turbulence is part of learning to fly."

Then, with a sigh of relief, he said, "Pass… pass me the preserves, please?"

Hermione too was relieved, and she gratefully passed them to him. Rosehip preserves, they were, she noticed with a deep rush of exhilaration.

She wondered if it was a mere coincidence or not. But Snape wasn't about to give up that secret, it was clear.

He finished both of their meals methodically and meticulously. Hermione was looking forward to perhaps touching him a little afterwards, but the clock struck nine before he was done eating, so she just squeezed his shoulder and left him there at the table, finishing the crumbs.

"Tomorrow," he mumbled as she stepped out.

"Yes," she replied. She was glad that there was going to be a tomorrow, after today.

...
*yes, I just almost used Doge in a fanfic. No, I do NOT apologize. Very Snape. Much in-character. So Doge. Wow

Chapter Text

She was back the next day, more generous of spirit and thoroughly chastened.

Snape appeared to be in an uncommonly good mood despite the events or yesterday, and Hermione was glad to see that he had already ordered and started eating.

"Sorry," he apologized perfunctorily, "I didn't sleep much, and I was hungry."

"That's fine," she said preferring him eating more than less. "I hope you'll still get something when I order. I don't like feeling like I'm the only one getting food."

He caught her eye, "I'll see what can be done," he said, and again they shared a significant moment of mutual understanding.

She realized that he understood - possibly better than she herself did - how much she enjoyed watching him eat.

They soon were ordered, and they launched directly into conversation.

"So," she queried, "you were up all night?"

"Yes," he said, and began explaining a complicated combination of spells that he'd been using in his methodical, scientific proceedings in the lab.

It was very interesting to Hermione, but it isn't really interesting to us Muggles. So forgive me - I'm going to use my authorial liberty to skip over it.

"This is all really fascinating," Hermione mused. "I remember the genius ideas I used to get when I had all-nighters. Just the shift of perspective needed, sometimes, to think of trying an unusual angle. Now," she said, sitting back and putting a hand on her full stomach, cradling it. "I used to carry out all-nighters regularly as a student, and even at the Ministry sometimes, but it's gotten harder as I've gotten older. At this point, though, the recovery from such exertions is no longer efficient enough to make it worth it." Hermione said, laying down her fork for the first time in about twenty minutes, as Snape played catch-up to focus on putting food in his face.

"I commiserate," Snape said with a roll of his eyes. "I used to stay up three nights in a row and barely feel it." Then he frowned. "And why are you talking about getting old - I was your age."

"You're right," said Hermione with a grin. "So since this doesn't seem to be something that you do often, what inspired you this time?"

"Honestly?" Snape asked, a funny look in his eyes. "You might not want to know."

"What?" said Hermione, guessing that this was something salacious, and unable to think of anything else but what it might be.

"You might regret me telling you," he said with a smirk.

"I won't know until you tell me," she responded with a frivolous twist of her hair .

"Okay," he said, and (almost gently) he murmured, ducking his head and letting his hair fall over his face, hiding it partly, "phone sex "

She laughed - it was painful, given that she wished she could be giving him real-life sex - but it was also a funny reason for staying up late.

"Given where Erika lives," she said, self-consciously, "that isn't exactly surprising."

"...Yes."

He flat-out blushed. Not a furious red, just a little hint of pink in his cheeks.

It was freaking adorable, and Hermione wanted his cheeks for herself.

Why did he have to get himself in a relationship with a girl so far away?

Why did he have to be so chubby and plump and delightful looking?

Why did she think it was okay to have a crush on her former teacher?

Grow up, she told herself. Stop messing around with a thing that promises to be very good in its current form. Poking and prodding isn't a way to get what you want. You should be satisfied to have someone to get fat with.

Because, fundamentally, that's what she realized this relationship was becoming. A relationship based on their mutual love of food, and mutual shared interest in being fat.

"So," she said, her voice drooping with a little bit of sadness , "When you stay up late, you stay up late and keep on staying up, I take it."

"Yes," he said, "and it's quite productive. Even though I'll crash later. Can't stay up for days on end like I used to, subsisting on a cocktail of adrenaline and cigarettes."

"You smoked?" Hermione said, and Snape shrugged.

"In my generation, it was more rare to find someone who didn't smoke, Miss Granger," he said sternly. "My parents - and most of my peers parents - were crummy. Which meant that my generation's offspring - your generation - was coddled beyond measure."

Hermione smiled. "I guess that's the cycle."

She then remembered a loose end that they hadn't tied up yet. "So tell me about Erika," she said sweetly. "What is she like? She must be pretty special to stay with even though she's a quarter way round the world."

"She certainly is," said Snape with a genuine smile - again hiding half his face under his hair. He spooned a generous dollop of cream cheese on his lox. "I don't exactly care to gloat, however."

"Gloat away," Hermione begged, despite the fact that she was sure she was opening a bag of worms. "I get a thrill out of it. Vicarious romance."

He still seemed uncertain, so she urged him, "Come on. I have had five years of believing that you died the tragic unrequited hero who never found love. You owe it to yourself to start changing the color of your story."

"Do I really," he responded, but he ultimately seemed thoroughly pleased by her suggestion, so he said, "I suppose I will tell you - but I do intend to keep this as brief as possible. Maybe I'll tell you more in the future, because heaven knows there's more, and heaven knows you probably would bleed just to hear me tell it. Greedy girl," he added with an affectionate - affectionate?! - growl.

"But suffice it to say: I was sick to my stomach of being in love with Lily."

The statement dropped out of his mouth, and quite truly shocked Hermione. He elaborated, "I'd been in love with her for practically my whole sodding life. I can't even begin to explain how miserable it was, not to be able to move on. By the time you were in school, I wanted to, but I felt like I couldn't. I didn't want to be unfaithful. I didn't want to renege on my debt to her, to Albus, to society."

A quiet rage began to build in his voice.

"So that was my prison. I was so angry, but the only place I knew to direct it was towards myself. After all, I was the screw-up, I was the one who had blasphemed her when she was trying to help me, I was the one who had become a Death-Eater, I was the one responsible for their death."

He took a sip of his coffee, and Hermione was surprised to see his cup shaking slightly in his hand.

"But then, Dumbledore's final request. It happened. I killed him. It nearly drove me insane. Can you imagine, being forced to kill a man you're indebted to a thousand times over because of, yet again, your own error? Then having to act - to believe, at least in the epidermis of your mind - that you were happy about it?"

He was breathing deeply, and took another sip of coffee. His hand was steadier, but he was gripping the handle harder. Hermione noticed the way the fat that covered the back of his hand shifted over his bones as he grabbed the cup, forming little rolls and wrinkles. But she felt guilty for noticing this, so she brought her eyes back to make contact with Snape's own. He wasn't looking at her, he was just staring deeply into his coffee mug, his hair loosely covering his face so that he was completely out of sight from her.

Not looking up, he went on, "I was at the breaking point, and I was feeling faint of heart. I realized that by spending my entire life trying to pay back debts that weighed on me, I'd only accumulated more. That summer, in a fit of despair, I succumbed finally to the one sin I'd never sunk to - going to a prostitute."

Hermione didn't exactly find this shocking - she was on the more sex-positive side than not - but she listened soberly, giving him the attention he was due.

"I… I didn't want to leave, after the fact," he went on, still not looking up, but a certain tenseness left his body as he relaxed into the upward swing of the story. "And she was willing to indulge me as long as I paid her. So we chatted for hours. Well. Chatted wasn't exactly what happened," he said miserably. "I spilled my life's story to her. I felt so crippled, and I kept telling myself I could just obliviate her afterwards and my secrets would be safe, and it felt so refreshing to talk to someone who wasn't psychoanalyzing me the entire time. I suppose I wouldn't have done it had I not been so overcome by having finally, after so many years, felt the flesh of a woman."

Hermione was startled to realize the significance of this story: Snape was confessing to never having had sex until he was almost forty. She stared at him in wonderment. To look at him, he'd always seemed so sexually evocative, so cool and collected and charming. She knew that by that time, she'd been having fantasies about him for years.

All that, and he'd never once done the dirty. No wonder he'd been fucking mental.

He sighed. "She was so kind. I was so depressed. She coddled me and held me when my heart could not bear any more strain. And she effectively became my mistress after that. She took the place of Dumbledore as my confidante. I thoroughly regret having not gotten myself a whore sooner - she was so much more safe and trustworthy than he was."

A rueful smile emerged on his face. "I should look in on her," he said softly, "I wonder how she is. Anyway," he went on, "she eased my burdens significantly during that time. I was cared for in ways I'd never been cared for. I know I would not have gotten through that final year without her. And, she helped me realize that my obsession with Lily was not really the focal point of my life, at least not in the way I thought it was."

He took a deep breath, and looked up to read Hermione's face, as if he expected her to be judging him.

She wasn't. Her eyes were a little glassy, but she was listening soberly and quietly with rapt attention.

"You're ever the attentive student," he commented under his breath.

"Only when the material's worth learning," she responded quietly.

He nodded. "So anyway. As my life became more and more colorful with that relationship - if you can call it that - my obsession with Lily was fading in importance with every passing day. Soon my whole life prior to his death seemed like a nightmare. And I began to realize how Albus had clipped my emotional wings, so to speak. He had actively kept me attached to her - attributing everything I did to her in ways that were persuasive to me at the time, but once I was out of his cloud of influence, lost their power."

He was at a place emotionally where he was able to pick at his food again, and he began to munch on a slice of toast. "So much of our relationship - I mean mine with Albus - was one centered around debt," he said between bites. "I was in debt to him, in debt to Lily, in debt to society. And he fueled the fires of self-hatred that burned in me so fiercely. He liked to let me believe that I was one fucked-up fucker who was responsible for all the fucked-up-ness of the world. It was easier to control me, I suppose."

Hermione felt her heartbeat, and the rise and fall of her stomach as she breathed. She wasn't sure what to say, if anything.

Snape went on, "And even after Albus was dead and the albatross around my neck slipped off, for a while I still walked around like I was still wearing it, because I was conditioned to the weight."

He glanced at her and made eye contact, but he wasn't testing her this time he used the term weight, at least not really. It was like he was testing a floorboard that he was fairly certain would hold, but wanted to check to see if it would squeak if he stepped on it.

Hermione was rock-solid, and didn't squeak.

He took a deep breath. "But! Once I had 'died,' and had a moment alone to think, and wasn't being pulled every which way to fill a position running Hogwarts that I didn't ask for - I realized that the debt that had trapped me was gone. I was cold and alone and naked and starting again from square one, but dammit, I was free."

Hermione felt her face drain with emotion. She closed her eyes and breathed heavily. She felt like she'd just read a really intense novel and wanted to cry. "May… may I ask," she said quietly, "Why on earth would you choose to come back then, to this place where you were so abused?"

He seemed genuinely pleased she had asked. "Merely to prove to myself, Professor Granger," he said, picking up his napkin from his lap and putting it unceremoniously on the table, "that the shadows had no power over me any more."

And then, in a thoroughly delightful way, he added, "Also, magical research. Peace and quiet, not needing to hide my explosions and strange smells from the Muggle neighbors. Perfect timing, too, because I was so fucking sick of the drugs busts."

This lighthearted comment did not divert Hermione from her primary set of emotions of the moment: Snape was fucking badass. Even more than she'd thought he was.

"Do you know," Hermione said, practically whimpering, "how terrifyingly great you seem right now?"

He was taken aback, but after a moment of consideration, he took it in a way that showed he was flattered.

"Erm," he said, "it's… not as though my life is fiction devised for your amusement," he said, though he wasn't biting. He merely sounded bewildered.

"You're still great," Hermione replied, swelling with sadness and affection, a poisonous brew that threatened to explode her heart.

"I don't feel it," he said, slowly. "At least, recently, I've felt like I've been copacetic. But that's not until recently. So, great? Not in my vocabulary."

"Shush," she said in response, not able to articulate, just emote. "I think you're great. End of story."

He seemed to hesitate, but a lopsided smile emerged on his face. "Well," he said, "the feeling is… mutual?"

He sounded uncertain about it, but Hermione was soaring.

And angry.

Dammit, why did he have to have a girlfriend?

"Aren't you hungry?" he asked, breaking her mood swing gracefully. "You've barely touched your food. It'd be a shame to waste it. Poor elves will be broken-hearted."

Hermione shrugged. "I guess I'm not."

Snape took another sip of coffee, then heaved his way out of his comfortable chair. "How about we try and get a little more in there, shall we?"

Hermione flushed quite red, and nodded vigorously.

They proceeded to stuff Hermione until the clock chimed, and she left reluctantly, almost too satiated to teach her class.

"You know," Hermione said as she left, "we were supposed to talk about Erika. And you were supposed to gloat."

He shrugged. "So sorry. Tangents, you know."

But she had the sneaking suspicion that he was holding out on her, for some reason. Teasing her.

Well, she could wait, if he wanted her to. She might be a greedy girl, but she'd show him that she was at least a patient one.

Chapter Text

"Blimey, 'Mione," Ron said from the other side of the Floo, "you're putting it on, aren't you?"

"Thanks for being so considerate, Ron, as always," Hermione sniped back, rolling her eyes. She loved him, but sometimes he was just such a blockhead. In her defense, she wassitting in such a position that her belly prominently blocked out as much of Ron's face as possible. And also gave him an unabridged view of how plump she'd gotten since she'd last seen him.

"Sorry," he said, abashed. "I just… you know. I miss you. And, you know, I think you look cute when you're chubby."

Hermione wished she could say the same about missing Ron, but she hadn't thought much about Ron and the demise of their relationship in a while. At least not since the school year started.

"Thanks," she said, ignoring his chubby comment. "I'm keeping myself busy," she said, fluffing herself up like a hen. "I mean, being a student was a cakewalk compared to this."

"I'm sure," Ron said, smiling. "I can't believe we're not together anymore, 'Mione."

"Well, you'd better start believing it," said Hermione crossly, "given everything we've gone through. Don't tell me you are getting cold feet about Rodney?"

Ron blushed a furious red. "Don't say that," he said with a grimace. "It's not like that at all. In fact, we're moving in together."

"Oh." Hermione plastered on a fake smile, thinking of their little flat in London, where he still lived. She knew Rodney cursorily, and she really wished that Ron had fallen in love with one of the surely-abundant more-aesthetically-sensitive gay men in the world. The whole flat's color scheme was white and khaki, not colors that would stand up well to Rodney's large muddy boots. "Congratulations. When is that happening ?"

Ron looked down, mortified. "Erm. Whenever I tell my folks, I guess."

"Can't you just… pass as roommates for a while?" Hermione suggested, though she was sure Ron had a good reason that this wouldn't work.

"We talked about it," said Ron, "but neither of us is particularly interested in pretending. He's… he's being really patient, 'Mione, but I'm afraid that either my parents are going to disown me or he's going to leave me. And I really don't want either of those things to happen."

"Well," Hermione said gently, "you've got to tell them sometime."

"Do I?" Ron asked, and in his eyes she saw the strategist. "I mean, if I think of a way out of it - why not take it? I just need to come upon the right course of action." He looked at her with puppy-dog eyes. "I love my family and Rodney both. Why should I be forced to choose?"

"There's no guarantee that you'll be forced to choose," Hermione said, "Your father would definitely not disown you. I know him. He's sympathetic to queer issues."

"But it's not dad I'm worried about," said Ron with a sigh.

Both of them knew who he was worried about: Molly, the ever-doting "when am I going to be having grandchildren?" matron. When Hermione and Ron had, while still together, implied that children were going to be out of the question because of Hermione's desire to remain career-focused, Molly Weasley's eyes had burned, and she had begun a tirade the likes of which Hermione had never seen before directed at her.

Am I not good enough for you because I'm a mother and housewife? Children are the future of the world. Do you not care about the world's future? You're an intelligent witch - you should be morally obligated to have children. Children are everything! If you will not bear my son's children, you will never be a part of this family.

Thus, Hermione had a lot of empathy for Ron, when Ron wanted to avoid coming out to his family as gay.

"Well, anything I can do to help, let me know," Hermione said. "Have you spoken to Harry recently?"

Ron shook his head, somber. "I don't know if we'll ever talk again," he said, with deep pathos. "You know."

"Yeah," Hermione said, sadly. "I know."

Harry hadn't been particularly helpful when Ron came out to him a few months ago, though granted he was really put on the spot by Ron's declaration of love for him, and Hermione couldn't blame Harry for needing some space. When it came between choosing between the love of your life and her brother… well, as an unequivocally straight dude, Harry had chosen the love of his life, and Hermione couldn't blame him. At least Harry, without needing a reminder, promised to keep his lips sealed about Ron's non-normative inclinations.

"I guess I understand it," Ron said, still in grief, "I guess in his place, it'd feel a little weird."

"Sure," Hermione said, though she herself couldn't imagine abandoning one or the other of the boys because of something as uncertain and flexible and relatively unimportant as unrequited affection. She'd gone between fancying one, then the other, then both, then neither of her best mates, with some fluctuation in between. Ultimately, having them as friends was more important than having either one of them have a relationship with her in any particular way.

"So what are you doing for fun, 'Mione," Ron said, trying to be encouraging. "Are you seeing anyone?"

"No, not really." Hermione flushed red. She really wished that she could call what she did with Snape some amount of 'dating,' but was quite unable to do so. "But I do see a lot of Snape, though."

"Wait," Ron said, stunned. "What?"

"Oh, you didn't know?" Hermione said, though of course she knew Ron didn't. She wanted act casual about the whole thing, knowing that Ron still harbored a great deal of hatred for Snape. "Snape's alive. Came back to do research here. He and I are…" she paused. "Friends? I guess?"

"Hermione," Ron said, emotional. "I forbid you to see that man as a friend."

"Well, too bad," Hermione said, "you definitely don't have a say in who I see as a friend. Even when we were together, I never allowed you to define what I did with my time."

Ron rolled his eyes, aggrieved, but he knew he wasn't going to get anywhere.

"Just… Hermione? He's such a slimy git. Are you sure he's not a vampire, coming back from the dead?"

She just laughed. "He's definitely not a vampire, Ron," she scolded. "And I'll have you know that I don't intend to sit idly by while you keep on saying cruel things about him."

"What, would you stop him if he was mocking Harry and me," Ron said with a growl.

"Yes," Hermione responded, "believe it or not, as I get to know him, you and he have some real points of similarity, now that he's not running around being a double agent."

"Yeah, right," Ron said in disbelief. "Merlin, at this rate, 'Mione, next time I talk to you, you'll be engaged."

"Not likely," said Hermione firmly. "He's got a girlfriend."

"What?" Ron said, his mind clearly blown. "Snape. Has a girlfriend."

"Yeah," Hermione said, shaking her head at Ron's reaction.

"Snape has a girlfriend," Ron repeated. "Well, she better watch out." He was shaking his head. "I can tell you got the hots for him."

"Maybe a little," she admitted. "But don't you dare tell anyone."

"Oh, I was thinking of shouting it off the rooftops," he responded, still shaking his head. "'Mione, you got to know that he's a slimeball. You know I can tell. I never liked him."

"How on earth is that supposed to be a good barometer," she said with a sniff. "You started hating Viktor once we started dating."

"But that's because I fancied him, you arse," he responded. "Come on, 'Mione, you know I care about you."

"Then let me make my own mistakes," she said, and added, despite her better judgment not to, "Don't try and be your mum."

He clouded. "Okay. Fine. I won't. Go on. Go fuck that slimeball. When he dumps your arse and come back crying to me, I'll tell you that I told you so."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ron, again, he's taken. I'm not stepping into that mess."

"I can't imagine he'll be taken long," Ron said with a grumble. "He's too much of a slimy git to stay in someone's hands when there's something more attractive to look at."

"You're presuming he finds me more attractive," Hermione said, getting frustrated of this conversation.

"Who wouldn't!" Ron cried, then clarified, "Erm, what straight guy wouldn't! Or lez girl," he added, fumbling as Hermione flat-out laughed at him. "I dunno. You're attractive, 'Mione. Don't underestimate the power you have as a drop-dead gorgeous girl."

She just shook her head. "I never, and still don't, understand why you think I'm so irresistible. I don't do makeup. I don't work out. I don't eat small portions. I suck at managing my hair. And I rarely shave my legs and whatnot."

"None of those things matter," Ron said, smiling ruefully. "You don't know men, 'Mione. There's something else about you that makes men swoon over you."

"And what's that?" Hermione asked, indulging him.

"Charisma?" Ron suggested.

"Well, gee, that simplifies matters," Hermione sniped. "I'll stop taking my charisma pills. Then I won't be attractive to the likes of Snape, and I'll keep celibate until one day you preemptively dump Rodney, and you decide you want to pretend to be straight for your parents' sake, and you buy me a wedding ring. And then we'll suffer through twenty years ofwhere's my grandbabies and, in the end divorce quietly. This plan okay with you?"

"Shut up," Ron said, laughing lowly. "You know we're past that point."

"Just a reminder," Hermione said, smirking. "I'm willing to go to the mat for you, my dear, but a life-long commitment to misery isn't a simple matter of defending your best mate from a cruel world."

"We could make it work," Ron joked, though it took her a moment to see he was joking. "This place is a two-bedroom. One bedroom for you, one for me. You can fuck as many blokes as you like - or, or women, I guess - and I'll fuck as many blokes as I like. If we get bored, we can fuck each other. And someday, if Harry decides he's into the idea, we can fuck him together. Sound good?"

"Perfect," Hermione said with a hearty laugh. "Just what I envision for the rest of my life. One big house of fuckery."

"That's what we can call it," Ron said, "House of Fuckery. Or just to confuse people, we could call it House of No Fucks, for no fucks given."

"That's great, Ron," Hermione said with an indulging laugh. "Well, I'm gonna ring off now. Got loads to edit for class tomorrow."

"That's right," Ron said with a grin. "Well, call me when you end up fucking Snape."

"Which won't happen," said Hermione, trying to persuade the inkling of hope that was winding its way around her heart the more that Ron talked about it.

"And later you'll be mortified you were in such denial," Ron replied, chipper. "Go on, have fun. Bang the slimy old cock."

"I love you," she said, trying to shut him up, a smile on her face.

"I love you," he replied, "talk to you later."

He threw some ash on his end, and the floo went back to normal flames.

Hermione heaved herself up out of her chair and went to the kitchen for some water. As she passed the door, she noticed there was an origami swan next to the door, flapping its wings and looking highly annoyed at having been kept waiting.

"Oh," she said, wondering how long it had been there. It gave a little squawk, and she picked it up, whereupon it unfolded into a flat piece of paper.

Sleep cycle's fucked up, read the note. Dinner tomorrow instead of breakfast?

"Yes," she said, and began to look for a quill, but as she spoke, the word formed on the page.

Whereupon the swan refolded itself, dove out of her hand, and slipped under the door without another sound.

Hermione was touched by the delightful little thing, and she got the distinct sense that it was a little attempt to show off.

Which got her to thinking - was her attraction to Snape all that obvious? She knew that Snape was aware that she liked to watch him eat. But did he realize that it extended beyond that?

If he did, what did that mean?

She wasn't sure. All she knew was, she was looking forward to dining with him without the obstruction of class terminating their time together.

She wondered what would happen instead.

Chapter Text

The fantasies she had about what might happen at dinner made Hermione float all through Thursday despite herself. The students would have all gotten O's on their tests if she wasn't careful.

The one problem with meeting after the school day ended, instead of before it started, was that she was somewhat at the mercy of the students who attended her office hours.

This meant she was running later than she would have liked to meet with Snape. Then again he'd never specified a time. But the Great Hall served dinner at 7, so she wasn't able to get rid of her students until the gong rang.

"Aren't you coming?" asked one of the more clingy students, who seemed to want to keep bending Hermione's ear on the way there.

And Hermione, being the ever-enthusiastic young teacher she was, let her ear be bent for a full half hour as the 11-year-old sobbed about being socially isolated from the other people in his house.

After dismissing the child with a hug, a tchotchke from her desk-drawer (she had a bunch of cute toys from George's shop ready for this exact kind of occasion), and a promise to make another appointment, Hermione raced up the stairs to the teacher's wing, two at a time.

Snape was reading comfortably, leaning back in his chair and nibbling on bread and butter when she flew in the door. He looked up at her expectantly, looking for all the world like a landed English gentleman with little else to do than sit and enjoy the simple hedonistic pleasures of life.

"You're late," he said with the slightest scold in his voice.

"Were you worried I wouldn't come?" asked Hermione, feeling for all the world as if she'd stepped into a Victorian novel. Indeed, Snape looked slightly more dapper than usual, with a satin cravat and almost-skintight waistcoat with buttons that ran the entire length of his torso, from his succulent double chins to the smiling lower curve of his stomach.

He looked scornful, but didn't look at her. "Of course not." But she felt like he protested a little too forcefully.

The room was lit by candles under frosted glass, which lent the room a further antiquated air. Usually in the light of the morning, she didn't notice these details. Now, however, she looked down at what she was wearing herself. This morning - or, at least, last time she'd awoken from her time-turner nap - had been one of those mornings where the thing she'd put on was a bit more fancy than it'd looked on the hanger, but when it was on, she decided it looked so good she couldn't take it off.

Generally, in the school environment, her garb was conservative, taking a leaf out of McGonagall's book. This garment was no exception, but it was particularly lovely. A high collar, dark green silk brocade, tiny vestigial buttons along the collar that made a line down to her narrow wrist. Her hair was pulled back partly by a clip, just enough that it looked casual - she didn't have enough time to do the laborious task of straightening out all the curls with a flat-iron.

The one drawback of this particular dress was that it required a corset. So she was wearing one. With its aid, her middle was readjusted according to the needs of the garment, belly thrust low below the waist, breasts popping up, waist cinched as tightly as she could get with the aid of a doorknob to yank the laces into submission. She ultimately felt very sexy, though in retrospect it might not have been the best choice of outfit for eating herself silly in.

"You look fabulous," Hermione said, sitting and taking a piece of bread. "Just fabulous."

"Same to you," he said, folding his book and lazily tossing it onto the couch with a sweep of his arm. "What's the occasion?"

She was taken aback, having assumed that he'd dressed up for this dinner, and having assumed that he would assume the same.

It took her a moment to notice the silent peals of mirth in his eyes as he made eye contact with her. He was toying with her.

"Oh, no particular reason," she responded loftily, and grinned back at him. "Just dinner with a friend."

"I see," he said, running a hand absentmindedly - or was it? - up and down the buttons of his stomach. "Just a friend," he repeated carefully.

"Yeah, I mean," Hermione went on, "he's got a girlfriend, so, you know."

He looked back at her archly. "Have you spoken with him about the nature of his relationship with said girlfriend?"

She felt a twist in her lower abdomen. "Not in so many words," she responded.

Continuing to stroke the brocade of his waistcoat with one hand, in such a way that looked like he was truly enjoying it, he heaved out of his chair and walked over to the mantel to stare into the fire, his other hand behind his back.

"What if his relationship with said girlfriend was…flexible?"

Hermione felt a jolt of excitement thrill her veins.

"Erm. What would such a thing mean?" she asked, realizing her legs were trembling as though she were very cold.

He turned around and looked her in the eye, seeming to assess whether or not he should proceed. He did.

"You might ask him if, in an ethical and sensitive fashion, he was interested in pursuing an additional relationship with you."

"What," Hermione said, finding her breath was slipping away from her. "Like… an open marriage?"

He smiled long-sufferingly. "Sans the marriage, yes. Polyamory?"

She sat there thinking for a moment. She'd joked occasionally about menage-a-trois with Ron, as well as the possibility of them engaging covertly in an open marriage. But the idea of pursuing a relationship with a person who was already committed to someone else… that felt different.

What if Snape was the slimy git that Ron imagined? She wondered briefly if this was the sort of thing that married men used to convince naive girls to bed them. Polyamory. The word hung heavy in her gut.

"Uh," she said, finding her breaths were shallow and difficult, "uh."

She'd not been expecting this. If she had expected anything, it would have been along the lines of Erika's not real, or Erika broke up with me this morning, or Erika's so far away, how about we keep each other company. Honestly, any of those would have been better choices if he was planning on cheating on Erika with her.

Still, she was in doubt about the offer's authenticity. She didn't have any frame of reference for this.

"Is this a trick?" she asked. "I… I find it hard to believe that two people who love each other that way would agree to have sex with other people as part of their schema."

Snape was clearly disappointed, and sat down again.

"A moment," he said, and clapped his hands to summon Lowly. "Let's order. I'm starved."

Lowly showed up, bobbing brightly, and Snape didn't look up once as he ordered. If Hermione thought he ate a lot in the mornings, she was dumbfounded by the amount he ordered tonight. Two kinds of pasta (red and white sauces), lobster bisque, a whole roasted chicken with trimmings, an entire steak and kidney pie, a large quantity of rice biryani, nicoise salad, fish and chips, and cucumber salad. His selection was haphazard, almost fatalistic, as if he were ordering a cocktail of poisons without attention to what they were - apparently, the larger the quantity, the greater the likelihood of one of them successfully killing him.

Hermione looked at him in awe as she opened her mouth to order for herself, and she chosen a creamy, heavy pasta and some lobster bisque of her own, followed by cucumber salad.

They soon sat there, effectively drooling at the amount of food that was headed their ways.

"Can you really eat all that?" Hermione asked, thoroughly distracted from the problem at hand.

He just smiled, pressing his lips tightly together, and said succinctly, "We'll see."

Hermione closed her eyes and thought about how deliciously fat Snape was going to look after this meal - she knew he was in danger of bursting the buttons of his waistcoat, which were already straining.

But, ahem. She needed to sort out what this whole polyamorous thing meant.

So, taking another bit of bread, she chewed thoughtfully and asked, "So tell me about what it means, that you're polyamorous." She pronounced the word carefully, and Snape smiled a little at her.

"She had a serious boyfriend before we met," Snape said. "She lives with him now. His name is Jean-Raoul."

"Jean-Raoul?" Hermione asked, and then nodded, as she filed this away. "I see. Continue."

Snape shrugged. "There's not that much to say. I was dating a girl but I hadn't deactivated my online profile from a dating site. I got a message from Erika asking her if I was interested in meeting. We coordinated, and she showed up, and I was intrigued by her - far more than by the other girl I had been dating for the past month. She was beautiful, vivacious, flirtatious, and drove me wild the moment I set eyes on her. And she was also interested in me, even though she already had a boyfriend."

He smiled, looking down into his glass of wine, which Lowly had poured before leaving.

"She didn't need a lover to make her life complete. If that had been the case, she'd be entirely set. She and Jean-Raoul had three years of solid relationship behind them, two years of which were poly in nature. She explained to me: she didn't need someone to love to make her life complete. What she did need was variety, and the additional stimulation of meeting new people. And the freedom to pursue romantic endeavors with them if she chose to. And - well - you can imagine why this appealed to me."

"Tell me," said Hermione. She had no intention of letting down her guard until she knew everything there was to know about the situation.

"What else," Snape said, "but the idea that someone would choose to be with me when they had no objective need to be with someone. At some points of my life, I would have accepted anyone who threw themselves at me, no matter their reasons for wanting to be with me. But at the point where Erika and I began to date, I had already played the lovelorn sap a few times - Lily being the greatest example, of course - and was fairly sick of it. It was a pattern that wasn't worth repeating, and since she was interested in dating me because she genuinely thought me interesting… well, that was what I wanted. I wanted to be appreciated for myself, not for what I could bring to the table in a relationship, so to speak."

He sighed and relaxed into his chair, sipping his wine. "She's wonderful," he said, "and she really helped me get to the...better-balanced place where I am today. I think she is my best friend, really, in this dismal world we live in. But I suppose I should clarify," he said gracefully, "she's not what you'd call my primary girlfriend."

He took a deep breath, and added, "It's easier sometimes to pretend she is, especially among people who don't and won't understand. But neither she nor I has any desire to actually live our lives together the way a traditional couple might."

"Who is your primary girlfriend?" Hermione asked, dreading that there was yet another woman in Snape's heart.

His response was anticlimactic. Feigning ambivalence, he held up his glass to the light and swirled it. The rosy color fell onto the table. "No one, right now. But I would be interested in exploring you as a candidate."

Hermione felt her body grow tighter. "Erm, well." She took a deep breath. "I don't think I can give you an answer right away."

"Take your time," he drawled, "whatever happens, happens. It's taken me a month to adjust to the idea that you're not my student, and that you are, indeed, a consenting adult. It will take me even longer to get over the fact that you used to be my student, and I'm this attracted to you." He sighed. "Maybe you're still stuck in that place as well. I'm sure that if we proceed, that may cause some rifts down the line. And also," he added, though he lowered his head and let strands of loose sidebangs obscure his face, "if this is all you want to do with me - be friends - I can live with that. I think."

He took a deep breath and swallowed. "There. I think all my cards are on the table now."

She smiled at him. "I doubt it, you Slytherin," she said, sitting back and relaxing in her chair as well.

He appeared to be in pain, not looking at her directly, but peeping out at her through his hair. "So. What are your thoughts?"

"My thoughts," Hermione said, realizing that he'd just done the remarkable thing of basically giving her his heart to do with as she pleased. "I know that I wouldn't be able to live with just being friends. I think it's clear that there's something too magnetic happening here to ignore. I admit that I don't know what to do. I don't exactly have enough information to make a conclusion towards having a relationship with you or… or not. But I do think that I want to. I just don't know what to make of this. I thought, truly, you were unable to engage with me in this way."

"Despite all my… erm… flirting?" he said, appearing to be on the verge of laughing nervously.

She nodded. "Gryffindor. Too trusting."

"Fair enough." He took a deep breath, his stomach heaving visibly. "So, it didn't occur to you that there might be the possibility of engaging with me romantically at all."

"No," Hermione said, "at least not ethically."

"But you wanted to," he clarified. "That much was evident."

"I mean," Hermione said, flushing to her roots, "I wouldn't have probably if you looked the way you had when I was in school."

It was his turn to blush. "R-really?" He rubbed his eyes deliberately, and opened them wide. "So. Wait. If I were in the best shape of my life, I wouldn't have been attractive to you?"

"I… I guess?" Hermione said, feeling herself tremble. "I mean, it's not exactly something I knew until I saw you at the end of August. I'd had a crush on you while I was in school, but it was different, you know?"

"So," he clarified, "in my current...shape...you find me exponentially more attractive than as the lithe, well-exercised man I was back then."

"That's what I'm saying, isn't it?" Hermione responded, swallowing hard against her less than ladylike reaction tightening in her cervix.

He shook his head in wonderment. "I'm so surprised," he said, his throat tight, "and I'm ever so pleased. Because I like myself better this way as well. But the reaction is far from universal, particularly among women."

"Isn't it weird," Hermione said, "how much importance society places on thinness? It's not exactly logical. Sure, from a biological standpoint, I guess it's harder to run from danger if you're fat, but at the same time, isn't it nice to have the luxury of being fat? Isn't it nicer to know you'll likely never have to run from danger again?"

"Yes," he said, and he picked up his napkin, lowered his head, and dabbed at his eyes. "It's someone else's problem now. Not mine."

Hermione felt a rush of tenderness. She got up, stepped over to him, and, hesitantly, drew his hair away from his face.

"I don't know what this means, yet," she said, crouching to meet him at eye level, "but I'd like to kiss you."

His eyes were glassy, but the smile on his face was genuine. "Please do."

So she did.

And it was wonderful.

 

Chapter Text

They broke away from each other reluctantly, but with promises in their eyes.

In the meantime, Lowly had snuck in and out, filled their wineglasses, plated their dinners, and departed without a sound.

"Well, I guess we can eat," Hermione said, looking at the spread. Her nose was accosted happily by the wonderful tapestry of smells.

"Sit closer," Snape said, and with a flick of his wrist he moved her chair from being across the table to being perpendicular to him.

She sat back down in it gently without an objection - All the better to watch you chew, my dear - and picked up her fork.

"So," Snape was saying, as he elegantly sliced the meat from the chicken bones. "Have you ever had a crush on more than one person at once?"

"I… I actually have," said Hermione, feeling a little sad at having lost Harry with the whole Ron-being-gay thing.

Snape took a bite, swallowed, and prepared his next one, almost daintily. "Wouldn't you prefer to live in a world where dating both of them was more… accepted than not?"

"Well," Hermione said ruefully, "I'd have liked the chance, but what about jealousy?"

Snape chuckled. "If I'm not mistaken, you're thinking of Potter and Weasley."

"They're my best mates," Hermione responded sharply, "and I love both of them, in their ways."

Snape smiled resolutely. "I'll try not to judge you. How are they both?"

Hermione sighed. "Harry's married, Ron's in love with a Quidditch star, we're pretending I dumped Ron instead of the other way round, to keep his family from knowing that he's gay."

"That's...intense," Snape said, looking more amused than anything. "So you set yourself up against the wrath of Molly Weasley for him. How formidable."

Hermione shrugged. "Ron's preferred plan was for us to get married and have babies and pretend we actually enjoy fucking each other, and for me to let him go fuck dudes on weekends, and presumably for me to go fuck girls, because even though he professes to be gay, he doesn't want anyone else's dick inside me."

"I hope you don't pay attention to him in that respect," Snape said cooly, "Because otherwise that would be a significant problem for a relationship with me, if we are to form one."

"Oh, of course," Hermione said cheerfully. "If we become an item, I fully intend to fuck you. Quite a bit, actually."

"Good," Snape said, spots of color appearing on his cheeks, and he began to dive more heartily into the chicken trimmings of sauteed spinach, carrots, and onions.

Hermione poked her fork at a clove of garlic on his plate. "Can I have?"

"...yes," he said, his mouth full, and he swallowed. "But you can only have vegetables from my plate, you understand me?"

He added, with a grimace, "And potatoes. Fucking hate potatoes. Have all you want of those, if I'm so unfortunate as to receive them by accident."

Hermione decided to wait to prove about this aversion to potatoes, and kept her fork to herself, and twisted linguini around it. She was regretting not having gotten chicken in her pasta.

"If you want something of mine that's more substantial," Snape added, seeing her look, "order some for yourself."

Chided, Hermione nodded, and grabbed another clove of garlic from his chicken.

In response, he smiled at he and pushed the chicken towards her. "Well, I guess I can share. I don't think I can finish all this food, though I wonder if between the two of us, we can."

Hermione flushed again, and took several choice bits of chicken breast and thighs.

Snape pulled a large bowl of rice biryani towards him and began to eat steadily.

"One of the great advantages of living at Hogwarts again," he said dreamily, digging at his rice, "is the unlimited quantity and the incomparable quality of the food." He swallowed bites of the light biryani as fast as he could (and it was very fast, considering it was fluffy, oily rice, which he seemed to suck down his hungry gullet without much effort at all). "I admit, I dreamed about coming back here just to gorge myself. After so many years of living here, paying for every meal in the outside world was beginning to grate on me."

"I'd say the same," Hermione said, "but I was rolling in the dough at my Ministry job - no, don't look at me like that, I wasn't on the public advocate's office's payroll, there was some dodgy tax stuff going on - so going to elite London restaurants taught me better than to think that Hogwarts' food was the best on earth."

"To each their own," Snape said, toasting her with a spoonful of rice, "but I think it tastes all the better for being free."

"I'll grant you that," Hermione said with a smile, and finished her pasta, pushing the brimming bowl of bisque into her line of reach.

She sipped it with her spoon and nearly melted at the warm buttery goodness of it. "Mmm," she breathed, "this is really excellent."

Then, inspired, she took Snape's spoon and dipped it into his soup, and took it to his lips on his behalf.

He was clearly intrigued, and his face flushed red. But he swallowed the rice in his mouth and accepted the spoon without hesitation. "Mmm," he said, sitting back in his chair and putting two hands on his massive, increasingly-taut belly. "More, please."

Hermione was tickled pink to feed him the fatty brew, and he accepted several more bites of it, but eventually shook his head and picked up his fork again.

"Two things," he said, then amended, "no, three. First, that was lovely. I liked it a lot. Your interest in seeing me eat is… uncommonly exciting."

Hermione flushed. He also flushed, and cleared his throat to hide his emotion.

"Second," Snape said, "I prefer to save the heavier foods for last. If I can resist them. They are satiative, make one feel fuller faster. My preferred method is: carbohydrates first, with some proteins over time, and then as much heavy food as I can stomach."

Hermione nodded. "Understood," she said, pushing the bowl away.

"Third," he said, and he leaned forward, "I'd like to ask you a favor… if you could touch my stomach when you're feeding me, that would be...good. And, erm," his voice dropped lower, "talk about how big it's getting?"

"Sure, that's amenable to me," Hermione said brightly, and she gently wrestled the biryani spoon from his hand into hers. Then, as she scanned the table, she realized there was a serving spoon that might better serve the purpose of stuffing him. She grabbed the silver serving spoon and dipped it into the rice, brought it up sideways to Snape's face, and bid him, "Eat."

As obedient as a hog at a full trough, he did indeed eat from the spoon, his tongue sneaking out and lapping it out of the basin like a dog.

You can imagine what Hermione was thinking about as she watched him licking that rice so diligently, excitedly, and gently out of that spoon. (Hint: she wasn't imagining him licking something else out of a spoon - instead out of another kind of crevice.)

Highly aroused, she touched his rounding stomach and rubbed it tenderly as she fed him, and he moaned into his food whenever she touched a particularly sensitive spot.

Soon, though, he needed a break, and she scooted herself back slightly, and he sipped his wine and looked incredibly comfortable and portly, with one hand resting on the shelf his tummy made, the other holding his wine with elegant fingers.

"So jealousy," Hermione said, as he stifled a burp in his napkin, "Don't you get jealous of Jean-Raoul?"

He shrugged. "Jealous of Erika's time, certainly. She's incredibly busy. At first I was a bit afraid that her saying she was busy was her brushing me off. But she introduced me to one of her other non-primary lovers, and she assured me that Erika is truly just busy."

"How many partners does she have?" Hermione exclaimed, feeling horrified at the idea of talking with a metamour.

"Erm," Snape said, "Not entirely sure. I asked her at one point, and she gave me a list of people she counts herself as currently having some kind of relationship with. Granted, I'm closer to her than most of the people on the list - about half are people she only sees at conferences. But as far as a number goes, I think it's around fifteen, with fluctuations as relationships change and such."

Hermione frowned. "So she hooks up with people at conferences?"

"Yes," Snape said with a shrug. "Though granted, this phenomenon of bonking at conferences isn't that unusual - this is actually something that I've known about for some time. I just didn't realize that it was often a poly thing. Instead, in my most jealous days, I thought it was just some large network of deviants that complicitly got together for orgies or something. Which, they do," he mused, "but I thought it was a great deal more sinister and exclusive than I've learned since."

"So, Erika has more partners than you can keep track of," Hermione said. "Would that be something I could expect out of a relationship with us?"

His face became stony at the proposal. "Not at all," he said, his voice nearly a growl. "I'm too possessive for that. If we start dating, Hermione," he said, carefully testing out using her first name, "I'd prefer a much smaller circle between the two of us."

She smiled back. "I see. So you do have jealousy."

"It's… a different set of expectations,that I'd have," he responded. "I don't want to restrict you, of course. But I'm a lot less…"

He sighed, struggling to find words. Then he restarted.

"...I've already lost a lot to carelessness and errors," he said, not looking at her, "And while I'm excited to share a form of living with you that's vibrant and has the potential to enhance our overall life satisfaction, social support system networks, and all that rot, I can't be as carefree as Jean-Raoul and Erika. They have their form of poly. It happens to be compatible with my relationship with Erika. But I know that my own practice of poly looks different from theirs.

"And especially with...erm...you," he said, glancing up and glancing down again, "I'm not interested in something casual with you. That's because, on my own part, I don't care for casual relationships. But," he added, his voice getting lower, "I also know that I wouldn't want you to be in too many casual relationships either."

"Because of jealousy?" asked Hermione.

"To put it plainly," Snape said with a grimace. He didn't like to admit it, and he stabbed at the chicken again. He'd gotten most of the meat off it, so Hermione pushed forward the first plate of pasta.

"Thanks," he said, not glancing at her, tucking away a good forkful.

"Welcome," she said. She sat there thinking, listening to him chew, and she sipped her soup some more. "Yeah," she said at last, "I'm glad you said all that. It does make me feel like what you're saying is actually something that might work for me."

"I'm...glad," he said, looking up and smiling at her, still looking worried.

"What else are you thinking?" asked Hermione, somewhat puzzled. "Did I do something wrong?"

"Oh, no," Snape responded, taking another few bites, "I just… well…"

It took another reassuring glance from Hermione and a few bites more to get his nerve to say, "I was...worried?" He seemed to be trying the word out. "I… yes, I was worried that you were late today. It still hasn't shaken off."

"I am sorry," Hermione said gently. "There was a student."

Snape looked at her quizzically.

"Student in tears," she amended. "Tell me, do you often get first-years with social isolation issues? Or was that just 11-year-old me?"

Snape looked stricken, and stabbed another bit of chicken meat. "I didn't know you were one of them," he said. "If you'd brought it up, I'd have taken care of it."

"How?" Hermione asked, "because I don't see the other teachers doing anything else other than saying 'go join a club!,' which is profoundly unhelpful as you might guess."

"I had my methods," Snape said, "and actually, I'm ashamed that I haven't thought to reinstate them. I don't know...who took over head of Slytherin House?"

"Some tosser named Reginald Floss," Hermione said off-handedly. "I haven't spoken with him. He's not as ancient of blood as the Malfoys or Blacks, but he's from an older family, so it seems."

"I know the name," Snape said with a tone of disgust. "Taught Reginald when he was in his last three years. He's…" He paused. "Let's just say, I hope he's changed as much as I have, with the war."

"I can't speak to that," Hermione reiterated, "never talked to him."

"I see," Severus said, and went on, "So what I did is fairly simple, though honestly it should be school policy: all students in Slytherin house, when I was head, had randomly-assigned study groups that met continuously throughout the year, with the requirement of meeting at least twice or three times a week during study period."

He took a few bites, swallowed, and went on, "To deal with administrative duties, I assigned a house head boy and girl to manage, and whenever an issue came up that was beyond the seventh-years, they came to me. For the most part, these groups ran themselves. And whenever a student from another house was brought to my attention, I gave them a role in one of the groups."

"Brilliant," Hermione said sadly. "I wish that I'd spoken with you, though I'm not sure I would have wanted to be friends with Slytherins."

"Is that so?" he said, somewhat amused. "Think back, Granger. I doubt your beliefs about the houses were as firm back then. I think you might have been more receptive, if you were as lonely as you say you were. What might have mattered more to you - what the other houses said about Slytherin malice, or concrete evidence against this presumed truth?"

"Besides," he added for good measure, "we were the much-maligned house. No other house withstood so much abuse from the rest of the world. I think you might have been sympathetic to our… underdog status… same as any other marginalized group you care about."

Knowing full well he had won, he threw his hair back proudly.

She nodded gravely, thinking about the little girl she'd been, crying in the bathroom. "You know, I think you are right." She sighed. "So, I had no idea you were a fan of social interventions," she said, finding herself feeling more impressed by him than ever. "What inspired it?"

He looked at her darkly. "What else but creating the resource I wish I'd had?"

She nodded solemnly. She thought of him so much as being part of the tapestry of Slytherin that she did not often consider that he might not have fit in well there, either .

"I'm sorry," she said.

"Don't be bloody sorry," he snapped, not looking at her, stabbing his food viciously. "You didn't do it to me. If you must pity me for anything, pity me for the things I couldn't have changed, not the things that were a result of my poor choices and unfortunate circumstances. I'd prefer you feel pleased that I did something about it."

"I am," Hermione said. "Very pleased." She just looked at him until he looked up at her, and saw how softly she was gazing. His face became less strained.

"What on earth were you doing in the public advocate's office," he muttered, "your skills were certainly wasted there."

Not sure how to respond, Hermione let her fingers wander up to her hair, and she played with it a little, as she thought. Snape continued eating, though slower than before, as he seemed to be growing full. He pushed away the empty plate of pasta, gave up on the fairly-picked-dry chicken, and settled the steak-and-kidney pie in front of him.

"So since neither of us is head of house," Hermione said, "what do you suppose we should do to help create more social connections between the students?"

He appeared to give the question all the consideration it was due. "Two possibilities that might be effective," he said slowly, unearthing the meat from the pie with a practiced air. "First, we might lobby Professor Floss to do what I did. All the structures are there. The sixth and seventh-years at least will remember the system from their first and second years. Indeed," he said, finding himself keenly interested, "I'd like to see how those students have turned out, and what their thoughts are regarding the study groups."

Hermione nodded. "I think it'd be worth a try. But I think he might object on the grounds that implementing this mid-year would be difficult."

"Not if we pretend it's part of our larger plan," Severus said, smirking.

He took a deep breath, and paused, letting the food settle in his stomach. "If I remember correctly, my last Slytherin head girl wrote some excellent modules for discussion, though many of them were inconsistent, without any real logical flow, and didn't precisely jive."

Three quiet bites later, and he said, "I can't tell you how nice it is to talk about pedagogy and know that there's an actual chance that I can do the things I want to do."

"Instead of having your attention potentially drawn at any moment to the duties of a more sinister nature?" Hermione said, feeling the grief on his behalf. "I can understand that frustration. As it is, I focus myself so wholly and completely on my passions that I feel I don't have enough time to do the things I intend to do, without that obstacle."

"Time is a luxury," Severus said. "And for a while - before your cohort, because that's when everything turned for the worse - time was something I had an abundance of. I worked my ass off in order to keep my mind out of the darker places it was wont to wander. I know I was a beast of a man for most of the time you were at school," he said sullenly, "but I swear to you, I wasn't quite as bad before Mr. Potter arrived and the war shifted out of dormant."

"I mean," he went on, "I don't know what you thought of your seventh year, once you came back, but I assume it was much more quiet and uneventful than your other years."

"It was, Hermione said with a laugh. "It didn't quite feel the same, somehow."

Snape nodded sagely. "That's how it was before the war, before Quirrell showed his ugly face and the Dark Lord returned. While Dumbledore put on a placid, unconcerned front to the school about the whole matter, he was sending me hither and thither on personal errands of increasing levels of urgency. Of course, I took out the stress on the wrong set of people - the students."

He sighed deeply. "I particularly wish I had been able to convince Albus to remove Potter from his blood family. I personally feel that his insistence on the power of blood magic was a lot of twaddle; I myself know that the power of a loving environment provides so many other tangible and rewarding benefits that, in my professional view, would far outweigh the importance of any protection that blood might provide."

He grimaced. "I almost suspect that he intentionally wanted Potter to stay in that environment for other… more unsavory reasons."

A chill settled on the room, as Snape's words fell on ears that were highly attuned to this exact problem.

"I wanted to do more, too," Hermione said softly. "I tried to convince Harry to come and stay with my parents and me - they would have loved having him. But he always just relied on Dumbledore's good faith. I wrote him loads of letters, but I felt like they weren't that helpful."

"I argued with Albus for hours," Snape responded, sinking deeper into his chair, "but I never could manage him to change his mind. And unfortunately, Albus never argued out loud. Instead he spent so much time going 'he's got Lily's eyes! he's got James Potter's physique and bravado!' that it clouded my judgment where the boy was concerned."

He looked completely and utterly miserable.

"Before Potter came to school, I just pretended he didn't exist. But then Albus started priming me, in the guise of 'reminding me' to 'not let my feelings get in the way of my professionalism.' But I think his attempts were not in good faith," he said, shaking his head. "I didn't realize this until a year or so ago. I… I hestiate to say this, because I don't want to create the sense that I'm trying to excuse my actions by attributing them to some external locus of control…"

He took a breath, and looked at Hermione as if for permission to finish his thought. She nodded, supportive.

"..I felt like Dumbledore was deliberately trying to make me hate the child. A child that, otherwise, I would have been happy to pretend didn't exist."

He shrank into himself even more, and pushed his plate away from him.

"Now, granted," Snape said carefully, "he was incredibly supportive of Potter having you and Weasley as friends. But whenever an adult started to become involved in Potter's life, Albus did his best to keep them apart. I saw it several times. With Black - now granted, I'd probably have made that call as well, because Black was unprincipled and a bully same as James was - and with Remus Lupin."

"He had Hagrid," Hermione said.

"Yes," Snape said, pithily, "but Hagrid wasn't exactly a powerful wizard. A powerful friend, sure, but he didn't exactly have the skills or desire to, for example, take over the wizarding world. A harmless friend," he said with a smile.

Hermione began laughing. "What," she said, "you think Dumbledore was trying to break a future Tom Riddle?"

"Perhaps," Snape said, a little ashamed. "I don't know for sure. Maybe. Why else would he insist on giving the boy so many unreasonable expectations, forcing him to go back to an abusive home every fucking summer, and putting him in close proximity with someone who hated him as much as I did for over a year?"

Oh. Hermione had forgotten about the Occulmency lessons. She realized that snape probably knew Harry better, on some level, than she ever had or could.

"Granted," he said, "i felt like albus was using those lessons as a punishment for me, which i still think is true. But I was so, so angry," Snape said. "I wasn't safe for him. But Albus insisted that I work with the boy anyway. Can you imagine," he said, shaking his head. "Being in this school skews your perspective of reality.

Once I was out of it, I realized what lunacy Dumbledore was guilty of. And I can't help but hold my actions against myself. What if I had been able to see the similarities and not the differences between my own upbringing and Potter's? Who knows," Snape said, looking at the floor with undue interest, "maybe he and I would have found support in each other. Or something."

Hermione felt a shiver of sadness and empathy. "I don't know how to respond," she said, "I'm listening, but I don't know what to tell you. It's a terrifying thought, that Dumbledore might have wanted to cripple Harry so badly."

"It is," Snape said, "but do you doubt it? If he felt that it was for the greater good of the wizarding world, do you doubt for one moment that Dumbledore would have gone that far?"

And this, Hermione could not argue.

"I don't doubt it," she said, anger rising in her throat. "I don't at all."

"But no matter what I said or did," Snape said, "I always felt like Mr. Potter deserved it," he said with an eyeroll. "God. What a way to lose perspective. But I don't know how Albus could have expected otherwise."

"He should have lightened your load," Hermione affirmed.

"Yes," Severus replied, "and he didn't." He pushed away the remains of the steak-and-kidney pie, in favor of the second plate of pasta with red sauce.

Hermione was looking a little deeper than at Snape's change of food, however. Not wanting to depress him, she kept this thought to herself.

It looks like Dumbledore did a good job of breaking you, too, Severus Snape. And I don't think that was an accident, either.

"But all this is old news," he added, shaking away his own thoughts. "Let's go back to talking about this student."

Hermione shrugged and allowed herself to move out of this intense topic. "I like study groups," she said , "but what other ideas do you have? You said you had two."

"Yes," he responded, enthusiastically, pulling the plate back towards him. She wasn't sure if he was doing this unconsciously or consciously, but it seemed to be a clear indication of his mood. "The other one that comes to mind is to just make such a study group a requirement of your class. One component of this: the hated group project."

Hermione groaned. "No," she said , "I really genuinely hate them. They always result in the smart ones taking charge and the rest goofing off."

"I see you have some experience in this department," Snape said with a laugh that conveyed all too well his own familiarity with the phenomenon. "Well, that's fine. Just thought I would mention it."

"That's not fair," Hermione said, swatting him flirtatiously. "Give me another option. That one doesn't count."

"I suppose," he said, voraciously swallowing a mouthful of pasta, "that you could make this a non-graded study group. Requirements entail presenting once a week in class on a topic. Demand a routine set of objectives to be met. Just provide enough laxness in the assignment to foster some idleness, and hopefully some bonding."

"That's an idea," she said. But then something came to mind. "I think I have another potential solution."

"Tell me," he said, his eyes sharp.

"I don't know what you might think of this," she said, "but I think that, for those particularly gifted students, it would be a great thing to institute an honors seminar."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

It boggled her mind that he'd never heard of such a thing.

"It's a Muggle thing," she said, "a class for academically strong students to join together. Just not based on N.E.W.T.S. It's based on raw academic ability, which means it includes some students who are too bored to bother with doing well on their studies in normal classes."

He furrowed his brow. "So what do you envision?"

She took a few significant bites of pasta. "I envision," she said, grandly, "a space for students of every house. A space for those who, based on teacher assessment early in the first year, are identified as the brightest and the best, but who also are the most likely not to fit in with their peers. A space where these students can have a meeting of minds, so to speak, and learn that intelligence transcends house systems." She sighed. "I went to a private school and took honors classes from almost preschool onward. My parents were shocked that there was no gifted student track at Hogwarts, though I convinced them that it was worth sending me there because everyone at my school was as smart as I was."

She laughed, thinking back on it. "It was worth it, but just barely. They'd never have let me come here if they knew the truth."

"I'd like to ask more about that later," Snape replied warmly. "So what you're saying is: we group together different subjects, why not also group together different people based on aptitude, outside of these subjects."

"Yes," Hermione said, "from a lower level than fifth year. Because it seems a lot of the social benefits just don't happen when you have this kind of gifted class so late in the academic track."

"I do wonder if in the past, that was what the house system is intended to serve as," Severus said. "Truth be told, it always puzzled me why the founders thought it was a good idea to group people based on similar personality traits but not things like academic skills. It seems an unfortunate way of distributing talent in lieu of concentrating it and making that talent better. But, if the house system did function like a series of subject-specific houses," he realized, squinting at her as if to assess her reaction, "would that dismantle your theory regarding the dual personalities?"

Hermione smiled. This man was so smart and attractive. What was she doing just sitting with him here, talking to him?

"How about," she said with a smile, "we change the subject. I'm starting to lose focus." With a swoop of her hand, her fingers landed on the top of his overstuffed belly and went lower, lower, lower, until she felt the firm bulge of his cock beneath his trousers. Which trousers, incidentally, were unbuttoned (not surprising, given the quantity of food he had eaten this evening).

"Oh are you?" He asked with a bit of a grin. "Or are you just dodging the question?"

She just smiled in response.

"Well," he said, "I just want to finish my thought." He paused, seeming to wait for her permission.

"Go ahead," she said, retracting her hand, and she smiled at him.

He smiled back, benevolently. "Suffice it to say that, I think I would be excited to have an honors seminar. I think it would fill an unmet need at Hogwarts, and I think that it could be potentially very beneficial for students who are lacking friends and are otherwise spread out across houses."

"But let's not forget," Hermione said, "that this would ideally not involve more work for the poor dears, but merely access to a higher level of thinking than they're used to."

"This I like, quite a lot," he responded with utter delight. "But let's stop now," he said and gestured for her to come closer. "Now," he said with a low rumble, "may I ask you a highly unprofessional and ungentlemanly question, Miss Granger?"

"Certainly you may ask, but I might not answer," she responded with a smile. She knew there was little she wouldn't answer honestly at this point in their exciting new relationship - since really, the questions about poly that she still had notwithstanding, it was clear they were at least going to try out some form of relationship - but he seemed to play well against her occasional coquettish affectations.

"Why on earth," he said, leaning forward, "did you wear a corset to dinner?" He hesitantly advanced his hand to touch her abdomen, though he hovered over the fabric until she gently pushed his hand forward to meet the brocade.

"Seems a bit silly for coming to dinner in," he went on, "Like wearing a swimsuit to visit Finland in winter."

"Also it's a little strange for someone who likes her own fat so much," Hermione said with a laugh.

"Yes, that also," he said.

"It just makes me look sexy," she said, "moves my bulges from one place to another in interesting ways."

"As long as it's not a matter of trying to look thinner," he said, throatily, "I approve."

His fingers landed on the curve of steel boning that made her waist curve succulently, and Hermione felt her breath suddenly intake in pleasure.

"Yes," she whispered "touch me more there."

He turned his chair abruptly and began to grab her stomach fat on either side with both of his hands. While it was tightly compacted, he could still grab it under the cloth.

"Yes," she murmured at this touch, feeling nearly faint with desire.

Then, with an expert motion, he reached around her, lifted her from her chair into his lap, and drew her close. Given Hermione's own heavying build, it was evident that for an "unexercised" man, he was still fucking strong.

"Oh my," she whispered, and kissed him deeply.

 

Chapter Text

She was unable to maintain her composure after kissing him. Instead a burning heat consumed her, and she wrapped herself around him. She was fully seated on his lap, her ample rump hanging off precariously, her head gently on his soft shoulder, and one arm slyly encircling his fine wide waist from the front, the other sneaking around his back. She was delighted to find she was completely unable to meet her hands around him, even though it might have just been a result of the angle.

 

On his part, Snape held onto her in all the right places - his legs were spread wide to accommodate the way her limbs draped over him, one of his hands held on tightly to her arse, supporting her back with his arm, and his other hand rested on top of her growing belly.

 

“Steady now,” he said, though it was clear by the hoarseness of his voice that he was barely holding himself back as well. His hand fondled nice soft mound of her softening belly, which was barely held in place by her corset. “You wouldn’t want to rush into things, particularly since at the beginning of this evening, you weren’t sure where your opinions on polyamory sit.”

 

“I still don’t know what I think of it,” Hermione said, trying to sound as reasonable as she could manage - she needed him urgently, and she wasn’t prepared to wait any longer. “But I know I want this, right now. Isn’t ‘no strings attached’ a thing?”

 

“I...erm…” Snape’s breathing was heavy, and his thumbs caressed her gently where he held her. “It’s generally not my type of thing, that’s all.”

 

“Okay,” Hermione said, willing to concede somewhat in order to get what she wanted, “How about we call this an empirical test to see if, at least in certain components, we’re well-suited for a long-term match?”

 

“You just want to get laid,” he replied, coldly, but the frostiness was counteracted by his holding her closer, tighter. The hand that was on her stomach moved, and grabbed onto her supportively, staking delight in squeezing the fold of her fat.

 

“And that’s okay, isn’t it?” Hermione said, whereupon he just grunted in response, putting his nose in her neck to smell in her scent. “Moreover - I’m pretty choosy about who I want to lay with.”

 

“How long has it been, for you?” Snape asked, not giving her a straight answer, but he began nibbling her ear.

 

“Almost a year,” she said, her hormones racing. “Ron and I weren’t doing so great for quite a while, and until we figured out that he was just plain-”

 

“-Stop talking about Weasley,” he said sharply, hungrily, and he dove in to kiss her lower jaw.

 

Hermione moaned with pleasure despite herself. His lips were soft, his cheeks were cleanshaven and smooth, and the way he sucked - oh! - the way he sucked gave small credibility to Ron’s vampire theory.

 

“Why,” Hermione said, toying with him. “You don’t want to be reminded that someone else has been here before?”

 

“Not my issue,” he purred, licking the base of her neck with a teasing, serpentlike strategy. “I merely want your mind to belong exclusively to me when I thrust myself into you.”

 

She felt faint and watery with desire.

 

“How will you be sure,” she said, gasping, “that you’ve completely bewitched my mind and ensared my senses?”

 

He bit back a laugh, but it was hard; his entire body shook silently as he sat there, and Hermione was pleased to see the way it moved as he convulsed, jiggling. She moved with his body, being draped over his lap and pressed against his shoulder as she was.

 

Finally he took a deep breath, and said, breathily, “I’m fairly confident in my abilities to fascinate. I’m just not sure that you know what you’re signing up for.”

 

“What am I signing up for?” she breathed, letting her hand sweep down to touch his plushy buttocks.

 

“I can’t tell you that,” he responded, “I can only show you.”

 

Whereupon he grabbed her and stood up, carefully, balancing her in his arms, and though she was clearly too heavy for him to carry comfortably, he held her close, and, with an awkward gait, carried her to the bedroom.

 

The door was shut, but a movement of his wrist changed that, and soon he dropped her into a fluffy duvet of clean, cozy white linen.

 

“Disrobe, or be disrobed,” he growled, dragging her to the center of the bed.

 

She tried to sit up, but the combination of her too-full belly and her tight corset made this impossible.

 

“Can’t,” she whispered deliriously, “you’ll have to help.”

 

“What,” he said, and she felt the bed dip as he climbed on, and soon she felt his heavy bottom against her legs, and the fullness of his excited cock (concealed though it remained in his trousers) near her pelvis as he straddled her. “Did you eat so much you can’t move?”

 

It wasn’t precisely true, but Hermione was so excited at the prospect that she didn’t bother clarifying. “Yes,” she whimpered. “Have I been bad?”

 

“Well, bad is such a relative term,” he said, stroking her belly area fondly. He remained sitting up, crouched over her.  “From some standpoints, you might be bad. But others, you might be good. Either way, you’ve eaten a ton of food tonight. But not nearly as much as you could have, my sweet.”

 

He leaned forward and kissed her neck, up and down, slowly, and it was tantalizing.

 

“I think you’ve only been bad in one way,” he said, his fingers loosening her high-collar buttons. “And I think the only bad thing you’ve done is wear that sexy corset. Now granted, it is sexy, but I have to ask - are you trying to hide the evidence of your gluttony from me, my sweet?”

 

“...Maybe,” she said, taking it seriously, but then realizing that this was a kind of play, she whimpered, “Oh, erm, yes! Yes! I admit it. I’ve been trying to keep it a secret. I’m so ashamed. I’ve been getting so fat and round. I didn’t want you to see me like this.”

 

“How silly,” he said, and he continued to slowly unbutton her garment. He was nearing the bodice area, but he seemed to tire of the position and rolled out of a crouching position onto his side, where he took a few deep stabilizing breaths. She rolled so that they were looking at each other, smelling each others’ breath and nearly touching bellies.

 

“How silly,” he said again, and his hand moved to touch where the soft part of her belly squeezed out of the corset, which (she could tell, even under her dress) was starting to ride up with her movements. (It wasn’t exactly a high-quality corset.) “It’s still clear that you’re getting fatter. This restrictive thing just displaces your growing rolls to different places.”

 

He touched his fingers to undo the buttons of her dress that started from the waist, and with every one, the fabric sprang back to neutral position, revealing how much it strained to cover her. Her creamy skin - where the corset didn’t hold it back - became more and more visible with every inch, the fabric relieved of its difficult duty of covering her round torso and plumpening breasts.

 

“Yes,” he said hungrily, sitting up and surveying her in as predatorial a manner as she could imagine, “I like a girl with curves and a belly. You’re a bigger girl than most,” he said approvingly, “but not as quite as big as you could be. And clearly you want to be bigger - the way you eat, it’s apparent you’re in heaven. And here in the nice, comfortable environment of the castle, you’re swelling up to previously unknown proportions.”

 

“I just can’t stop,” Hermione moaned, her cunt fully wet at this point, “I just can’t stop eating.”

 

“It’s atthe point where I don’t know if you’re going to stop,” Snape said with a teasing lilt in his voice. “You just enjoy your food so much,” he went on, “and you don’t get any exercise at all. I wonder, if you keep up your current habits, will you eventually be so fat you can’t rise from your bed?”

 

“Perhaps,” she said, with a hoarse whisper. “How fat and lovely I would be.”

 

“Indeed,” he said, and he moved gingerly until his head was nearly at the base of her panties. She felt his breath on her cunt. Her undies were too small, and there was a nice gap of creamy, furry skin that appeared at the place where her thighs met her pubic area. She suddenly felt his tongue lick her there, on that gap of skin, in the corner of the place where her thigh fat encountered her pubic fat to form a corner of skin, and she moaned, unable to contain herself.

 

But he was just teasing her, and he too soon left that area, to rest his head face-first on that lovely growing stomach of hers.

 

“I’ve been watching,” he said, hoarsely, “the way your belly swelled with all that deliciousness sinking into it this past month. I couldn’t believe how fat you were getting, and so quickly. How much do you weigh, and how much have you gained the past month?”

 

“A mere stone,” she said with delight, “I’ve merely gained a stone.” `




“For a total of…?” he prompted.

 

She giggled headily, drunk on the attention. “You’re the potions master; you tell me.”

 

He looked at her quizzically. “Can’t guess unless I see you in your full splendor,” he said after a studied moment, “May I?”

 

“Please, just do it,” she said, wiggling her legs from her toes to her thighs, setting them jiggling in a most evocative manner.

 

He grinned and set about it. It was a trifle difficult to undo the front-latching buttons of her corset, but after a few tries he effectively began to get a handle on it, and snap, snap, snap, snap, they started to come undone.

 

Oh, the relief. Her belly had lines up and down it from where the boning had put pressure on her skin, and the fabric wrinkles had left their mark as well.

 

“Oh,” Snape said, breathing in the sight of her creamy, glorious tummy, and he immediately pressed his lips upon it. His hands began to roam across her wide belly, and he groaned with desire as he squished her fat, kneading it with both hands.

 

“You like it?” Hermione whimpered, enjoying the sensitive touch of his hands, which she was surprised to discover were smooth and soft, not rough at all like her father’s over-washed hands. And yet the muscles in his fingers were strong, and Hermione knew with every touch that she was ready to come over and over again.

 

“Oh yes,” he breathed, clearly swept away. He also added, “You’re not a pound under thirteen stone.”

 

“Oh, stop,” she said with a laugh. “I’m just shy of twelve.”

 

He looked at her inquiringly, and she said, “The thing is, some people have some muscle underneath their flab, and that adds extra weight. Given that the only time I get any exercise is when I’m late to dinner,” she said with a giggle, “I have none. So this -” she slapped her belly affectionately, making it wiggle, “is all, entirely, buttery fat.”

 

“Merlin,” he said with a gasp, “You look this great at less than twelve stone. Full or empty?” he asked, for clarification.

 

“Empty,” she responded, “I check right when I wake up in the morning.”

 

“Merlin,” he said, stroking her belly like an artist admiring a model, “I can’t imagine what you’ll look like in the -hopefully- many years ahead of us.” He relaxed his head on her stomach and took an almost non-sexual pose, laying on his belly and pressing his face into her flab with an air of utter adoration.

 

Hermione relaxed into the feeling, closing her eyes and wondering why on earth he must tease her so. She wanted to have him fucking her. Her mind wandered to the crude non-electric dildo she’d brought back to Hogwarts with her, and she realized that with the lift of the electronics wards ban at Hogwarts, she could finally - finally - have the pleasure of her favorite electronic toys again.

 

That aroused her even more, and so she poked Snape in his soft shoulder.

 

“So, are we fucking, or not?” she whined.

 

He gave an uproarious laugh and cried, “Patience! Thy name is not Hermione Granger,” and began to strip off his own pants.

 

She was pleased to see that they were a bit of a chore to get off.

 

“My arse is getting fat,” he said as he finally succeeded in his attempts, “I’ll need another expansion spell to get these on again.”

 

“Tell me more,” she whimpered, sitting up.

 

His face seized up in initial confusion, then relaxed into excitement. “Sorry,” he said with a gasp, “not used to it.”

 

“You seemed to be doing fine with me,” she said with a grin, but she sensed there was something more difficult for him about his own body.

 

“Yeah,” he replied, and took a deep breath, then, with an involuntary whimper, he closed his eyes and seated himself on the bed. Hermione was pleased to see he went commando, at least tonight. His member wasn’t the longest she’d ever seen - that had belonged inexorably to Viktor Krum - but oh, it was nice and thick, which was what her petite frame preferred anyway. (Krum, when he’d fucked her, had left her bleeding the next day.) It looked to be in a mid-level of excitement, and it was bobbing down as Snape tried to concentrate.

 

“I...erm,” he said, and took another breath, “I’m…”

 

He opened his eyes and glanced at Hermione, who was taking him in shyly. She was aware of her belly curving and folding upon itself in a luxurious fashion, and she was nude aside from her too-small panties. Sitting there, propping herself up on her hands, smiling at him, her hair completely a mess, she felt like a movie star in a glamor magazine.

 

He seemed to think she looked good as well. “I like that little… squished part,” he said, touching the place her abdominal fat made little rippling rolls.

 

“Take off your shirt,” she responded, “I’ll not be distracted by flattery.”

 

He looked intently at her, not sure if she’d run screaming like Christine Daae from the Phantom of the Opera, but finally he decided to give her a chance.

 

“Fine,” he said, and began to tediously, tremblingly, unbutton his straining waistcoat.

 

Hermione quickly decided this was taking too long, so she started assisting him from the bottommost curve of his belly, inching her way up until their hands met on the final button, which Snape decisively finishing with a flourish.

 

The waistcoat was relieved to retreat from its post, and its leaves hung flaccidly on either side of Snape’s enormous belly. Snape took over in undoing his shirt buttons, of which there were considerably less than he had on his waistcoat, and soon he was sitting there in front of her, slumping slightly, his tummy so broad and heavy, and it was covered with stretchmarks. His gain had been very rapid indeed, it looked to Hermione. She touched them with the softest part of her fingers.

 

“Do they hurt?” she asked.

 

“Oh, goodness no,” he said, but he looked pained in a different kind of way.

 

She withdrew her fingers and asked, “Do you like me noticing them?”

 

“I mean,” he said, and she could tell he was hyperventilating slightly, “I haven’t had anyone see me with my shirt off for years at this point.”

 

“Even Erika?” Hermione asked, surprised.

 

He nodded, looking as if he wanted the world to swallow him.

 

“Your choice, or hers?” she asked, trying hard not to sound like she was pressuring him.

 

“Mine,” he answered, and shook his head firmly, as if trying to get rid of wrackspurts.

 

“Let me clarify,” he said, focusing on his breathing, “I have my reasons why Erika hasn’t seen me shirtless in the light for a few years. I just don’t want to talk about them right now. But suffice it to say - I am deciding very specifically to reveal my body, fat and scarred as it is, to you. I realize it is much more of a turn-on when clothed.

 

“But,” he said, his eyes trained on a wrinkle of the bed some distance away from Hermione, “I don’t want to enter a relationship with you with any false illusions about what I look like. Fat is an aesthetic you indicate that you appreciate. I’m just not sure that this is an element of this aesthetic that you like. I’m not like you, with creamy, unmarred skin. My weight gain,” he said, appearing mortified, and almost as if he was regretting having taken off his shirt in the first place, “was sudden, unintentional, and unregulated. And it continues to be.

 

“I don’t know that these scars will go away, at least not quickly. And chances are, there will be more in the future. I’m sorry,” he said, sounding deeply unhappy, “I was afraid of mentioning this to you, because I was enjoying things too much. That was an error.”

 

“Oh, please,” she said, sitting up and caressing his downcast face. “Do you really think I’d choose not to date you because of fucking stretch marks, which every woman spends so much angst about post-pregnancy that there’s loads of creams and such in both the wizarding and muggle worlds?”

 

She smiled, but said firmly, as he looked up at her in awe, “Snap out of it. You’re sexually very appealing to me, stretch marks or none. I’m curious about this element of your history, but we can talk about it when you’re ready. But until then,” she said, laying back down on the bed, “just enjoy fucking me. Please.”

 

She threw back her hair and spread her legs. “Seriously. I thought you were experienced, with your polyamory and your kinkiness. Can’t you see my cunt is so tight, I can scarcely breathe?”

 

This definitely piqued his interest, and he sat a little straighter and, wordlessly, moved over to sit within arm’s reach of her nether regions.

 

“Looking at your fat gut,” she whispered viciously, “I want to straddle it and ride it until I come all over it. I love the thickness of your cock, the nice flap of flab at your pubes. It might be able to fill me up better than anyone else ever has. My vagina is just as greedy as my mouth, I guess,” she said teasingly, “and just as hungry as my belly. I crave you, Snape, and the way you look right this moment makes me want to come several times over. All over you. Stretch marks included.”

 

He seemed to take spirit at this speech, and he grabbed his member and began stroking it.

 

“Way to take ‘stroking your ego’ literally, huh,” said Hermione, and he laughed with her.

 

“Please,” he whimpered, “keep at it.”

 

“Yeah,” Hermione said, her fingers moving towards her clit, but as she did she felt Snape’s fingers get there faster, and he was flicking her and stimulating her with the same breaths as he was stimulating himself. Instead, she started grabbing at her fat stomach, caressing and slapping it alternately.

 

“You want me to get so fat, I won’t be able to move,” she whispered, and his face got a touch redder in response. “Once I’m too fat to run off, you’ll be happy to let me try fucking other dudes sometimes, but you want to know that yours will be the only one that satisfies me. So you’ll keep me here, immobilized by my own greed and sloth, and you’ll watch as men try to satisfy me, one at a time, and while they are overcome by my beauty and girth, none of them will impress or satiate me. Then once I am so frustrated, you will come in, with your nice, fat belly and thick, thick cock, and you will fuck me and feed me, and feed me and fuck me, and only then will I be able to come.”

 

Her eyes never left him, and his eyes never left her, and finally at this point he stuffed himself into her aching pussy and thrust, over and over, so forcefully and passionately. She came the moment he entered her, and kept coming, over and over, and he lasted a very few strokes before he finished inside her.

 

He pulled out and lay back, exhausted on the bed, but Hermione wasn’t done; she moaned for more relief, and after a moment he had the idea to accio a candle that had been burning, shape it with a gentle transfiguration spell, and harden it slightly, then with her assent he stuck it in her, and the warm mutable wax brought her to climax a few more times before, with a sigh of relief, she tapped him on the arm, and he stopped, breathlessly.

 

They lay there in the slightly darker room, breathing heavily together, and Snape murmured, “Well, I don’t know what I expected, but I think you just blew my bloody mind.”

 

“Agreed,” Hermione said, sinking into the pillows with a sigh. “Here’s to more where that came from. But not tonight.”

 

“Not tonight,” agreed Snape, then he laughed. “You know, I had planned for us to have dessert, but I don’t feel a need for it this moment.”

 

Hermione sat straight up in bed, immediately invigorated. “You don’t?”

 

This response made Snape chuckle, and he pulled at her to lay down again. “All right, now you’ve alerted me to the possibility that I *might* have enough energy to at least watch you eat.”

 

“Dessert is the best part of every meal,” she said without a trace of irony, and laughing more, he clapped his hands.


“I guess we can have dessert in bed.”

Chapter Text

They snuggled under the duvet together, Hermione clinging closely to him, Snape gently stroking her.

 

“I like the way you feel,” she whispered, nestling her face between his heavy masculine breasts, which shook as he shivered with the pleasure of feeling her breath on his sternum.

 

“I like the way you feel me,” he responded, letting a hand cup her succulent bottom. She felt every bit as squishy and soft as she looked, like smooth clean fondant on a marshmallow cake.

 

They relaxed there for a time, then Lowly arrived, bringing a large side-table with her, decked with a lace tablecloth and a fetching arrangement of fresh-picked red ivy, a scraggly few bits of heather, water mint, and Rose of Sharon berries. Lowly left as swiftly as she’d come, presumably to get the food.

 

“It’s late in the season for heather,” Hermione said, smiling brightly at the pale white flowers, and looked at Snape. “Is this your doing?”

 

He ducked his head, as if to conceal a smile. “I have a few spots I know to look.”

 

“You’re too precious,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. “I demand at some point you show me. I wouldn’t know where to look.”

 

He seemed confused for a moment, then realized that, by default, she’d rarely, if ever, left Hogwarts’ grounds to go into the wilderness of the moors around it before. “Oh,” he said, “Yes, certainly. Any time. On days I go, I usually leave after lunch and return by dinner. Why bother going into town to get rowan berries, yarrow, burdock, asphodel, and such when I can very easily go out and collect it myself? Especially when Hogsmeade shopkeepers charge such outrageous prices?”

 

“I’m game,” she said, rolling over onto her belly and looking at him with a flirtatious peek from over her arm. “But for the moment, I’m hungry.”

 

“I fully intend to feed you into a state of satiation so complete that you will have no desire whatsoever to go to your classes tomorrow,” he said with a subtle grin.

 

She flipped around again and poked him in the belly, gently. It sloshed and wiggled with the heaviness of being full.

 

“Are you at that place yet?” she demanded, astutely assessing him.

 

“Not exactly,” he said with a yawn that, inconveniently, was also a burp, and he barely got his hand to cover his mouth in time.

 

“Clearly not,” Hermione said, sitting up, “it sounds like you’ve still got some room in there.” She patted his belly fondly, and it thumped with a satisfying hollowness.

 

Looking down, she noticed that her own podgy belly was decidedly growing larger. The painful-looking marks from her corset were no longer visible, and the way it so completely obstructed her view of her pubes was new.

 

She pressed down on the top of her belly, squeezing it until it folded down upon the nice squishy upper pelvic area, though she couldn’t cover it. Also, her newly-stretching belly came right back up again when she let go.

 

“It’s really taut,” she mused, then gestured for Snape to get up and play with it too.

 

Intrigued, Snape sat up laboriously, his hand and forearm lifting his own massive belly. He’d long gone past the point where his belly could comfortably rest on his pubic area and completely cover it.

 

He indulged her and pressed down on her belly, which, while it landed nicely on either of her thickening thighs, it was indeed too full or simply too small to go down very far.

 

“I can’t wait until it’s so big that it covers up my whole clit area,” Hermione said with unrepenting frankness. “The sense of being so fat that I can’t sit cross-legged without stimulating myself when I laugh - that’s so sexy.”

 

He thought about it, and sat at the edge of the bed, letting his own enormous mound of fat droop over his penis and squish it between his thighs. “I never thought about the repercussions for the feminine form,” he said with a low, sexy drawl. “I just know I enjoy the way it feels on my cock. In certain positions,” he added with a wink, “It’s almost as good as fucking.”

 

Hermione’s hand snuck over and dug its way under his belly to rescue said cock, and she began to stimulate it, periodically rubbing his balls as well.

 

“You’re so sexy,” she whispered.

 

“You’re so sexy,” he repeated, and they gazed into each others’ eyes, challenging each other to refute the other, until finally they both looked up to see the table neatly laid with a jaw-dropping amount of food.

 

They both looked at the amount of food, looked back at each other, and simultaneously declared their intentions.

 

“I can’t eat all that,” Snape said, in the same instant that Hermione said, “Oh, you’re going to eat all of that.”

 

“Okay,” Snape said with an eyeroll. “If this was a different point of my life, I’d happily overindulge and throw up in the bathroom, and come back for more, but I’m not interested in revisiting those days of binging and purging.”

 

“Fine,” Hermione said, noticing the comment but filing it away for later, “I’ll make you eat so much that you’re ready to toss it, but we’ll stop there. I’ll eat as much as I can to help you, and when you’ve stuffed yourself silly, I’ll give you all the belly rubs, and you’ll make delightful sexy noises, and when you genuinely need me to stop, you can say ‘Dolores Umbridge’ and we’ll stop. But until you say her name, I won’t stop, even if you tell me to.”

 

He couldn’t help but laugh at her choice of code word. “Fine,” he agreed, “let me get comfortable.”

 

He barricaded himself against the headboard with pillows on either side of him, his legs spread wide, his belly proudly presiding over the matter with understated glory.

 

“Ready?” Hermione said, sitting on her knees, looking at all the delicacies laid out before them.

 

“One moment,” he said, and waved wandlessly at an old phonograph. An ancient record of Edith Piaf started playing, artistically scratchy.

 

Non, rien de rien. Non, je ne regrette rien…

 

“How fitting,” Hermione said with a snort.

 

“Don’t laugh,” he said very sternly.

 

Her eyes were alight, perceptive. “This chanson means a lot to you, doesn’t it?” she asked, searching his face. “‘No, I regret nothing.’ Is that how you actually feel, or what you wish you felt?”

 

“Shut. Up.” he growled, then, in a flash of recollection, he said, “Umbridge.” And he waved his hand angrily at the player, whereupon it shifted to the next song, the classic La vie en rose.

 

“Erm, sorry.” Hermione looked sufficiently chastened, and she leaned over, her belly shifting into an exaggerated angle as she reached out to grasp his hands. “Are we okay?”

 

He gave her a grumpy face - was it exaggerated slightly? - but shrugged, and took her hand. “Feed me,” he said, a growl in his voice, a hand curling sensuously under the curve of his belly, “and we’ll see.”

 

Hermione looked at him closely for a moment, before stretching up to land a shy kiss on his cheek.

 

“We’ll get there by leaps and bounds,” she said empathically, “and many, many pounds.”

 

His cock visibly twitched with the second part of her sentence, and she decided enough was enough, so she grabbed the plate of croissants and sat, cross-legged, in front of him.

 

“Almond, chocolate, or plain?” she asked straightforwardly, and he looked at them with a raised eyebrow.

 

“We are, of course, talking about the order,” he said, “not an exclusive choice.”

 

“Of course not,” said Hermione frivolously, “just as you prefer many tastes in women, it only stands to reason that you’d feel the same about pastries.”

 

“Croissants are in a class separate from all other delicacies, though,” Snape said, “now stop chatting and feed me.”

 

She looked at the choices in front of her, and decided of the dozen croissants she’d stuff a plain one in his mouth first, though prior to entry she had a few other tricks up her sleeve.

 

“You want to be fed, do you?” she said, and she began circling him on the bed. He nodded in response. “Oh,” she said, with a deeply orgasmic sigh, “oh.”

 

His cock was definitely paying attention, and Hermione was also experiencing a lady-boner.

 

“You’ll just eat whatever I put in front of you, won’t you,” Hermione said, leaning in and breathing in the crook of his neck. “You just can’t control yourself. You’ve trained yourself to eat on the sight of food. You feel hungry just seeing it. Yes,” she whispered, “it’s taking all you can muster to keep from grabbing it and shoving it in your face.”

 

He nodded, his hair bobbing, his jowls wobbling, and on the springy bed his belly bounced slightly.

 

“Well,” Hermione said, “I’ll feed you, you pig - but in my own time, not yours.”

 

Snape moaned, and one hand went to touch his cock, the other went to grab a croissant.

 

She slapped him on the hand, hard.

 

“No,” she said, “you’re too fat. These fine foods should be kept under lock and key to keep them away from your growing belly. Your overindulgence is catching up to you, my dear Snape,” she said, patting him on his stomach.

 

He was red in the face, and trying to keep her from seeing that he was stimulating himself with his hand, but she caught him, and murmured, “Your hands seem to be betraying you. You get off on this, don’t you? Being so fat that I need to put you on a diet? Do you like this?” she said, trying to be as stern as she could.

 

It seemed to be effective; he gulped and appeared completely flustered, though completely turned on.

 

It seemed he had a bit of a masochistic streak, Hermione observed. Well, well. She’d certainly use this to her advantage.

 

“You like this,” she said, removing his hand from his cock, and grabbing his other hand, and holding them both together. “You like the idea of getting fatter. You get so turned on by the idea of eating yourself so fat you can’t move, you can’t resist touching yourself and stuffing your face. Well,” she said, “if that’s what you like, that’s what you’re going to get. But on my terms!” she spat, and she held his hands tightly together and dove down to grab her underwear from the floor. She reemerged and put his hands in the leg-slots, and tied the makeshift restraint tightly, so that his hands were behind his back.

 

“Now,” she said, stroking his tummy, which was quivering as he breathed irregularly with the pain of being immensely aroused, “now you will eat. You fat, fat, pig.”

 

He closed his eyes and leaned back into the headboard, mouth open as he breathed hard, and his stomach moved with him, revealing his dick’s alert and distended state.

 

“Here,” Hermione said casually, and she stuffed the corner of a croissant into his mouth. He bit it off hungrily, and chewed swiftly. “That’s right,” she said, taking away the croissant as soon as he was ready for the next bite, “tell me you’re a fat pig who gets off on the idea of getting fatter.”

 

“I…” he said, with a sharp intake of breath, “I’m a fat pig who gets off on the idea of getting fatter.”

 

“That’s right,” she said, putting the next corner of croissant in his mouth. “Eat, eat, and eventually you’ll be so nice and fat that I’ll be able to take you to market and show you as my prize pig.”

 

“Oh gods,” he murmured, “touch me, please.”

 

“Oh, you like that?” she said, and she began stroking him, shoving the remainder of the croissant in his mouth. As soon as he stopped chewing and swallowed, however, she stopped stroking him.

 

“Mmm,” he whimpered, almost as if in pain, “more.”

 

“Yes,” Hermione responded, giving him another bite of croissant. She decided that tearing up the croissants in three chunks would be the most efficient way of getting them inside the body of her lover, so that’s what she did.

 

He licked her fingers so sensuously when he took the next bite from her fingers, she almost came right there.

 

She stroked him as he took bites and chewed, but stopped as soon as he swallowed, so that incentivized him to take bite after bite without stopping.

 

“More,” he pleaded any time she had trouble, “please don’t stop.”

 

She did indeed keep stuffing more and more pastry into him, until the dozen croissants were gone, and she grabbed a tureen of rice pudding.

 

“More carbs,” she said, “low fat. Eat, eat, eat. This will settle heavily in your tummy and bloat it. Be prepared. Do you want to feel fat and bloated?”

 

“Yes,” he moaned, and he obediently sucked down spoonful after spoonful, until there was nothing left but the tureen.

 

At this point, the food was beginning to really make its mark on his tummy, and it was so taut and round that Hermione had to stop rubbing Snape’s cock with both hands in order to feel like she was doing justice to the massive amount of food Snape was putting away.

 

But she couldn’t put both hands on stomach duty, because the second she tried, Snape growled fiercely and said, “No!” very definitively, so she let one hand do one activity, and the other do another.

 

“Now,” she said, “now that you have finished your rice pudding, I will lick the tureen. And you don’t get any.”

 

He watched in near-horror as she did exactly this, licking the spoon sensuously, letting the spoon represent a phallic symbol in her hands.

 

Snape moaned in agony, and pseudo-struggled to get his hands free, but to no avail. He was thoroughly stuck in his bondings.

 

“You’re too fat to get out of those,” Hermione said with a grin, digging her fingers in the tureen, scraping off the last grains of rice, and licking them one by one, seductively. “You won’t get any more food until I say so.”

 

“Please,” he begged, “feed me more.”

 

“You’re still hungry?” she said with a laugh, patting his enormous belly. “I would have thought you were stuffed like a Christmas goose by now. No matter,” she said, “try some Turkish delights, while they’re here.”

 

There were at least three dozen of the little gooey treats. She popped them into his mouth, one by one, an entire dish of them. They went down easily, and he almost didn’t need to chew them. She could have almost poured them down his throat.

 

Once there were no more, he opened his eyes and burped, with a glazed look starting to enter his eyes.

 

She’d never seen this look before in him - a nirvana of being perfectly and utterly transfixed on the feeling of being stuffed. He looked so beautiful, huffing and struggling to take deep breaths, leaning back on the headboard, his belly struggling to stay together in front of him, his fat jiggly thighs rising and falling with his breathing.

 

She wasn’t done yet, though.

 

“Are you ready for the finale?” she said, as she picked up an enormous chocolate cake decorated with chocolate-dipped strawberries, the final major course on the table. “Because I think you’re going to have to finish every last bite of this before I let you go to sleep.”

 

“No,” Snape groaned, leaning back and wiggling his fat arse as he tried to get more comfortable. “I’m so stuffed. I really can’t.”

 

“Let me help you make some room,” she said, and she readjusted his pillows so he could lean back farther. “Yes, that’s it. Now one moment,” she said, and her head disappeared underneath his thick fat tummy as she began to torture him with her tongue.

 

“Oh god,” he said, and came almost immediately on contact, which made Hermione’s job simpler, even if it did make her hair messier.

 

“I’m sorry,” he murmured when she reemerged, and she laughed it off.

 

“No apologies,” she said, and she wiped the cum off her chin with the back of her hand. “Shall we start on this cake, then?”

 

“Umbridge,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m stuffed to the absolute brim.”

 

“How about just a few bites more?” Hermione said, “then I’ll stuff myself with the rest?”

 

He considered this, looking at the cake with longing. “All right,” he responded. “Even though I’ve eaten enough for nearly the entire castle in one sitting, I’m game for a few bites more.”

 

“Good,” said Hermione, standing up and taking a silver fork from the table, while also grabbing a napkin to get the rest of the cum out of her hair.

 

She coaxed him to take a bite of the succulent cake by kissing it, then meeting his eyes with a sad pout. With the sense of a lover making up for lost time, he ravaged a good third of the cake by the time he lay back, shaking his head, muttering, “Umbridge, Umbridge.”

 

“You did a good job,” she said, relaxing back next to him, untying his hands, and she dove into the rest of the cake.

 

She had the feeling that this wasn’t as much fun as being fed the rich chocolate molten cake, but the way he watched her, captivated, but so stuffed he could barely speak, well, that was also fun.

 

It surprised her how much she could actually eat when she was working at it. Halfway through her chore, she had to readjust herself, and she rested the plate on her curving belly in such a way that it was easier to lift a fork to her mouth.

 

“Yes,” she said, as Snape watched her, his tongue barely emerging from his full lips, “I’m getting fat and lazy, too.”

 

He groaned in an affirming way, nodding ever so slightly, and she kept at it until she’d finished - after many deep breaths, and a couple of forced burps - the entire rest of the massive cake.

 

“I’m feeling it,” she said, and she lay down flat on the bed, wiggling herself down inch by inch until she was horizontal. “Oh god, that feels so good.”

 

“Mhm,” Snape said, and with a much more painful, slow process, he joined her in being flat on the bed. “Oh god,” he said as he finally lay back, “This relationship - if this is what we’re doing - is not going to leave me off a thinner man.”

 

“Not if I can help it,” Hermione said, and she scooted over as close to him as she could get, and ran her fingers through his long hair.

 

“I’m kaput,” he announced breathlessly, clearly not able to open his eyes, but his hand wormed its way to rest on Hermione’s stuffed belly, where he stroked it with careful fingers.

 

“Me also,” she whispered. “Tonight was fucking wonderful.”

 

“You staying here?” he asked, “or going back to your space?”

 

“Which would you prefer?” Hermione asked gently.

 

“Erm.” He didn’t seem comfortable telling her to get out, but that seemed to be the sum of things.

 

“Don’t worry your pretty head about it,” Hermione said, easing herself up. “I like my privacy too. I’m going to bid you goodnight then.”

 

“Erm.” He opened his eyes and gestured for her to lean back down again.

 

“What?” She obliged, though slowly.

 

“I enjoyed myself,” he whispered hoarsely. “May not seem like it, but I did.”

 

“It certainly looks like you enjoyed yourself,” said Hermione, gently stroking his belly, so distended and round that his skin seemed as thin as latex. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

 

“Okay,” he whimpered in response.

 

She laid a kiss on his lips.

 

“Before I leave,” she added, as she stood and half-heartedly began to dress herself in her underwear and such, “I… we talked about a lot of things tonight.”

 

He opened his eyes wide, and she thought she sensed fear in them. But he did not speak.

 

“We talked about a lot of really… personal, intense things,” she said, “and I don’t want you to feel like… beholden to me or anything. I know that sometimes,” she went on, “telling someone a bunch of intense stuff can be something you regret the next day, and I don’t want you to feel badly if you do. Just…” she sighed, “if you need some space, don’t be fucking mysterious about it, all right?”

 

He didn’t respond, and she went on, tremblingly, “...truth be told, I think we perhaps pushed too hard to get to know each other tonight. And while I’m fine and I don’t regret it, I am afraid that, in  the morning, you will. So if that’s the case, just tell me, and we can work it out. But here’s what I don’t like,” she went on, trying to pull her dress up over her belly and failing miserably, “I don’t like when I have a conversation with a person that really goes deep, and then I never hear from them again. That’s happened to me with…”

 

She sighed.

 

“A lot of people. And I don’t want it to happen with you. Okay?”

 

He looked at her sadly, but he seemed to be acknowledging the truth in what she was saying, sleepy and overfed as he was. “Okay.”  

 

“And,” Hermione said with a huff, removing her dress, “I think I’m going to borrow a dressing gown from you, because I’m not fucking putting on that corset again, and without the corset this dress will not go on. So where can I find it?”

 

She walked to the closet, and opened it, and Snape nodded as she grabbed the first silky thing that was hanging on the back of the door.

 

“Nice,” she said, slipping it over her shoulders. It was satin, green and black paisley, and a little dusty.

 

“Keep it,” he murmured, and smiled painfully. “Too small.”

 

“It’ll be too small for me as well, soon enough,” she said with a giddy laugh. She wrapped it around herself, and tied it well, and gathered up her clothes.

 

“Good night,” she whispered, and kissed him on the top of the nose. Then she pulled the sheets over him, and pinched out the remaining lights that were on. “I enjoyed myself. See you tomorrow.”

 

“Night,” he muttered back to the dark room.

 

Hermione left his chambers to the sounds of Edith Piaf’s accordions and orchestra floating off in the distance, a dopey romantic smile on her face despite herself.

 

Chapter Text

 

////////////////

 

The next morning brought Hermione to reluctantly - grumpily - face the sunlight. Crookshanks stalked from the end of her bed and meowed his high-density smelly breath in her face, and she pushed his cheek away from her nose and groaned.

 

“Fine,” she said begrudgingly, and slipped out of bed. Of course she’d woken up ten minutes before the alarm rang - just enough time for her to go back to sleep and luxuriate in the spare time if she wasn’t dealing with an irritable kneazle.

 

She poured herself some cool chocolate milk from the icebox, filled Crookshanks’ bowl, and patted his butt as he set to it hungrily. She’d been a little generous with him, and his belly was full and round, and he was always ravenous.

 

She sat down to sip at her milk, and found a swan on her table, curled into a delicate rose that unfurled when she picked it up.

 

You're right, was all it said, to start, I need space today. But tomorrow? Meet at great hall for lunch then go out on moors?

 

"Yes," she said, and the swan flapped its wings and disappeared under the door. She was a little crestfallen that she wouldn't see him today, but as she thought about it, she realized it was a good thing. She needed some time without distractions for serious grading that she had put off all week. As well as thinking about what on earth she wanted to do with this captivating man who wanted her to be his best girl.

 

She took her breakfast meal in her room, eating light because she did feel a little overfull from yesterday, and grabbed her things and trudged down to the classroom, where she graded furiously until the bell rang.



She took her breakfast meal in her room, eating light because she did feel a little overfull from yesterday, and grabbed her things and trudged down to the classroom, where she graded furiously until the bell rang, and she began teaching her classes for the day.

 

She could only relax once she'd gone forward and back a few times with the timeturner and completed her full 'day' of teaching (which of course was considerably longer than a day because of zipping around back and forth through time).

 

It felt, at this point, like it’d been forever since she’d seen Snape, and she almost felt like she was a single woman. She’d never felt this detached from someone when she was starting a relationship with them. With Ron and Viktor, she’d been all over them every second they were in private, and she devoted every waking moment she could to being with them.

 

But for some reason, this relationship with Snape was already very different in how it felt. She did actually feel lonely. She’d never felt lonely in a relationship before.

 

But then again, perhaps it was the weather, which was slipping from warm September sunniness to the cooler days of October.

 

The evening was heavy in the atmosphere, making her feel gloomy, and she decided to nip out to the gardens for a breath of fresh air. The days were only going to get shorter, she reasoned, and the nights were only going to get longer, and she really needed to savor whatever warmth she could find before the castle was plagued by the drafts and freezes of winter.

 

The gardens were lovely by moonlight. It was a waning moon, precisely fitting her mood. She felt the pain of things slipping away, finally, after many years of internal torture.

 

She was so glad he was alive, first and foremost. And she was so glad that he seemed to be happy.

 

It wasn't something she was likely to admit to anyone, much less Snape, but leaving him there in the Shrieking Shack without a shred of decency or courage  on her part - it was one of the most shameful things she'd ever not done. And being that she was a girl who lived on the power of regret-for-having-done-something-is-better-than-regretting-having-not-done-something, well, that made it worse.

 

She sat down in an iron chair and slipped off her shoes; her feet ached with being trod upon all day, and she massaged them gently with her thumb as she edited scroll after scroll of script.

 

It was strange, how she found herself assigning essay after essay these days, when as a student she'd vowed never to assign an essay in class if *she* were ever the teacher.

 

Those days, she'd been filled with delusions about making classes some sort of elite symposium, where it was assumed that everyone had, indeed, completed their work, and instead they talked about things on a different kind of level - it wasn't flavored like a remedy for uneducation, but flavored like a fine wine of intelligence and wisdom. Something like that.

 

But of course when you got down to brass tacks, teaching a room full of kids, even sixth-years and seventh-years, was like herding kneazles, and time after time again she found that assigning the standard essay was her recourse.

 

It saddened her to see so much important content reduced to a shred of truth, bolstered by assumptions, grandiose generalizations, and limping run-ons, but it was better than not forcing the dunderheads to think about these things at all.

 

She found herself looking up at the gazebo near her often, and her eyes snagged on shadows until they were assured that there was no man in a cloak concealed there, watching her protectively.

 

It made her almost laugh aloud to think that Snape, as large and fat as he was now, might conceivably hide in the shadows of a ramshackle gazebo. She knew she would actually see him right away, if he *were* there, but that didn't stop her from looking.

 

He was, indeed, the sort of person who would get stuck in one's imagination and never leave.

 

Thank goodness he'd left the domains of her imagination, and the replayed scenes of horror and self-hatred, to manifest so pleasantly here at Hogwarts.

 

As she thought about him, she felt pangs of jealous heat, despite herself, towards Erika. Hermione knew she had no claim to Snape - none whatsoever - and that he was an adult, and he was perfectly able to choose a person to be his close friend and fuckbuddy without Hermione's intervention.

 

But Hermione was feeling increasingly like she didn't know him as well as she thought she deserved to - and that was because she didn't know Erika.

 

It was uncharitable, but she imagined Erika to be some monstrous person who used and disposed of lovers, but dragged them along by playing to their most vulnerable bits.

 

After all, hadn't Snape said that Erika hadn't seen him shirtless in *years*? If Erika was so shallow that she wouldn't catch on when Snape was struggling with his self-image, what worth did she have, and what kind of claim could she justify towards Snape's heart?

 

And, thinking about it more: What was it that had made him gain so much weight so fast, Hermione's train of thought continued. What had happened to him?

 

The only things she could think of were magic-related, and therefore not likely contenders.

 

It wasn't just aging. Not everyone who got old also got fat, and Snape was so lean for so long, it made no sense that he would just up and balloon up so swiftly.

 

Her mind teased at her with possibilities, but none of which seemed likely.

 

In any case, she puzzled over these questions as she mused among the ivy, fading red, and the gentle murmur of the fountain bubbling, and the gloomy shadows of the gazebo, and the increasingly-cold feeling of the iron chair and table.

 

Eventually she tired and picked up to go back up to her room, but she realized as she got up to go that there *was* a shadow in the gazebo. And this shadow was lighting a cigarette.

 

"Erm," she said, putting her satchel on her shoulder, "Hello?"

 

She was surprised to see Neville standing there, scratching out his cigarette hastily on the ground with his boot, as if she were his grandmum who'd caught him.

 

"'Mione," he said, smiling as much as he could muster. Which wasn't all that much, it looked like.

 

No, Neville looked the worse for wear. Where Snape had gotten fatter over the past five years, Neville had gotten leaner. He was haggard now, no longer the double-chinned, roly-poly boy of Gryffindor house.  

 

It made Hermione sad, frankly.

 

"How are you? We haven't talked much since school started," Hermione said, approaching him gently. She considered whether or not to hug him, but he didn't hesitate, and he grabbed her around the shoulders and held her tightly, as if dreading letting go.

 

"Now, now, I'm not going to float away," she said, patting him between the shoulder blades. He squeezed her tightly again and reluctantly broke away.

 

"What's happening," he said with a whisper, fingering his cigarette case again, and he looked at Hermione for permission.

 

"Go ahead," she said, shaking her hand at him, "just don't blow in my face."

 

"Sorry," he apologized, and lit up with his wand. He inhaled deeply, looking up at the waning moon, and didn't look at her as he exhaled.

 

"You don't seem well," Hermione said, leaning against one of the gazebo's supportive poles. "You tell me *what's happening.*"

 

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath again, and seemed to visibly relax.

 

She realized the smell of his smoke was strange, and it took her a moment to recognize it. Neville was smoking marijuana.

 

"Funny," she said, as he remained silent, "I wouldn't have pegged you to choose wacky backy."

 

"It's not what it looks like," he said with a whimper that tried to be a growl. He took a deep breath again and leaned against the railing, closing his eyes. "I'm not doing so well, you're right."

 

"What is it?" Hermione asked, realizing that, indeed, there was something truly wrong.

 

He looked at her with sad eyes.

 

"Come on," she said with a whisper, "it can't be that bad."

 

He nodded. "It is."

 

"But..."

 

She tried to ask him *why hasn't the wizarding world cured this yet,* but the words got stuck in her throat. Fortunately, this gave her a chance to reconsider.

 

"I'm so sorry," she said. "I'm so, so sorry." She took a deep breath. "What kind?"

 

Neville grimaced. "Cancer of the lymph."

 

She looked at him, and their eyes met, and she found herself tearing up.

 

"I'm so, so sorry," she whispered.

 

"It is what it is," he said, taking another breath of his joint. "I'll probably survive it. Statistically speaking. They didn't catch it as early as they could have... but no one's to blame for that. Not really," he said, but there was something about his voice that indicated that he did indeed blame someone.

 

Hermione didn't say anything, and Neville took another few deep breaths.

 

"They all just thought I was losing weight because I was becoming more healthy or something," he went on, his voice cold. "They all congratulated me on my portion control. Did anyone check my lymph nodes until they were swollen and painful? No. When I went to the healers for chest pain and constant fatigue, they all just told me to drink more water and take vitamin D."

 

He looked miserable, and slumped more into himself.

 

"I'm so sorry," Hermione whispered. She felt a variety of emotions - a desire to help, a desire to ease his pain, a desire to find a preventative cure. "How long has this been going on?"

 

He shrugged. "Since last school year. It's sometimes better, sometimes worse. Mostly worse."

 

He took a deep breath. "But what can you do. I just ask you don't tell my grandmarm. It's hard enough trying to keep it from McGonagall and the rest."

 

"Why not tell them?" Hermione exclaimed.

 

"What, and lose my position, which I just got?” he said, "Risk looking weak and incompetent, yet again? No!

 

“Moreover,” he added, “it's my own private health matter. I have no desire to be pitied. I've had enough of that for one lifetime." He shook his head, evidentially regretting things in the past.

 

Hermione saw his pain, and wanted to do something, so she asked, “What can I do to help?"

 

Neville snorted, which was strange to see. He'd become bitter with his disease.

 

“Nothing you’d actually do for me,” he said with a hollow laugh. “Nothing that anyone’d do for me, these days.”

 

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked.

 

Neville looked at her squarely, then, evidentially deciding he could risk telling her, said flatly, “Luna and I broke it off.”

 

“Oh,” Hermione said, a sad weight sinking into her stomach. “Oh.”

 

“Yeah,” Neville said, and his face started to clearly tear up, and he began to cry. He sank down onto the ground and sat there, curled into a ball, and he sobbed. “I… I just want to be held,” he whimpered, “I want someone to tell me it’ll be all right. I want to be cuddled, and kissed, and held, and sucked off once in a while, and told that I’m not alone. That’s what I want,” he said, choking up on his own words, “and I may as well say it, since I’m being a bloody fool right now, but Hermione, I’ve always carried a torch for you. And if you want me to be completely honest - I want you to care about me, at least a little, and hold me and tell me it will be all right. Because I’d trust it, from you. And maybe I won’t die alone.”

 

Now none of these feelings were ones that Hermione had ever reciprocated. She’d never thought of Neville more than a friend, though granted she’d occasionally noticed the way his pants were just a trifle too tight, and his belly was hanging pudgily over his belt. But she’d been so consumed with her school-wifery of Ron and Harry that Neville simply hadn’t been observed by her.

 

She was observing him now. And she was wishing that she wasn’t entering a pseudo-relationship with Snape right this very moment.

 

“Perhaps it’s just my infatigable do-gooder instincts,” she said softly, kneeling and putting a hand on his shoulder, “but I’d like to be that person, at least do some of those things.”

 

He was genuinely startled, and his dew-kissed eyes fluttered open. He was weak and fragile, and inspired all sorts of tender feelings in her breast.

 

Dammit all. This was the same sort of problem she had with Harry and Ron. She couldn’t help but be attracted to any attractive figure that sat in front of her.

 

Hm. Actually. This was the same sort of problem she had with Harry and Ron - but there was a possible fix.

 

“So, erm,” Hermione said, “I don’t know what or how much we can do, or how far we can go, since, erm, I’m kinda starting a new relationship right now.”

 

Neville retreated as self-consciously as a snail. “Oh, then, never mind, I’m sorry, please, I didn’t know. Forgive me.”

 

“No,” Hermione said, “you misunderstand. This particular relationship, I think, has some… room… for a kind of arrangement that would be satisfying to both yourself and me.”

 

Neville looked at her quizzically, but he was clearly not impressed.

 

“I don’t think I want to be part of that,” he said, sadly. “I mean…”

 

He hesitated, and his tongue passed over his lips. He was clearly weighing the benefits of being with Hermione and not, and it was not an intuitive decision.

 

“Who,” he said at last, “is this other relationship with? Someone I know?”

 

“Erm,” Hermione said, and she imagined at once that Neville’s reaction would be volcanic. “I don’t know that I want to talk about the specifics, exactly. I’m not sure what he and I are doing right now. But,” she added, grasping him in both arms and cradling him, “I know that I want to be here for you. Even if it’s a bit late.”

 

He continued to cry quietly into her shoulder, clearly resonating with the feeling of having let his burden down for the first time in a long while.

 

It felt so strange, knowing that she had an agreement with Snape and yet here she was, entirely permitted to indulge her desire to comfort Neville in whatever way she chose. Though granted, she realized that she and Snape had far from described exactly what the parameters of their relationship were.

 

In any case, she’d see him tomorrow, hopefully they’d be able to stave off having sex for long enough to see where their boundaries lay, and then she’d see where Neville fit into all this.

 

He seemed to cry for an eternity, there in the gardens, but Hermione was compassionate to every tear, and she didn’t feel begrudging one bit.


There was, as it turned out, only one thing that distracted Neville from his physical and emotional pain enough to stop crying - and that was a lovely, deep kiss.

Chapter Text

 

Saturday breakfast was leisurely and wonderful, with scones and jam, but Hermione did not overindulge. She had kept her meals light throughout the past few days, always leaving the table a little hungry.

 

If Snape liked to watch her eat, then by golly, she would eat.

 

The sun was running its paces faster and faster through the sky, so when she got into the Great Hall for lunch, the sun was shining through the windows already, and all the students were lazily trickling in from whatever activities they’d been at all morning (including sleeping, she assumed).

 

Snape was already there, even though she thought she was early herself, and he was staring coldly in the direction of the Slytherin table.

 

“You all right?” she asked as she approached him, and gently stroked the back of his hand.

 

He cast her a warning look, and it was all she needed to know she needed to back off.

 

“I get it,” she said with a nod, and sat down, her eyes drifting in the direction of his own gaze. Two Hufflepuff pranksters, dressed in black from head to toe, including synthetic, unnaturally dark long tresses, were throwing bedpillows at each other over the dining table, the feathers spewing everywhere.

 

Hermione wasn’t sure immediately what had happened, but she watched as one of them - a 2nd year named Milly - grabbed all the pillows again and - to Hermione’s shock - shoved them up her robes, creating an enormous round belly, complete with rolls. Speaking of - Milly’s compatriot, Roveric, grabbed several sweet pastries from the table and gave them to the other prankster, and Milly smeared her face with them, and took a few enormous bites to fill out her cheeks.

 

“I’m Professor Serious Snaps,” she said, deadpan, “and I lurk the castle at night because I’m still searching for the lost breakfasts of Christmases past.”

 

This was met with uproarious hooting and applause, to which the budding actress crowed with delight, “Detention, detention for all of you! Except for Slytherins. You get to crawl up on my belly for the warmth.”

 

Hermione stood, and cast one look at Snape, who was abject (she could tell now) but still stoic, and she literally leaped over the table - managing to be graceful, not awkward - and approached the Hufflepuff table. The children had never seen her mad before, so they didn’t stop their games.

 

Well, when she grabbed the ear of the ringleaders and dragged them out of the Great Hall, the rest stopped and stared after them in wonderment and fear.

 

“Erm, Professor Granger,” chirped Roveric, “we didn’t intend for it to get this out of hand, you see-”

 

“Enough,” Hermione said, her voice so cold it nearly chilled her teeth, “enough.”

 

She dragged them out of sight of the Great Hall’s open doors, and let them stand in the corner for a good long minute quivering before she spoke.

 

“Mildred,” she said, “don’t you have something about your body you’re ashamed of?”

 

The girl squirmed. “Erm.”

 

“Spit it out.”

 

She looked pale, and glanced at Roveric.

 

Hermione kept her face stern. “You felt like it was all right to embarrass an esteemed Professor - who is also one of the most important people who made the wizarding world safe for you to live today - in front of over a hundred students. I’m sure you can handle sharing in front of just one.”

 

Roveric giggled nervously, and Hermione just shot him a look that said, ‘You’re next.’

 

Milly blinked, then said, “Erm. Well. I… my cunt don’t  look like they do in pictures.”

 

This made Roveric - poor chap - turn dirigible red.

 

Hermione sighed. Yet another thing to talk about with McGonagall - sex education. “As long as there aren’t six tentacles poking out of it, you are probably fine, my dear.”

 

The girl still appeared concerned, and a little embarrassed, but Roveric looked like he was going to die of not breathing.

 

Hermione rolled her eyes. “But even if there was something wrong with it,” she said, as the girl opened her mouth with an unmistakable ‘erm-professor-could-you-take-a-look-at-this-please’ in her eyes, “would you be happy to have it be the talk of the school over Saturday morning lunch, the day of a big game?”

 

The students both knew they’d been told, and hung their heads in lieu of an answer.

 

“Roveric,” Hermione went on, “tell us something now.”

The boy mumbled something, without looking up, and Hermione demanded, “speak up!”

 

“I got pimples,” the boy said, “in my arsecrack.”

 

Hermione had to summon willpower from one of the nearby suits of armor in order to suppress her laughter.

 

“And you wouldn’t like that to be shared with other people, either, I take it?” she said firmly.

 

“No,” he admitted.

 

“So,” Hermione said, “how do you think someone like Professor Snape might feel about being teased for something that’s not his fault?”

 

“How is it not his fault?” Roveric exclaimed. “He’s a fucking lardarse.”

 

“And how do you know it’s not a spell cast by an enemy that made him a ‘fucking lardarse,’” Hermione hissed. “How do you know it’s not because he’s sick? How do you know it’s not because his body is just different?”

 

The children were clearly regretting their activities of the hour.

 

“I didn’t mean to let it get this far,” Milly said, becoming tearful. “It just happened. I just was trying things on for the game and my friends told me I looked like Professor Snape, and I thought it was funny so I took it downstairs.”

 

“How embarrassing,” Hermione said with a shake of her bushy head. “Especially to be made a fool of for losing points for your house on the day of a major game. Fifty points from Hufflepuff.”

 

Both of them looked crestfallen, and began to realize the severity of the situation.

 

“Moreover,” Hermione went on, “if this incident ‘just happened’ to you, I think it’s safe to say that you have no right to be criticizing someone for something that might have ‘just happened’ to them,” Hermione said without skipping a beat. “I think you’ll reconsider this course of action if it ‘just happens’ in the future.”

 

“Yes, Professor,” Milly said, sniffling, and Roveric nodded in agreement, looking pained.

 

“I think,” Hermione said, “that the best way you can apologize is to think of something truly, truly nice to do for the Professor. In fact, I will give back half the points to Hufflepuff if you come up with and act out a suitable idea. Am I understood?”

 

Their chime, in unison, of “yes Professor Granger,” was music to her ears, and she went back to the Great Hall, where Snape appeared to have relaxed none of his muscles, and he was waiting for her, not having eaten a single bite of his food.

 

Neville came in just then, and Hermione waved, but she sat down next to Snape. She saw Neville’s eyes flit from Hermione, to Snape, and back to Hermione again, then with a carefully-cultivated ambivalence, the younger professor chose a seat at the opposite end of the table, where he half-heartedly ate a bowl of porridge.

 

Hermione could only focus on one catastrophe for the moment, however, and she pushed Snape’s plate towards him.

 

“Eat,” she murmured, “it’s fine now.”

 

“You took points,” he said, not nodding or gesturing at the house points display. “Quite a few, it seems.”

 

“I’ll give the points back to them,” Hermione said, “provided they do something for me.”

 

“Ah,” Snape said, apparently reassured, “so your bleeding heart has not escaped you after all.”

 

“No indeed,” Hermione said with a grin, “It’s just gotten a bit more sly.”

 

“I see,” Snape said, sitting back in his chair and steepling his fingers thoughtfully.

 

His stomach gurgled pleasantly, and *how* arousing it was for her!

 

She responded by taking her fork and taking a bite of his spaghetti bolognese. “Hey,” he exclaimed, but gently, watching her face as she spooned the red sauce into her mouth and chewed and swallowed.

 

“Always looks better on someone else’s plate,” Hermione said with a smile, and got up to get herself a plate of her own.

 

Upon her return, he’d cleared half of the contents of his own plate, and was dabbing his lips with a napkin in as dainty a manner as possible - as if he could hide the sheer pleasure he’d been having in filling his belly.

 

“Come now,” Hermione said, and put a second plate next to his. “You’ll be wanting a bit more, so I saved myself the trouble of getting up a second time.”

 

“Or have you?” Snape asked with a smile, and Hermione was pleased to see that he seemed no longer to be paying attention to the children. A good thing, too, because Milly and Roveric were watching Snape eat with a mixture of concern, disgust, and fear.

 

Hermione herself gave them a stern warning look that made them retreat hastily into their own lunches, and though they periodically checked back to see if she was still looking, she didn’t disappoint them.

 

At least her charmwork didn’t disappoint them. For herself, Hermione was unable to tear her eyes from Snape and his nice fat belly, heavying man-breasts, and tickling of a triple-chin.

 

As he tore his way through a third - then fourth - platter of spaghetti, then finished with two generous slabs of chocolate cake, Hermione was almost unable to keep her hands away from her clit to more decent places. As it was, as she helped grab his napkin from the floor when he dropped it, she went nearly wild to feel his boner creeping underneath his trousers.

 

Soon they finished lunch and exited the Great Hall, Snape moving slowly with the preponderance of food that had made its temporary home in his stomach.

 

“How full are you?” she asked as they began to walk outside in the yard towards the apparition point.

 

“Just full enough that I won’t be hungry until dinner,” Snape said, “and just in case…” He waved his hand, and a basket emerged from where it was invisible, floating behind them.  

 

“How sweet,” Hermione said, in all sincerity, and showed him that she’d also brought provisions in her magic shrinking bag.

 

“We *will* be feasting up there, won’t we?” he said with a lopsided smile that was entirely too adorable, and Hermione added, “and other things, I hope.”

 

“Quite,” he said, almost jovial, and soon they reached the apparition point.

 

“Take my hands,” he said commandingly, and she obeyed without question. “Let me lead,” he said, and she closed her eyes, allowing him to will them where he wanted to go.

 

With a few moments, they arrived on a beautiful hillcrest.

………….

(sorry for lack of posting after a consistent two weeks or so - real life caught up to me! argh! it’s got my legs, it’s got my legs! help save me!)

Chapter Text

They landed in the middle of a beautiful hill with patches of dying heather scattered all around. Hermione reflexively gathered her arms around her to insulate herself from the brisk, bog-scented breeze that came from over the moor, and Snape noticed before she did herself, and cast a warming spell over her. He himself was wearing a heavy coat that settled well over his large body. Not saying anything, he strode forward, putting on his long komodo-hide gloves, and started skinning the dried yarrow flowers from their stalks.

 

She hadn't known he was serious about this being an actual gathering trip, so for a moment she floundered - she had worn good walking shoes and a warm wool sweater, but she hadn't brought anything to take clippings or collect them.

 

Snape seemed to have anticipated this, however, and as she caught his eye, he nodded towards the basket that had followed them.

 

"I wasn't sure if you would remember to bring the necessary things," he said, grunting as he bent over, "so I took the liberty of bringing extras."

 

"Thanks," Hermione said, going to the basket and opening it.

 

She tried not to look too closely at the food that jammed the basket to its brim, so that it'd be a surprise when they got it out. She saw another pair of heavy gloves and retrieved them, as well as a pair of iron clippers, and several mesh bags of varying fineness.

 

She grabbed one of the more fine ones and put on the gloves, then joined Snape in his exercise.

 

He seemed to be enjoying his exertions, she noticed as she set herself up to work alongside him. His hands grasped the stems firmly, without breaking them, and if it was a single stem without any extensions, he'd cup his hand around the stem and slide it upwards with a swift and practiced motion that resulted in virtually no breakage, and almost no loss of the tiny frail drying flowers.

 

Hermione tried to emulate him, and initially lost a great deal, the flowers and their pollen floating in the afternoon air like powdered sugar.

 

"Faster," he said, "you have to be like a viper. And be on the watch for poison hemlock," he added, "it looks similar, and sometimes the most frail and delicate of flowers is the most deadly."

 

"You don't need to warn me about that," snapped Hermione, "I've taken first-year potions."

 

He didn't respond, instead just snapping a final cluster of flowers and moving to another part of the patch.

 

They worked in this way for a time, until Snape decided they'd filled enough bags with flowers, and he sealed them with an antileakage charm and got out trowels.

 

"Roots," he said by explanation, "It's a bit of work, but it's a galleon per pound."

 

"Oh," Hermione said, and realized that, of course, he wasn't just picking all this just for his own potions. As she looked at the bags they'd collected - about two dozen at this point - it was painfully obvious that it was more than a single potions-master, even one completing research, might need.

 

"What," he asked, studying her face as she obediently picked up a trowel and knelt on the ground, "are you disappointed that I should be so mercenary?"

 

Hermione began to excavate a root from a plant she had already picked flowers from. "If I were less of a pragmatist," she said slowly, "I'd say that it was inappropriate to pick things to sell on a date."

 

He looked stricken, and stopped scraping at the ground to look at her attentively. He seemed a little confused, but as she was getting to read him better, she could tell he was mostly scared.

 

"However," she said, continuing with the task of shoveling before her, "I am more of a pragmatist than most girls, so as long as I get a cut, it's fine with me."

 

"Oh, of course," he said, visibly relaxing. "Except that it's not for personal gain. This is purely to supplement my meager research fund."

 

"Really?" Hermione said, taken aback. "You mean to say that you're struggling for funding? After all you've done for this country?"

 

He shrugged, and went on digging. "McGonagall gives me an annual research stipend in lieu of a full salary. Since I'm not teaching, she doesn't feel like I deserve a substantial income separate from my research goals, especially since I am not paying for the research facilities-"

 

"-you mean the dungeons," Hermione interrupted with a grimace.

 

"I get a certain amount that I am permitted to use for personal matters, and a certain number of quid in a pension fund," he continued, and moaned in pleasure as he successfully unearthed a large nebulous root network. "And I in fact earn more than I did as a teacher and as head of house. But there is the expectation that since my cost of living is so low, the money I receive is supposed to cover all of the work that I do. I can't get another penny out of her. Which is ridiculous," he went on, bagging the root system and inching carefully towards the next bulging recipient of his attention, "given that the cost of my materials for a semester can potentially be more than my earnings."

 

"I can't believe it," Hermione said with a frown. "How do you make up the difference?"

 

He shrugged. "Grants, mostly. But the problem with those is that I have to squeeze my goals into their parameters. Sometimes this means I massage the goals of my research - which is not ethical of course, particularly since I am expected to get certain results - but more often I massage my project's boundaries. My research, indeed, is just as bloated and overextended as other things about me," he said, sending her a firey glance that betrayed how shallowly beneath the surface his lust lurked.

 

Hermione took this as a cue, and carefully removed her gloves by turning them inside-out, attentively not getting the outside surface of the gloves on her hands. As Snape turned back to digging - well, more like stabbing at the soft dirt around the base of the root with his trowel - Hermione moved behind him and gently snaked her hands underneath his coat and settled them on either side of his paunch, which seemed to struggle to be comfortable as Snape knelt in the dirt.

 

"I like these other things about you," Hermione said with a shiver, pressing her lips against his neck, letting her hands snuggle in the folds of his lovehandles, her fingers draping over the curve of his belly and patting it gently, stroking it.

 

"Also," she went on, as Snape leaned back, uncurled his legs, and sat back on his arse, heaving deeper and deeper breaths as he gave up on this particular root for the moment. "I'm impressed by your taste. I never really noticed how much care you put in dressing. When I was a student, it was all black, black, black to me. But now I notice that you seem to choose the softest, most lovely fabrics. It's nice."

 

"Blame Lucius Malfoy for that," Snape said with a groan, "there was a day in fifth year where I was... embarrassed by my clothing, and Malfoy decided that it reflected badly on the whole house for me to be dressed so poorly, so he made a point of taking me shopping, in exchange for writing some essays for him or some nonsense." He sighed. "He was so in the closet, it was ridiculous. I'm certain he enjoyed that shopping trip much more than I did, even child of poverty that I was."

 

"So ever since, you were addicted," Hermione said, letting her hands relish the feel of his silk shirt and the soft, tender, juicy man inside it.

 

"No, not addicted," Snape corrected, as he took off his gloves from the inside-out as well, "it... mostly was for self-protection."

 

He leaned back into her slightly, and grasped her hands, guiding them closer to the front of his belly, and gently rubbing them against him.

 

"Once I realized that people based their impressions of you so heavily on your clothes," he went on, "I saw a reason and a way to take charge of how people saw me. And once I realized that Malfoy was an easy mark when it came to dressing up young men," he said with a smirk, "I... well, I won't say exploited that, but I took advantage of it as needed until I couldn't any more. And at this point," he said, unwinding her from his body and turning around to face her, "I am able to take care of myself, as it were."

 

"No more dressing up for Lucius Malfoy," Hermione said, pressing more kisses into his neck, and his breathing began to get more shallow. "Did you ever do anything else for Lucius Malfoy?"

 

"Oh, just the typical tit-for-tat," Snape said, clearly not interested in going into more detail, but he added, dismissively, "I sucked his dick in broom closets, let him fuck me in the ass whenever he liked, that sort of thing."

 

She looked at him, somewhat horrified at his blase attitude.

 

"It's not as if that wasn't the norm back then," he said, with a detached coolness that frightened her. He nestled his face into her neck as she held him, and he had one hand on his belly, one hand on her thigh. It was an awkward but strangely adorable position. "The purebloods of their parents' generation were *so* fucked up. There was an explicit belief that purity reigned above all, and that fucking boys didn't count as impure because of bullshit reasons, and they remained virgins if they avoided contact with women until marriage. As most of them insisted, Malfoy talked big about his love of the fairer sex, but unlike most of them, I could tell he actually *enjoyed* seeing me naked."

 

Hermione let her hands drift down, and she pulled him close into a hug, not sure how she felt about all this self-disclosure.

 

"Are you all right?" he asked, pulling away just enough to look at her face.

 

"Fine," she said, her tongue feeling heavy. "It's just hard envisioning you as a bottom."

 

"I didn't think of it that way," he said, putting his face back where it had been, which was nice because his plump face against her clavicle was warm and comforting. “I didn’t feel taken advantage of. I only bottomed for Malfoy, and I definitely felt like I was getting the better half of the deal.”

 

“All for a bunch of clothes,” Hermione said with a frown. She didn’t like to judge, but in this particular case, she felt justified.

 

“Well,” Snape said, “there was that, but there was also protection. No one in Slytherin bothered me anymore about my blood status, which was nice.”

 

This changed how Hermione felt about the situation immediately. “Oh. I see.”

 

“Yeah,” he went on, almost wistfully, then said, “but enough about that. We’ve still got much of our task ahead of us.”

 

He eased himself out of her hold and went back on his knees to continue digging, casting a glance back at her as he did so, as if unsure what she was thinking of him - and as if he was concerned about it.

 

She stood and tapped the trowel, transfiguring it into a spade, and she leaned into it.

 

“Be careful,” he warned as the metal sank into the earth, “you don’t want to destroy the roots. They’re very thin and small.”

 

“I’ll just loosen up the soil around the edges, and you get it out with the trowel when you’re ready,” Hermione said.

 

She pressed it into the earth and felt it sink into the soil, and it stopped when it hit a root, and she carefully wiggled it until she was digging around the root. Once she’d found the bottom of the root base, she used the spade as a lever to raise the plant out of the ground.

 

Snape watched with concern and interest, and ultimately begrudging approval.

 

“That fine?” she asked, and he nodded.

 

“Just don’t cut up the roots too badly,” he said, and moved to unearth the rest of the one she’d been working on gently. His work was painstaking, like an archaeologist brushing away soil from a priceless painting.

 

She watched him with fascination at the way he leaned forward, his belly sagging against his plump thighs, his man-breasts hanging heavily, his bottom lip tucked under as he focused on the careful procedure. She realized she’d never seen him truly at work, ever, after years of knowing each other, and it was refreshing to see him in a position where he was in his element so absolutely.

 

It occurred to her that she’d also never really seen him *happy* before, and that saddened her.

 

“Kiss me,” she said as he paused to wipe the sweat from his brow with the back of his glove.

 

“With pleasure,” he growled, and their lips met.

 

He tasted salty, and bitter. Not minty-fresh, but still pleasant. She pulled away an inch or two to look into his eyes.

 

“Your lips are so fucking soft,” she whispered, and licked them tenderly, her tongue convincing its way into his mouth again, and he made small protesting noises, though smiling.

 

“We’ve got to finish,” he said, though it was clear he was saying this just for the sake of being responsible.

 

“Screw responsibility,” Hermione said with a flirtatious sweep of her hair. “Screw me instead.”

 

He looked at the roots in his hands, then without preamble he dropped them and again unrolled his gloves.

 

“I can’t say no to that,” he said with a glittering smile, and he stood up awkwardly. “Get the blanket.”

 

Hermione didn’t need to be told twice, and in a split second the blanket was laid out on the dry, slightly damp grass.

 

Snape’s belt buckle clinked as he whipped it off, and Hermione noticed he had extended his trousers today, or worn a looser pair - there were no harsh red lines telling the tale of the struggle between his garments and his body today.

 

She lay down on the blanket and drew up her modest, long dress to reveal that she was wearing no underwear.

 

“Oh,” Snape said softly, easing himself onto the blanket, “you’d like me to do something about that?”

 

“Not yet,” Hermione said with a whimper, “kiss me more.”

 

He responded positively to this command, and lay down next to her, slipping his arms out of his coat and laying it across them both.

 

Then Hermione began licking him, all over his face - the high parts of his cheekbones, from which his fat cheeks drooped so elegantly; his nice round chins; his taut upper lip; his earlobes; his neck.

 

In response, he lay there perfectly still, his eyes closed and his face taut with a growing smile. His hands began to wander around her body, feeling her squishy parts and her firm parts with equal attention, and he stroked her lower and lower until, finally, the inevitable - they dodged under her hem and began to play with her clit, stroking her as gently and lovingly as a musician might a mandolin, bringing her closer and closer.

 

Hermione’s breathing quickened, and she smelled the scents of the dry hillside: rain on the horizon, leaves aging into temperate reds and yellows, mildewy lichen, and the heavy scent of peat. All this served as a backdrop for Snape’s smells - clean laundry, sweat, yarrow sap, and post-lunch breath.

 

Snape was laying his head on her stomach, and he turned to look into her eyes searchingly. He was somber, but focused, and all of a sudden a flash of impishness came on his face, and he dove down to lick and suck at her lower regions.

 

She hadn’t felt so spoiled in a long time. Viktor had been this interested in pleasing her, but Ron had never been - cunninlingus had been a chore for him. Now of course she knew why, but at the time she had forgot that some men *liked* to lick pussy. And it was lovely to see that Snape wasted no time working on this goal.

 

“Enough,” she finally whimpered, wet and overwhelmed by desire, her cunt aching, “get inside me.”

 

He eased himself into a missionary position, and arranged his belly so that he had unobstructed access; it landed on her pubic area and sent a wave of stimulation through that area, so pleasurable that she nearly fainted at the feeling of his fat belly there.

 

He cast the normal protective, anti-pregnancy charms and went fully into her, thrusting in beautiful agony, and Hermione writhed under him, completely satisfied with being stuck underneath his enormous stomach. She felt it dig into her over and over again, heavy in its pressure, and she felt moans of pleasure ease out of her body despite herself.

 

“Oh yes,” she breathed as he hungrily consumed her, “please, please, yes.”

 

Her cervix was tight and tingling, full of the blissful experience of being filled with a cock of perfect fit. It was a relief after years of pretending that Ron’s rod-like cock, so narrow and long, satisfied her.

 

In and out he went, every moment breathing hard with the exertion.

 

She noticed that he sweated a lot, at least today, and it was almost enough to make her laugh out loud as she felt drop after drop land on her creamy skin. She loved feeling him inside her. He was so virile and soft and luxurious. There was nothing, nothing, she felt, that could make her more happy than fucking him right now.

 

He had a lot more endurance today, and she herself was almost fatigued by the time he finally came inside her and collapsed, heavy and unbearably delightful on top of her, protecting her from the wind like an enormous warm bear. He kissed her over and over, and she smiled and kissed him back.

“That was beautiful,” she said, and kissed him, her arms around his soft torso.

 

“You’re beautiful,” he said after a pause, as if he’d debated in his mind whether or not he was willing to be that corny.

 

She laughed and kissed him again, her mind awash with pleasant feelings.

 

They lay there a few minutes, resting, breathing deeply of the clean air, listening to the rustling of the dry grass in the wind, the soft rumbling of a nearby unseen brook, and each others’ breathing.

 

As she embraced that clarity, she remembered that she’d forgotten to tell him about Neville, and she felt a lump form in her stomach.

 

She sat up and pulled her dress down, but wrapped the coat around her as much as she could.

 

“Hey,” he said, lazily, “I’m the one without trousers.”

 

“Look,” she said, pointing. Her eyes trained on a motion in the distance, in the underbrush. “That’s not a sheep. There’s no domestic animals around here.”

 

He sat up, reaching for his trousers. “Where?”

 

She stared at the animal, and as it moved, she saw its profile, and she could tell what it was. “There. It’s a doe, it looks like. With a fawn.”

 

The graceful creature trotted through the heather, and disappeared out of sight as it headed in the shadow of their hill.

 

“I saw,” Snape said sadly, and sighed deeply. He lay back down again and stared blankly at the sky.

 

It took her a moment to realize why this might be triggering for him, but a conversation with Harry had given her knowledge that Snape’s patronus was a doe, same as Harry’s mum’s.

 

She bent her head. “Sorry,” she said, “so sorry.”

 

“Whatever,” he said, throatily, “I’ve got to grow up sometime. Can’t fucking go on like this forever.”

 

She raised her head to look at him, and he caught her eye, and in response he covered his face with his hair. He wasn’t fast enough to prevent her from noticing that he’d already gotten teary-eyed.

*Fuck* Hermione thought.

 

“You take your time growing up,” she said, “I’m still getting to know you, and eventually I won’t run ramshod accidentally over your sore spots.”

 

“No,” he said, “instead…”

 

But he seemed to reconsider his words, and swallowed them.

 

“Instead what?” she asked, laying down next to him, putting a hand on his thigh, and staring at the sky alongside him.

 

“...my temper was going to make me say something unkind,” he said, his voice tight. “I’m choosing not to.”

 

“Thanks,” Hermione said, though she felt uncomfortable. This was yet another time that Snape had gone from utterly blissful to tearful in a matter of moments, and it was concerning. However, she wasn’t about to say anything about it now, so she filed it away for later. She felt bad for even filing it away, particularly as his hand sought out her own, and she grasped it.

 

*Poor broken man,* she thought, *you’ve had it rough enough without me trying to decide that you’re too broken for me to love before I’ve given you a chance.*

 

She stroked him comfortingly, and she noticed his breathing become regular and slow, not strained and shallow. Sitting up, she took a good look at his face, and she decided he had fallen at least partially asleep.

 

Deciding she had better get back to work, she went back to gather more yarrow roots.

 

He awoke a mere quarter hour later, and appeared recomposed. “Good,” he said, kissing her on the cheek as she finished bagging a fifth bag of roots, “we’ve got another few bags to go, then we’ll call it a day, does that sound all right to you?”

 

“What about other plants?” Hermione asked, “there’s poison hemlock around here, isn’t there?”

 

“Yes,” Snape said, “though we can’t pick anything else once we’ve gathered it, at least not without cleansing our gloves and shears.”

 

“Well, let’s make that our last effort for the day,” Hermione said, “It’s useful, and certainly brings more per bag than this silly yarrow.”

 

“True,” Snape said with a sly smile. “I still feel that you’re an awfully strange Gryffindor.”

 

“Perhaps, perhaps not,” she replied evasively, and heaved up another root system for him to excavate.

 

They spent another hour on these tasks, until finally Snape sat back on the blanket, grabbing a canteen of water and sipping from it. “I’m not ready to continue until I’ve had a bit of something. Will you join me?”

 

“Of course,” she said with a purr, peeling off her gloves.

 

He got out two mugs and immediately filled them with sweet spiced cider, setting the bottle with a charm to automatically refill them when needed, and Hermione laid out an assortment of cheese and butter, and pressed them onto slices of fresh rye bread.

 

As Snape chewed his second slice, Hermione felt like she’d waited too long to mention Neville.

 

“So, what exactly are our parameters for our relationship, given that it seems we are starting one?” she said, leaning back and sipping her cider.

 

“I thought it was unclear whether or not we were starting something,” Snape replied casually, but based on the attentive look in his eyes, this was an affected casualness.

 

“I guess so,” Hermione said, and sighed. “So let’s make it explicit, then.”

 

“This suits me,” he said dryly, but he was smiling gently.

 

“So given that we are doing a relationship, of sorts,” Hermione said, “the qualities of it are yet to be defined. You said you really don’t want me pursuing casual relationships with others. Am I correct about this impression?”

 

Snape shrugged, not appearing concerned. “Who do you have your eye on?” The look in his eyes seemed to assume that there wasn’t anyone interesting in the sphere of Hogwarts, so he wasn’t worried.

 

“Erm,” Hermione said, then took a deep breath. “I have to confess - last night, I kissed Neville Longbottom.”

 

Snape literally dropped the slice of bread from his hand.

 

“Don’t worry,” Hermione said, “he’s not any sort of competition for you, especially not in the important ways like physical attraction and whatnot. I just… erm…”

 

Snape seemed to be in a frenzy of internal calculations, given his eyes were glued to the ground, and his lips moved ever so slightly.

 

“Can you listen to me, please?” Hermione said, and he snapped to attention.

 

“Yes,” he said, clearly biting his tongue.

 

“Neville’s ill,” Hermione said, “in fact, there’s a chance he’s going to die. He’s incredibly lonely. And don’t you *dare* tell anyone else on staff that he’s sick,” she added, “he’s terrified of losing his position.”

 

Snape rolled his eyes. “Gryffindors.”

 

Hermione conceded that it wasn’t likely that Neville would be dismissed for being ill, so she didn’t argue.

 

“Anyway,” she said, “perhaps it isn’t the best timing-”

 

“-that’s bloody accurate,” Snape hissed, but he picked up his bread finally from the blanket and stuffed the rest in his mouth.

 

Taking this as a good sign, Hermione went on, “Point is, Neville is lonely for physical touch and companionship. You don’t want to see me all the time, and I get lonely when you don’t want to see me, so I figure it might work.”

 

“Would you want to fuck him?” asked Snape, barely keeping civil.

 

She knew she couldn’t get away with half-truths with Snape at this point.

 

“I dunno,” Hermione said, “maybe? However,” she said, “he’s just not attractive to me. His cancer has done away with all his soft parts.”

 

Snape seemed vaguely reassured, though not completely. Hermione realized that part of his fear must have been related to Neville’s gangly body. *He doesn’t believe that I genuinely prefer bigger folks,* Hermione realized, and once she understood this, it made Snape’s entire reaction more understandable.

 

She went on, “I’d be happy to cuddle with him and try and cajole him into putting some meat back on his bones. And who knows what might happen,” Hermione went on, “Maybe I’d even touch him, and maybe I’d let him touch me, too. But he’s not the person on campus that drives me wild with desire,” she said, gently touching his tense arm. “He’s not the one that excites me.”

 

“How much of this is bullshit, Hermione?” he asked carefully, and she could tell he was testing her.

 

“None of it,” she said firmly, looking into his eyes. “I erred by kissing him without talking to you about it first. I feel guilty about that, just in case you see that feeling in my face. But I don’t have an interest in him aside from a friends-with-benefits sort of situation.”

 

“And why is that?” Snape asked crisply.

 

Hermione let her hand wind into his own. “Fundamentally, he doesn’t have the same level of intellectual engagement that I need.”

 

They studied each other for a while, and then Snape took a deep breath and laughed.

 

“If I am deceived now,” he said, “then shame on me.”

 

“I’m not deceiving you,” she said. “I’m not good at deceit.”

 

“No, I suppose not,” he said, with a strained smile. “All right. Have your thing with Longbottom. I certainly can’t tell you not to.”

 

“Thanks for your blessing,” Hermione said, “but what else are you thinking about? There’s something you’re not saying.”

 

Snape shrugged. “I’m mostly embarrassed that I felt threatened at all. By *Longbottom* of all people.”

 

“He’s got good qualities,” Hermione said in Neville’s defense, “just not the kind of qualities I need for someone of more primary importance in my life.”

 

“Have I already risen so high in your estimations?” Snape asked with a sharp laugh.

 

“Yes!” Hermione said. “How can you doubt that?”

 

He shook his head and hid his face. “Instead of saying something vicious, I’m going to take what you’re saying at face value. Now Hermione,” he said with a grimace, “I’m hungry, which makes my mood more unpleasant. You should feed me and prove me that you’re *really* into fat men.”

 

“Not only am I *really* into fat men,” Hermione said with a shiver, “I’m into *really fat* men.”

 

“Then let’s set about making me fatter.”

 

He reclined back on the blanket and laid a hand on his stomach provocatively.

 

“No matter how fat Longbottom gets under your healing custody,” he said, “I fully intend to be exponentially fatter.”

 

Hermione shivered and leaned in to kiss him. “Thanks for keeping your darker parts in check for me,” she said. “I’m sure it’s difficult.”

 

“Difficult as fuck,” he said, “especially when I’m hungry. Feed me, witch.”

 

“Okay, you don’t need to ask twice,” Hermione said with a laugh, and she went back to the basket.



…………….

Note: I forget which year Malfoy canonically graduated, I think it was actually like five years before Severus’ graduation. But whatever, in this story he’s a 7th year when Severus is a 5th year.

 

Also: if you want to see what I’m seeing in my head as far as the moors go, google “Loch Ness, Glencoe and Scottish Highlands Day Tour from Glasgow” (with quotes) and on the first hit, look at the picture with a rock in the foreground. The yarrow plants aren’t there, but otherwise it’s a good visual image. Also yes, I did research on plants of the region. ;)  Some combination of that and the picture that comes up when you google “South from Holcombe Moor, Greater Manchester, England” (with quotes).


Chapter Text

The sun came out for the third or fourth time that afternoon, casting the moor in a golden light, making Snape’s perfect - *perfect* - dark hair glisten.

 

She grabbed the plate of cheese and bread and lay down next to him, and he readjusted himself so that they were both looking at one another, and he rested one hand on his belly and propped up his head with his other arm folded beneath his neck.

 

Without a word, she broke the rind off the hearty bread, smothered it in the cool, creamy butter from the basket, and offered it to his lips. They opened hungrily, and stole it from her fingers, licking the butter off her fingertips to follow.

 

“More,” he implored, moving closer to her on the blanket, inching his body sideways like a large fat seal on the beach.

 

“You’re so round,” she said admiringly, and she folded the entire rest of the slice of buttered bread in her hand over twice, and then squished it together until it formed a ball, and then she dipped it in the butter again and put it in his hungry mouth. “It looks like we’ve got a lot in this wonderful basket of yours, so I hope you also brought your appetite.”

 

“When do I ever forget it?” he said with a low, delicious growl, and suddenly his lips were sucking the place where her second chin was forming so subtly.

 

“I… I like that,” she whimpered, “but here.”

 

She pushed another ball of smooshed bread into his mouth, and he chewed thoughtfully, sighing and moaning as he tasted the creamy butter in the center, and he lay back again.

 

“Don’t you dare stop,” he said, laying on his back, folding his arms behind his head.

 

“You’re just the biggest fucking fat cat in the universe,” she observed lowly, pushing another ball of bread into his mouth. He chewed happily on it, and as soon as he swallowed she put another one into his mouth. She found herself making balls of bread with one hand while stuffing them in his face with the other, and oh, she could practically see his belly expandiing.

 

The whole loaf of bread was running low soon, however, and Snape’s eyes were attentive and alert to this fact. Hermione pretended she didn’t notice, never stopping her feeding of him, and just when she stuffed the last ball of bread in his mouth, he began to say something, but she shut him up with a kiss and grabbed her next choice of food from the basket - a large jar of creamy white mozzerella balls with basil and tomato.

 

And with a deft twist, the jar lid was off, and she let her fingers sneak into the sixteen-ounce jar and grab a fistful of the cool, sweet-smelling cheese, and she popped one into his mouth without breaking her pace.

 

“Mmmm,” he whimpered as she successfully stuffed a ball of cheese into his mouth the very moment he swallowed the last of the bread, “you do know how to please a man.”

 

He was so cute, chewing the cheese in the back of his mouth so he could speak (if garbledly), and his entire cheek puffed out, full and stuffed.

 

“I try,” Hermione said, then stuffed another two balls in his mouth as soon as he could swallow the last one, and to her delight he stuffed those in either cheek and chewed them both at once.

 

“I like you with your mouth full,” she purred, kissing him on either cheek, and rubbing the great expanse of his belly. It wobbled, flabby and growing, and it aroused her beyond words.

 

He swallowed again and opened his mouth wide, and she repated the process, and he chewed both balls salaciously.

 

She realized it took him quite a bit longer to chew two at once, however, so she settled back to stuffing him bite by bite once he swallowed those.

 

Soon the cheeses were gone, and Hermione was looking in her own expandable bag for vittles.

 

“Just want to get rid of all the perishables,” she said with a smile as Snape looked at her expectantly, hunger in his eyes despite having eaten so much already. What she brought out of it made him shiver with anticipation visibly, his entire jellylike abdomen jiggling as she showed him what she’d brought.

 

“I’m going to be so fat,” he groaned, opening his mouth, “So very, very fat.”

 

“And you’re going to like it,” cooed Hermione. She’d stolen an entire cake from the Great Hall, and it was one of the most desireable ones, by her estimation. Sweet molten white chocolate frosting topped the thick, fatty, breadlike pound cake, and it was truly enormous, nearly as big as Snape’s gut. It was big enough to feed an entire house.

 

“How on earth are you going to get that thing into me?” he mumbled, as she got a fork from the basket.

 

“Bit by bit, my darling,” she whispered, “how else can you eat an elephant?”

 

He looked at her quizzically, and she replied, “oh, a Muggle saying.”

 

“Someday,” he said with a seductive grin, “I’d like to eat an entire elephant. A nice fat one.”

 

“You can only prepare for that beautiful day by eating every single bite of this cake,” Hermione said, her tongue passing over her lips. She licked some of the scrumptious buttercream icing. “Except for that bit, I guess.”

 

He grabbed his belly from underneath, squeezing his fat through his dark button-down shirt, and he opened his mouth with a moan of hunger.

 

She didn’t need him to ask, and she stuffed an enormous chunk of the cake into his face. The landing wasn’t clean, since she’d overestimated the size of his mouth, and his face was covered with buttercream, but he sucked it down obediently, swallowing and chewing bit by bit until his mouth was empty again, and he licked his lips.

 

“More,” he demanded, and she obeyed, despite the fact that she really wanted to lick the extra buttercream off of his adorable chubby face. He looked like such a glutton, she loved it.

 

But she herself was getting hungry, and so she tore off part of the cake for him and stuffed it in his mouth, but she also stuffed another part in her mouth.

 

He immediately sucked down what she’d put in his mouth, and he murmured “Oh god,” his eyes transfixed on her. “Again.”

 

She responded positively, and took another nice big handful of cake and shoved it down her gullet, same with Snape, and he was rubbing his belly more and more determinedly.

 

“Starting to feel it,” he said with a low rumble, rolling back and forth in an effort to get more comfortable, “but don’t stop. Let’s see how much I can take. Fill me to capacity.”

 

So she proceeded with this goal in mind. She put slice after slice of cake in his mouth, and he swallowed and burped and stuck out his tongue, and huffed and took deep, painful breaths, and then opened his mouth for more.

 

Oh yes, his face was starting to get red, and he was starting to sweat with the effort of chewing and swallowing, and Hermione kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing him to accept bite after bite.

 

But eventually he wasn’t able to any more, and shook his head, lips closed, and he looked about ready to be sick.

 

“You look about done,” Hermione said, and began to gently rub his overstuffed tummy.

 

He groaned with pleasure and pain, but kept his lips tightly pressed together.

 

“You need to rest for a bit,” Hermione said, stroking him fondly. “You just rest. You definitely outdid yourself this afternoon.”

 

He nodded ever so slightly, and his entire stomach rose and fell as he burped a little, making a little bit of room.

 

“Good digestion you’ve got,” she said with a smile, stroking the lower, intestinal part of his belly. “I wonder if there are potions that might help to speed it up?”

 

He didn’t respond, but rolled his eyes.

 

“Oh,” she murmured, “I guess that was a dumb question. Of course there are potions.”

 

He swallowed and rasped, a snail-like smile spreading across his face, “Don’t you think I’m doing enough damage on my own without potions?”

 

“Oh, erm,” Hermione said, chewing her lip, “if you don’t want to try them, then by all means, forget I said anything.”

 

He just gazed at her with blissfully sated eyes, and ever so gently rubbed his belly, careful not to slosh it.

 

“Maybe,” he said, lowly, “I’d like to try sometime.”

 

Hermione gently laid down next to him, both hands gently massaging his gut, and he moaned and shivered with pleasure. Her hands, as they traveled, ran over the line where his trousers cut across his belly, and with a gentle hand, she tucked her hand up his shirt and pulled them down, and undid the belt and buttons. While they’d been perfectly-fitting at the beginning of this afternoon, by now they were just hanging together for dear life.

 

“Oh god,” Snape moaned with pleasure, “oh god.”

 

Hermione’s hands wandered a little bit lower, and found Snape’s hard cock.

 

“You want me to fuck you?” she asked kindly, pulling his pants down and her skirt up.

 

He just nodded, completely relinquishing control of the situation to her.

 

She cast the regular spells and eased herself down onto his cock. It was harder than she’d ever felt it before, and it nearly felt fit to burst itself. His veins were clearly visible in the autumn sun, and his cock was as pink as a rose.

Looking up at him, she admired the way his belly towered over the rest of his body. He looked truly like a beached whale, too fat to get up or even move, but desperately hungry to be pleasured.

 

And pleasure him she would.

 

She peeled apart her labia, drew the clitoral hood, and made sure that her clit rubbed against Snape’s nice fat pubic area, where it was stimulated by the hot, jiggling flesh unlike anything else.

 

Then she started thrusting, relishing the control she had over the way his cock felt in her body, able to get exactly the right angle at any given moment.

 

Snape moaned and moaned. Having come just over an hour before, however, he was not ripe to come again for some time, which Hermione savored.

 

She was quite unexercised in having sex on top, given she mostly pleasured herself lying flat on her back, so it was hard to maintain the stamina, particularly how heavy she was. She thought back briefly to how it’d felt last time she’d been on top, with Ron.

 

Granted, Ron generally liked her to ride him the opposite way, not facing him. She’d been dismayed because she couldn’t see his belly (which was washboardlike and insubstantial, except after Christmas when it was a little more soft than usual). He’d prefered to see only her ass, it seemed like.

 

So she was worn down very quickly and had to take multiple breaks. She stimulated her clit with her fingers as she paused for breath.

 

Finally, Snape growled and patted her on the arse.

 

“You’re too fat and lazy to ride me,” he said, rolling over gently, “I don’t mind. In fact, I like it. Get those untoned thighs over here,” he said, gesturing for her to stand over him.

 

She did, and took off her dres entirely, and lowered herself down until he could lick her cunt, and she could rest her head on his belly. She supported herself on her hands, and her feet both made their own nests in the dirt, but ultimately she was the one supporting herself.

 

And oh, Snape knew how to use his tongue on more than just food. He licked up and down her genital area, seducing her clit with his soft warm wet tongue, so thorough and precise in his movements, sucking and needling her most sensitive spots with the finesse of a Renaissance painter sculpting a beautiful Grecian goddess.

 

And Hermione felt her cervix tense up with pleasure, knotting up and releasing gloriously, and she cried out aloud, not heard by anyone other than the drying flowers, the rippling brook, and her lover.

 

She collapsed on her side on the blanket, exhausted and still exquisitely pleasured.

 

Snape licked his lips, savoring the taste of her juices, and smiled at her. There was an uncommonly beautiful look in his eyes.

 

Hermione took many deep, deep breaths, but wasn’t able to say much of anything. She just touched his belly, which was heaving with every breath he took, and she poked him gently. The fat of his belly rippled, making him moan.

 

“God,” he whimpered, “suck me?”

 

Hermione nodded, and began to ease herself up.

 

But he raised his hand as she propped herself up and prepared to rise.

 

“Wait,” he bid, and gestured for her to scoot closer to him. When she did, he grabbed of of her lovehandles and kneaded it.

 

“You’re getting so fat,” he said with a hushed voice. “All that cake going to your flabby gut. How long will it take for people to notice, do you think?”

 

“People have already begun to notice,” Hermione said, smiling. “Ron was commenting on it last week.”

 

“Yes,” Snape said, with a hiss. “If a Weasley can notice, then it’s definitely not gone unmarked by others in the school. How long will it be, do you think,” he added with a chuckle, “before McGonagall institutes a mandatory physical exercise requirement for all students and staff?”

 

“With my gut growing the way it is,” Hermione responded sweetly, “I’d say no later than New Year’s.”

 

“Yes,” he replied, and gingerly turned himself over so that his belly was no longer facing up, but he was lying on the side. He grabbed her with both hands and started kneading her belly more vigorously. “It’s so flabby,” he said, affectionately, “like dough. So soft. So beautiful.”

 

He reached down and started stimulating his cock, and Hermione had the idea of changing positions so that she was sitting up, and her belly was trapping and stimulating Snape’s cock.

 

It didn’t quite work, since Hermione didn’t really have any drooping overhang to speak of, and therefore very little flexibility in her belly fat,  but she did have boobs, so she turned and put them on either side of his cock and let him fuck them.

 

He ejaculated quickly all over her breasts, and rolled back onto his back.

 

“God,” he murmured, “I haven’t had this much fun, ever.”

 

Hermione wiped herself off with the corner of the blanket and lay down next to him again. “I’m still hungry,” she said, and lay down like he did on the blanket, hands folded behind her head. “My turn to be fed.”

 

“Oh god damn,” he said, sitting up slowly, one hand resting on his enormous and over-stuffed belly. “I’m going to have to wank myself again just looking at you eat.”

 

“What’s taking so long?” she responded coolly, and he shook his head as he stabbed one of the last slices of cake with a fork, and lowered it to her gaping mouth.

 

“Who’s going to get so very fat?” he said, as she moaned with pleasure into the cake. “You are. You’re going to get so fat and round, you won’t be able to move.” He fed her bite after bite, until the remainder of the cake was gone.

 

“What else have we got?” he asked, as he opened her endless bag, one hand resting warmly on Hermione’s belly. She shuddered with pleasure as his fingers moved slightly as he adjusted his body into a more comfortable position.

 

“Oh. Yes. This should do nicely.” He opened  a box of Bertie Bott’s Just the Sweet Ones and tilted it over her mouth, along with a bottle of pop. He poured a little pop into her mouth, then a handful of beans. “Don’t chew, just swallow. Like you’re taking pills.”

 

Hermione did as she was told, opening her mouth and swallowing the beans. It was easier said than done, but she eventually managed to swallow them all.

 

“I need to chew,” she murmured, “I almost choked.”

 

“Sorry.” His face got red with embarrassment. “That’s an elementary mistake.”

 

“Well, it’s not like we’re not both starting to experiment,” Hermione said, “come on, give me some more, but I’ll chew them.”

 

He obliged willingly, though his resilience was not as quick as Hermione’s own. He still appeared chastised, so Hermione tried to help make up for it by emphasizing how good the food was.

 

“Now give me some marshmallow,” she said, “I think there’s some in there.”

 

He found a large jar of it, and he grabbed a spoon. “Just like this?” he asked with a smirk.

 

“Yeah,” she said with a smile.

 

“It’s straight sugar and lard,” he said, nearly crowing with excitement. “It’ll go straight to your growing belly.”

 

“My intentions exactly,” Hermione said, “I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do.” She patted his tummy, so broad and bulgy. “And take your shirt off. I like admiring your careful handiwork.”

 

He nodded, and shrugged off his shirt with some effort. Soon his wobbly belly flopped out, and he grabbed his coat and put it on, though did not button it.

 

“Perfect,” Hermione said, and nodded. “Get that marshmallow and spoon it into my mouth. Quickly now!”

 

He obeyed without a word, and kept her mouth full for the next half hour.

 

Oh! Once they were done! Hermione felt so satiated, bloated, and a little sick. Snape seemed to be better, and was already licking the spoon once Hermione couldn’t anymore, and he was rubbing her tummy in the most gentle and loving of ways.

 

“What time is it?” she mumbled through the stupor of pleasant overwhelming sweetness.

 

He grabbed his wand from the coat’s sleeve-pocket and waved it once.

 

“Nearly time for dinner,” he said, “we’d better leave, lest we miss it.”

 

He was clearly dismayed by this prospect.

 

“Unless,” Hermione said, sitting up as much as she could given her overstuffed belly, “let’s go back to my rooms, or your rooms, or whatever, and sleep this off, then get up and have an excellent feast at midnight?”

 

He smiled, sitting back on his nice fat arse. “Let’s do this.”

 

Hermione was glad that they were magic, because quite simply, if she were a Muggle, she wouldn’t have been able to gather all of their things and get off the hill without taking a nap.

 

Snape, fortunately, was a little more alert than she was, and he guided her in getting dressed again and grabbed her arm to apparate.

 

“Let’s go,” he whispered, embracing her, and he kissed her tenderly on the lips as they whisked away from the hill.

 

………

They arrived back at Hogwarts without any notable events taking place. No one intercepted the groggy, euphoric couple as they walked through the yard. The sun was setting, and the chill was starting to pick up, so they moved as quickly as they could manage.

 

However, as they walked past the Great Hall, Roveric - the younger student Hermione had punished before - saw them walking, arm in arm. His eyes grew wide, particularly as he saw their hands twined together, and he ran off.

 

“Ugh,” Hermione said, “that one’s a troublemaker.”

 

“Never mind him,” Snape said loudly, his voice nearly delirious, “I’m walking with the most beautiful witch in the castle.”

 

“Shh,” she said, but the damage was done. As it happened, Irma Pince showed up, looking even more anemic and thin than Hermione had ever seen her.

 

“What are *you* doing?” she said crisply to the two of them.

 

“What do you think?” scowled Snape, grasping Hermione possessively, “We’re going to bed each other.”

 

“Heavens!” the old witch said with an icy voice, “the scribblers get their just deserts at last. You two deserve each other,” she snapped, “both of you, who could never respect a *single* library book by letting it speak for itself! Scribbles - SCRIBBLES in the margins,” she said, hissing. “How will you like it when life *scribbles* all over you, eh?” she said, and stalked away moodily.

 

Hermione and Snape, so out of it as it was, looked at each other and burst into laughter.

 

“Okay,” Hermione said, nearly choking on her own saliva, “I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one she hates.”

 

“Somehow,” he said in response, “I had no idea there was a staffmember who hated you, aside from me.”

 

“What?” Hermione said, becoming sober all of a sudden. “You hated me?”

 

“-not quite the right word,” Snape said, taking a deep breath. “Found your prodigious skills overrated because you’re a Gryffindor, yes. I got very vociferous in staff meetings telling heads of houses precisely which students of theirs were just as good as you, though granted I was guilty of just a little bit of exaggeration. I had a reputation for dismissing you, actually,” he said, and he seemed taken aback by what he was saying. “Oh. Erm. Well.”

 

She turned to him with ice in her eyes. “You actively made my life harder?” she said.

 

“It wasn’t personal,” he said with a shrug. “I appreciated you, but I wasn’t intimidated by you like most of the other professors on staff. And instead of giving you the credit you were due, I thought it was a good idea to highlight the skills of others who were being overlooked because you outshone them so greatly.”

 

Hermione shook her head. “Let’s talk about this some other time,” she said, “I’m too loopy to think about it.”

 

“That’s fine,” he said, and added, as they continued walking to the staff wing, “I don’t expect you to understand me or forgive me. I’ve been an absolute arse to you most of your life.”

 

“Well,” Hermione said, reflecting for several moments, “I guess I expect you to make it up to me as best you can, now.”

 

They arrived at her bedroom, and Hermione unlocked the door and let them both in.

 

Neither delayed in taking off their clothes and curling up in bed. Hermione only paused to throw some sparks in the fire with her wand, and they both lay down together with the roar of the warm fire to light their path to the bed.

 

Snape lay down and wrapped his arms protectively around Hermione, and laid his face in the nape of her neck.

 

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m such a damnable fool.”

 

She grabbed his hands and put them on top of her growing belly, not saying anything.

 

They lay this way for several moments, and then Hermione noticed Snape was shaking - not pleasurably, but uncontrolledly, with great heaving painful breaths.

 

Then she noticed her skin feeling hot drops of wetness at the back of her neck, then slowly rolling down her back.

 

Snape was crying. Flat-out crying. Silently, holding in his sobs, crying.

 

She turned around immediately, and wrapped her arms around him, and rocked slightly.

 

“It’s okay,” she whispered, “let it out.”

 

He shook his head with a shivering gesture, and Hermione grabbed her wand and cast a brief muffilato spell so that in case any of the neighbors were around, they wouldn’t hear.

 

“It’s all right,” she whispered again, “Everything’s all right. Don’t be afraid to cry. It’s okay.”

 

And then, only then, did he allow himself to sob openly.

 

He took great shuddering breaths, burying his face in her soft shoulder, and the emotional pain was tangible.

 

Hermione just stroked his hair, full of sadness herself, but also puzzled. What had brought on this? Was he just overwhelmed, or was there something more going on?

 

Once he’d gotten out much of the physical elements of his crying, she kissed his forehead and whispered, “Severus? What’s going on in your head?”

 

This brought on another round of sobs, and he wrapped himself more tightly around her.

 

“Come on,” she whispered, grasping him tightly in return, “talk to me.”

 

“I…” he tried to say, but stumbled over his words. “I… I just have an unconscious drive to self-destruct whenever I’m happy for a moment,” he finally managed to breathe out. “Nothing good can stay. If it’s staying longer than expected, I try and destroy it. If someone good is in my life, I try and distance myself. Because I don’t deserve good things,” he said with a sob, his face pinned against her with the salt of his tears, which still flowed down. “I can’t fucking let myself be happy.”

 

“It’s okay,” Hermione said, kissing him tenderly again, “don’t pressure yourself into feeling happy if you’re not happy. And if you’re happy but struggling to remain so, it’s all right. You’re all right. You haven’t destroyed anything.”

 

“But… I have,” he whimpered, and he kept on crying.

 

“What have you destroyed?” Hermione asked gently, but he couldn’t respond. He just couldn’t stop crying, his body was convulsing with sobs and there seemed to be no end to them.

 

“It’s okay,” she whispered over and over again, and finally, peacefully, his crying slowed to a low, murmuring, whimper, with the occasional staccato of a sob.

 

“Shhh,” she whispered, “it’s all right.”

 

She realized the conversation was over when he finally seemed to have fallen asleep.

 

It was mysterious, she thought, as she looked at the beautiful large man with his arms around her, but one that she could explore in the morning.

 

She closed her own eyes and, rocking him gently still, let herself fall asleep.


















Chapter Text

She awoke, and found that the space next to her in bed was unoccupied.

 

Honestly, she wasn’t that surprised. As she’d drifted off to sleep the night before, she had felt that Snape might not be able to handle the embarrassment of revealing his emotions to her. Now she had to think about how to get him back - assuming she wanted him back. Part of her wondered if all of this was really worth it.

 

She got up, draped herself in the dressing gown that he’d given her - it was quite roomy on her, and she wondered what it looked like on his large frame - and went into the main room, clucking her tongue for Crookshanks. She was amused to think that her poor kneazle was probably startled by the goings-on of the night before.

 

She wasn’t expecting Snape to be in her sitting room, darkly staring into his coffee as though bracing himself against a formidable foe.

 

“Hey,” she said, and approached him, extending her hand.

 

His eyes didn’t move, but he did extend his hand, and she took it, and clasped it warmly.

 

“How are you this morning?”

 

“Better,” he begrudgingly mumbled, and he let go of her hand and sipped his coffee. He appeared skeptical of it.

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked, desperate for him to give some kind of explanation.

 

He snorted, her own feelings far too apparent on her face. “Well, *you* clearly want to.”

 

“If you want to,” she replied, and turned to grab some coffee from the pot that he seemed to have brewed on her stove. “Sorry,” she said, grabbing a mug from the counter, “my blend might not be to your taste.”

 

“It’s acceptable,” he said, his tone barely civil, just a hair away from a snarl.

 

She poured herself a mug, found Crookshanks glaring at them both from the safety of the top of the bookcase, poured Crookshanks’ breakfast into a bowl on the floor, and went to join Snape in sitting in front of the fire.

 

“Hungry?” she asked, and he nodded, reluctantly.

 

“Not really,” he said, “but I should have something.”

 

“That’s right,” she said, and gently squeezed his hand. “Do you want to call Lowly, or just want some biscuits?”

 

“Biscuits, for the moment,” he responded, and Hermione got up again and went to the cabinet, where she got out her package of biscuits, and brought them back.

 

“Thanks,” he said, as she pressed one into his hand, and he begrudgingly nibbled it, clearly without an appetite.

 

“So what was all that about?” Hermione said, not willing to wait longer than she had to to get information.

 

He groaned. “What do you *think*?”

 

She didn’t know what to think, so she remained quiet until, with a roll of his eyes, he said, “Lily. Always fucking intruding on everything. I thought it was over,” he said, taking a deep breath, “because I haven’t felt this kind of grief for years now.”

 

He took a deep breath and leaned back against the backrest, and laid his head on the back of the chair, clearly in pain.

 

“I thought this grief was gone forever. That I was Over It. But I think being here... being here has shown me that these... feelings... were just dormant, waiting for me to come back here. Or start having a serious relationship with someone. Or both at the same time.”

 

Hermione nodded. “I don’t understand, but I’m listening,” she said.

 

“Look.” He sat up and looked at her, a kind of fierce anger in his face that wasn’t often there anymore. “When you’re as fucked up as I am, even the slightest thing can twist my mood from *nearly content* to overwhelming despair. I was more disturbed than I let on by seeing those deer on the moors, though I tried my best not to let them bother me.”

 

Hermione nodded, just listening.

 

“Then,” he said, his knuckles white on the handle of his mug, “when we were returning, and I started telling you how I was so privately cruel towards you, I realized I was actively hurting you, even though I didn’t mean to. And that lack of being able to control myself, and use my better judgment… that just brought me back to how I alienated *her,*” he said, his voice lowering, “and I don’t know that I can prevent that from happening with you.”

 

“You can,” Hermione said, “don’t let this kind of thinking write the narrative of your life.”

 

“What kind of advice is that?” he demanded, his face stern, but there was that hidden undertone of vulnerability and fear.

 

He retracted this quickly. “I’m sorry, I know you’re only trying to help.”

 

“I’m not doing a very good job,” Hermione said, and patted him on the shoulder softly. “So, erm, Severus?” (She didn’t feel entirely comfortable using his first name, even at this point. She made eye contact with him and he didn’t snap at her, so she took that as permission.) “I… I have to admire how well you’re able to describe all this and tell me what’s going on. It seems like you’re really self-aware about these issues. I’m really impressed.”

 

He nodded, somber.

 

“I’ve done a bit of work on myself,” he said. “It just hasn’t been enough.”

 

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked, since this was a somewhat curious thing to say. “Work on yourself?”

 

He sighed. “I have a disease, Hermione.”

 

She raised her eyebrows, not sure if he was being metaphorical or not.

 

“If you’re going to tell me you’re a vampire,” she said, when he didn’t say anything, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to believe you.”

 

He chuckled despite his gloom.

 

“No,” he said, “I almost wish that were the case. Then I’d have a chance in a fight with the likes of Remus Lupin.”

 

Hermione looked offended, and he apologized quickly. “Sorry, I knew better than to say that.”

 

“Apology accepted,” Hermione said, gravely.

 

Snape shook his head. “I know that you’ve always been an advocate for integrating Muggle medical concepts into our non-Muggle potions and such,” he said, “so I’m surprised you haven’t spouted out diagnoses for me already. There was that compelling second-year paper of yours that, while too ambitious, neatly laid out a variety of psychiatric disorders that correlated with symptoms of a selection of cursed potions.”

 

“Oh,” Hermione said, and looked at Snape hesitantly. “Honestly, I haven’t thought much about that particular theory at all since.”

 

“Well, I have,” Snape said, “and I think made a damned bit of good sense. Once I left Hogwarts,” he said, “initially I just floundered about, until I got myself the academic position at Oxford I’ve spoken extensively about. I went to a conference in London, and was invited to the United States for a year-long residency.”

 

He smiled vaguely. “I met Erika there, and we hit it off. But she saw how emotionally unbalanced I was,” he went on, “and she insisted I get support for it. Particularly since she specializes in psychopharmacology.” He shook his head. “Even as badly knocked about as my head was, I was so thoroughly twisted around her finger, I did the unthinkable - I went to a psychiatrist.”

 

He paused and took a deep breath, and Hermione gazed at him with fascination.

 

“You did,” she said, when it seemed like he was waiting for a response. “How did that go?”

 

“Well,” he said, and began laughing nervously. “I got a diagnosis of bipolar I disorder, is how that went. And the doctor gave me medication. And I didn’t plan on taking it.”

 

He shook his head. “Then I went back to Erika and complained that the doctor had told me to take medication, which was clearly not the brightest thing to tell someone whose specialty is psychiatric drugs. She listened to me bluster and fester about how I should be able to control my mind by sheer willpower, and how it was an insult to my skills at Occulmency.”

 

“Wait,” Hermione interposed, “You told her about being a wizard?”

 

“Oh,” he said, “Yes.”

 

She looked to him for more answers, and he shrugged. “I don’t want to talk about how and why. It was  a decision that was poorly logical, but all’s well that ends well.”

 

He shook his head to clear the air, and went on, “So she let me ramble about how I was above taking medication, and very simply she asked the question: if I was so successful without medication, would I call my current state of distress ‘success?’ And of course her point was clear. I was ragged and raw, and yet I refused medication that evidence demonstrated might help. So, she said, why not try it, in view of it being an experiment? Worst thing that could happen is that it wouldn’t work.”

 

He paused, putting one hand on top of his belly, and his stomach growled. He took another biscuit and ate the whole thing in a few bites. “And even though I was insulted, I took it.”

 

He sighed.

 

“I hated the side effects, and told them I wouldn’t take it, so they asked me to try another medication, and then another. And then, when neither of those did anything, they put me on lithium.”

 

He paused. “And my brain’s overdrive was finally able to quit. It was almost miraculous. I felt emotionally stable in a way that I’d only ever been able to manage with the heaviest Occulmency, which of course is not sustainable long-term. But somehow,” he said with a clear appearance of joy, “it made a difference that enabled me to feel like I was in control of myself. I could stop my brain from chewing on itself.”

 

“But,” he went on, “there was a major consequence I hadn’t expected: I got fat.”

 

Ah, it began to fit all together in Hermione’s mind.

 

“I was initially deeply embarrassed,” he said, morose. “I even stopped taking medication a few times. But my brain needed it too badly, and ultimately I was better off with the medication. Still is,” he said, with a note of apology. “Though I’m on less than I was back then. In any case,” he went on, “I had a growth spurt, and I stopped taking my shirt off for any reason. And Erika was sad about it,” he mused, “but I… I could imagine her eyes trailing over my body. She and Jean-Raoul are just so disgustingly *fit,* going hiking and jogging everywhere, and I just felt myself becoming a giant ball of blubber.

 

“I don’t think I could have lasted much longer in those conditions, so It was fortunate for us,” he went on, “that I ended up getting a new position in London the following school year, and I went back there, and I felt far more comfortable engaging with her virtually - over the phone and computer. She couldn’t grab my shirt and force me to take it off - which she never did, but I could tell she *wanted* to do - and I had some time alone to get used to my being fat.”

 

“So how did you come to terms with it?” Hermione asked, moving her chair closer to him so she could touch his belly.

 

“I still haven’t completely,” he admitted. “I sometimes see myself in the mirror and think it’s someone else. It’s… it’s unnerving, really. I took such a fierce pride in my leanness for so long. I scorned those who were even slightly pudgy because I felt like they were too soft. And now here I am.”

 

He closed his eyes, and his stomach rumbled again.

 

“There’s not many more biscuits,” Hermione said, and took one for her own stomach, which was beginning to gnaw on itself.

 

“Let’s order, in a moment,” he said, “a nice hearty breakfast. I’m feeling better now,” he added, with a smile. “Quite a bit.”

 

“I’m glad,” Hermione said, “so you still haven’t answered my question.”

 

“Well,” Snape said, taking the last two biscuits greedily, “Erika told me I should try and find someone to date. And after hearing me complain ad nauseum about my weight, she told me that *some women* found fat men attractive. And this… this completely threw me. I demanded proof, and she showed me links that some of her other kink companions participated in. And that opened an entirely new way of looking at it.”

 

Hermione smiled, “erm, links?”

 

“Oh,” he said, and rolled his eyes, but it was more good-natured than complainy. “The internet is composed of links. They take you hither and thither across the net.”

 

“I see.” Hermione clapped her hands - she was getting too hungry to wait any longer - and Lowly arrived.

 

“The regular for me, please,” she said crisply, and Snape also gave his order, keeping his eyes trained on Hermione the whole time.

 

“That’s a lot,” she said once he’d finished ordering.

 

“Not all of it is for me,” he said, grabbing her around her waist and lifting her onto his lap. “Soon, my sweet,” he said, kissing the base of her chin and sucking at her neck, “you’ll be too fat for me to lift like that.”

 

“Soon, *you’ll* be too fat to lift me like that!” Hermione replied with a giddy smile. “So ultimately, Erika both made you fat, and helped you find contentment in being fat.”

 

“I wouldn’t say that, exactly,” he said, “I mean, I was content with being fat - for, indeed, I was enchanted by the pleasure of touching my newfound flesh, and feeling it, and being able to eat with total abandon - aside from the fact that I thought it meant my dating pool would exclude any human creature with senses.”

 

“Well,” Hermione said, “it’s definitely more of a long-term attraction, for me. Though I’ve not been as aware of it as I am now until relatively recently.”

 

She described how she noticed Ron’s tum grow a little bit with each passing season, then grow flat again, and how sad she was once spring training started up again and that nice little bit of pudge would disappear.

 

“I didn’t realize I also liked a podgier self until I realized I’d put on a stone since graduation, and was enjoying pleasuring myself more than I’d ever enjoyed it before,” she said with a smile. “I recall always having enjoyed visualizing big fat bears going into hibernation, since I was a little tyke. But I didn’t make a sexual connection until I realized that shaming myself in front of the mirror for my newfound pounds, that had come on me from years of office work, turned me on.”

 

“I really like your body, by the way,” he added, touching her belly gently. “It’s luscious.”

 

“Thanks,” she replied, “I return the compliment.”

 

His cheeks definitely turned red, and he took a deep breath and kissed her.

 

“I can’t believe I’ve found this,” he said wistfully once their lips parted. “And I don’t want my mind and its games to crush it for us before it’s begun. That’s all I’m saying.”


“I have patience,” Hermione replied, and kissed him again hungrily.

Chapter Text

Food arrived soon, and she began to stuff him with pastries, his usual favorites it seemed, and he sat with his mouth continuously open, chewing voraciously.

 

After a half-dozen crossiants to take the edge off, Snape settled into an enormous omlette of egg and vegetables, made with an entire dozen, laced with an almost-gruesome amount of hard cow’s cheese, and a delicious amount of flabby soft white goat cheese.

 

“That looks utterly delicious,” Hermione said, raising her fork over his plate.

 

He nodded assent, and she took a forkful. It was glorious, one of the finest, softest, chewiest omlettes she’d ever had, and the cheese oozed out of every bite so decadently.

 

“I see this going straight to your thighs,” she said with a laugh, patting his belly approvingly. “This food is so fattening. My mother would have told me it was ‘only for special occasions.’”

 

“Well,” Snape said with a crooked half-smile, “I see the entire rest of my life as a special occasion. I almost didn’t have one.”

 

She didn’t want to say anything, so she just kissed him on the cheek, affirming that, indeed, she was glad he had one too.

 

It was interesting, she thought as she tucked into her own delicious bacon, eggs, and fried potatos, how Snape seemed to wear his heart out on his sleeve sometimes, making his traumatic history into a joke for her to smile at. It was strange but oddly endearing, though it was overwhelmingly tragic when she thought about it. He was coping with it the best way he could, and hearing him poke jibes at his own expense was an unexpected side-effect of being part of his life. She wished he wouldn’t, because it made her feel bad to hear him, but she didn’t really know what the alternative was.

 

At least he didn’t pretend that his experiences had been overwhelmingly positive, in order to fake his way through. Sometimes Hermione felt like she herself was guilty of that.

 

“All right,” he said, shoving his plate away from him suddenly, only half the omlette successfully ensconsed in his belly, “I’m at the place where I’m actually getting full. And right now instead of stuffing myself silly, I think it’s time to pay a little more attention to your body.”

 

He suited the action to the word, and turned his chair to face her.

 

“What?” Hermione said, putting another mouthful of food in her mouth, “but I *like* watching you stuff yourself silly.”

 

“I will, I promise,” he said, “but later. Now,” he went on, putting a hesitant hand on her stomach, “I want to see you grow.”

 

Hermione shivered with pleasure. “I’m already pretty full,” she confessed. “Do you want to try something to help with that?”

 

He paused a moment, calculating.

 

“I don’t, by principle, like the idea of using magic in weight gain,” he said, leaning back and resting a hand on his tummy. “However,” he went on, “very occasional use, consensually, does not bother me the same way that some of the literature that exists on gaining does.”

 

“What other literature?” Hermione asked, taking another stab at her food.

 

“Erm,” he took a deep breath, “erotic literature?”

 

He didn’t seem to want to admit that he’d read any. Hermione just laughed.

 

“Oh. Okay. I guess there’s got to be writing on everything under the sun. I’ve written my own erotic literature a little bit, in my head, but I had no idea that other people actually wrote it down. I just know I’d be so ashamed if anyone found it, that’s why I never have.”

 

“I see,” Snape said carefully. “Well, some of it is *very* arousing, don’t misread me, but some of it is very *clearly* something that most people would prefer to remain in fantasy, not reality.”

 

“Like what?” Hermione demanded. Now, granted, she could *imagine* what he was talking about, but she also *really* wanted to hear him articulate it in his dark, sensuous voice.

 

He paused, seemed uncomfortable for a moment, and then said, “The other day, when we were fucking, you talked about imagining being… being so fat you could not move from your bed… Some people actually aspire for this,” he said with a flush of redness, “and others just write stories. In truth, I would probably not want such a reality.”

 

He swallowed dryly. “I admit that I’m scared, however. And what scares me is: I don’t know that I can entirely rule it out.”

 

Hermione nodded. “So you don’t know that this is something you don’t want,” she said, slowly.

 

“For me,” he said, with a nod, “it’s mostly about being able to eat, and eat, and eat, and never have to stop. And so in some ways, size does not matter - as long as I am able to eat until my belly is satisfied and overstuffed to the most pleasurable extent possible.  However,” he went on, “I cannot, in good conscience, accept a reality where I’m chained to a bed and force-fed a slush of weight gain powder and cream all day.”

 

“That’s not something I’d like for you, or any partner,” Hermione said with a gentle kiss at the corner of his mouth. “Even if that’s what they wanted - I mean, I might try it as a scene in the bedroom,” she said, contemplating it, “but not for a permanent state of affairs.”

 

“I… I’d also try it as a scene,” he said with a whisper that revealed how nervous he was, but how titillating he found the idea.  He sighed, drawing his hair back from where it crowded his face. “Well. I’m glad we’re on the same page,” he added, and smiled a little more fully. “So, Hermione,” he said, his voice getting darker and more tempting, “I’ve got a couple of potions here, and I’d like to try them on you, if I may.”

 

“Mmm,” Hermione said, putting both hands on her belly, which bulged out in front of her after having eaten her whole plate - and then started tackling Snape’s leftovers besides. “I’m incredibly stuffed,” she confessed, “so unless you’ve got something that would help with that…”


“Yes,” he said and drew from out of his robe-pocket a small zippered pencil pouch, which he opened and revealed a series of vials. He looked at each of the labels closely, and then chose one, and gave it to Hermione.

 

“Six drops in your water,” he instructed her, “and drink it all. Now.”

 

She obeyed. The bottle was not well-used, but it had been clearly tried before - it was not freshly sealed.

 

“Your creation?” she asked, and he nodded. “What does it do?” She added it to her water and swirled it around.

 

“Drink it,” he said with a smile, “and you’ll feel.”

 

She obeyed, and at once she felt the tightness of her belly reduce as soon as the potiion landed in it. Her appetite perked up in a second wind, and she felt like her belly could swallow another couple of pints of food.

 

“So,” she said, and paused, “let me guess, it’s something that accelerates the enzymatic breakdown of the food in my belly?”

 

“No,” Snape said with a smug smirk. “Opposite effect. It’s not the amount in your stomach that gets smaller - for what then would the point of stuffing be? - but your stomach’s natural rebuilding mechanisms are accelerated to stretch and make more room around the food. But beware,” he added, and unbuttoned the bottom few buttons of his shirt, and showed her a series of oddly-congruent stretchmarks that seemed to be of the same age and lustre. Running his thumb over them, he said, “I got these from a single testing. It will be tempting to overstuff yourself beyond a place of comfortable fullness. Don’t overdo it, or you will regret it.”

 

“Oh phooey,” Hermione said with a laugh, with one hand pulling the rest of Snape’s meal in front of her, with her other raising Snape’s shirt so she could admire his vast tummy better. “How on earth do you expect me to catch up to you in size without getting a few lines on my belly? In fact,” she added, blushing slightly, “I’d consider them badges of honor. Scars of the battle.”

 

In response, he lifted up her nightshirt - she hadn’t gotten dressed - and touched her creamy white belly. “I’d just hate for this to get as scarred as mine,” he said, and bent down awkwardly and kissed her smooth white skin. “I want you to get fat for me, but not at the expense of-”

 

“-Too fucking bad,” Hermione cut him off with a snap.  “I think the marks are sexy, frankly. And it’s my body, so it’s going to look as scarred as I please. You’ve already given me the reigns, dear Severus, don’t you fucking try and take them from me now.”

 

She tucked into the omelette with new relish, and within a very few minutes it was completely gone.

 

“Glad we over-ordered,” she said with a smirk, as Snape watched with overwhelming fascination, and she stood and grabbed the tier of muffins and breakfast cakes. “I’m going to eat every single one of these.”

 

She then proceeded to sit her nice, plump rear down in her chair, and she stacked her plate high with muffins and cakes. Snape mutely grabbed a bowl of Chantilly cream and brought it to her elbow.

 

“Thanks,” she said kissing him on the cheek. “Now are you going to feed me, or not?”

 

He seemed to get over his reluctance, replying, “Fine,” and he took a toasted muffin, coated it in a thick layer of butter, topped it with delicious rosehip jam, and Hermione’s mouth grabbed it out of his hand as swift as a cat grabbing a mouse.

 

He gave her another muffin when she was done eating the first one, and then gave her a bit of a cake topped with an enormous dollop of Chantilly cream.

 

“That’s exquisite,” she whispered with a whimper, and then Hermione then hungrily tried to eat the entire bowl of cream.

 

Snape watched her, transfixed, as she took spoonful after spoonful.

 

Eventually it became too much for her, and she looked around for something to take the rich edge off the cream. Snape accommodated her and took some strawberries, which he then dipped into the cream and put into her waiting mouth.

 

She swallowed every bite with determination and grace. She had, after all, signed up to stuff herself a second time.

 

By the time she finally stopped, there was nothing left on the table that was edible - and her belly had tripled in size. It hung out in front of her, wobbling and sloshing, and angry red stretchmarks had made their home on her skin.

 

Snape did not seem as disgusted by them as he’d imagined, as he ran his hands over her belly gently, ever so gently.

 

“Did you outdo yourself completely,” he asked, cautious, “or did you add more than six drops to your water?”

 

Hermione shrugged.

 

“Twelve drops,” she said, cracking a smile.

 

He firmly frowned, but ran his fingers all up and down her stomach, sensuously taking in the size she’d swelled up to.

 

“You’ve always been ambitious,” he said with begrudging admiration. “Now if I’m not mistaken, you’ll be needing this.”

 

He opened the pouch of vials again and withdrew another vial. “Take twenty four drops of this and put it on your tongue,” he said, “and don’t adjust the dosage.”

 

Hermione was beginning to feel an enormous tummyache, the like of which she’d never felt before, and it was not at all pleasurable. She nodded and took the vial, and applied the drops to her tongue, and the pain reduced significantly, leaving her feeling only immensely - *immensely* - fat.

 

“Can you stand?” he asked, standing himself and offering his hand to her.

 

Hermione nodded, and with his help she stood, though she was tremendously off-balance.

 

“Sorry,” he added, “your balance issue is a side effect. Can’t be avoided, at least for the moment. But how is the pain?”

 

Hermione smiled bravely. “Ooof. I feel like I should only have taken six drops.”

 

“I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” he said, encouraging Hermione and her engorged belly to the bedroom. “The pain is not proportional to the amount you ate. I’m glad you stopped when you did, though,” Snape went on, assisting her in sitting on the bed, “I know it is possible for the stomach to become overtaxed, and split open, so I beseech you to be gentle with yourself for the next several hours.”

 

“Understood,” Hermione said, smiling. “Does that mean you won’t fuck me?”

 

She lay down on the bed and wiggled invitingly, both hands perched protectively on her belly.

 

Snape grabbed her hand and placed it on his trousers, where his cock lay, and she felt it straining against his pants, as hard as a rock.

 

“With great reluctance,” he answered, and with that, he shoved the nightshirt up Hermione’s belly, and, with practiced movements, he separated her legs and stuck his tongue up her cunt, laying on his belly on the bed.

 

She writhed and swore as he tasted her, she who was already so wet that her nightshirt was damp, and he kneaded and stroked her belly with one hand even as he licked and sucked at her clit and labias.

 

Finally she couldn’t take anymore, and he stripped off his own clothes and, without preamble, stroked himself until he came in his hand.

 

Breathless, he lay back with her on the bed, and did not protest as she unbuttoned his shirt.

 

“Look,” she said, sitting back and stroking her belly, “I’ve got marks now, too, and they match yours.”

 

He nodded, and as his shirt separated and revealed his massive rolling tummy, he rubbed his own belly for a few moments, though eventually he couldn’t resist touching her all over.

 

“You are so big,” he said admiringly. “So very big.”

 

After a few moments’ quiet, he added, “So how far do you want to go?”

 

“How far what?” Hermione asked, with a laugh.

 

He appeared somber, but his cheeks were flushing red.

 

“I mean,” he said with a smile, “what’s your end goal? How fat do you want to get?”

 

Hermione felt her face turn red as well.

 

“I… erm… I don’t know,” she confessed. “How about we re-evaluate in a month or two, once it’s no longer such a novelty to eat myself into oblivion with a sexy assistant like you?”

 

Snape nodded. “Understood,” he said with a twisted smile. “I, for myself, also need some time to think about it.”

 

They sat there listening to the silence of the room, breathing heavily together.

 

“By the way,” Hermione asked, “how much do you weigh right now?”

 

Snape paused. “I believe I am in the vicinity of three hundred and some-odd pounds. If I were taller, it’d look like less, I suppose, but on my frame, I’m more likely to look plumper than not.”

 

“We need to see for sure,” Hermione said, and waved a spell at him. The charm made him glow blue for a moment, and then the number ‘324’ hung in the air, followed by the image of a disapproving Vogue-esque witch with the caption, ‘Getting far too ample in the region of your tum-tum,’ and a list of recommendations for weight loss.

 

Snape was appalled by the charm, and his jaw dropped in disbelief.

 

“What?” Hermione asked, trying (but failing) to sit up to see his face better. “Was that not what you were expecting?”

 

He shook his head, “No,” he said, peering at the woman’s face. “No, that is *not* what I was expecting.”

 

“I’m not surprised, though,” Hermione said, moving and grabbing a handful of his delicious belly fat. “Three-hundred seemed a *trifle* low.”

 

“No,” he said staring at the witch in disbelief. “That’s not what I’m talking about. What on earth is that charm?” He grimaced. “It’s wretched.”

 

“Oh,” Hermione said, “It’s something I thought all the girls used in the dormitories. One of the Patil twins taught it to me. Is there something wrong?”

 

He looked at her askance. “Erm. *Yes,*” he snapped. “Is… is that *really* what they use in the dormitories?”

 

“I suppose so,” Hermione said, a bit taken aback. “Why?”

 

He shook his head. “I don’t like this. Do it again,” he said, and pointed at the bare coat rack across the room. “Try it on that.”

 

Hermione did, not quite sure what Snape was getting at.

 

The surly witch glared a little bit less as it covered the coat rack. “Quite good, quite good, but don’t forget to exercise,” read the caption, and the witch looked a touch less dismayed.

 

“Gods,” Snape said, and shook his head. “How demoralizing. Gods.”

 

Hermione cast it on herself, and saw the familiar tut-tut face on the witch, accompanying the caption, “Better had leave off the sweets, dearie, they’re starting to show around your middle.”

 

“I was so excited the day my ‘scope changed from ‘Think about trimming down your portions for a more svelte figure’ to this,” Hermione said with a smile.

 

Snape just shook his head, his jowls swaying. “And this is what you girls think of to torture yourselves with after hours?” he said with disapproval on his face.

 

“Well,” Hermione said, “I haven’t thought of it that way, but yes.”

 

He sat up laboriously on the edge of the bed “I’m banning this charm,” he said, “at least from my house.”

 

“My dear,” Hermione said, “Reginald Floss is head of Slytherin, now.”

 

Snape clearly had forgotten, and he sank back down onto the bed as he was reminded.

 

“Shit,” he said, and, rolling his tongue thoughtfully, he added, “I wish I had power again.”

 

Hermione turned herself over gently, slowly, so as not to pressure her belly. “Well, you can fix that here, if you want to,” she said with a wry smirk.

 

He swatted her - playfully? yes, playfully. Severus Snape was being playful. *The wonders never cease,* Hermione thought as she smiled at him.

 

“You know what I mean,” he rumbled, and he sat up again, eased himself out of bed, and went to the other room. He came back with a large package of crisps and a bowl of ice cream big enough to stuff him again.

 

“It’s a bit early for ice cream, isn’t it?” Hermione teased him with glee as he took spoon after spoon of it.

 

He shook his head. “And when do you think that will *ever* bother me?” he said fiercely, growling into it.

 

She laughed and watched him eat, though she extended her tongue for a bite or two herself.

 

“I love watching you,” she whispered, “I know that it’s all just going into that nice deep gut to make it spread out a little more, inch by inch. How much do you think you’ve got there?” she added as she burped a little, making more room to swallow another couple of bites.

 

“Something in the vicinity of three pints,” he said, and shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s magic food, it doesn’t come in boxes. Isn’t it odd how Muggle food comes in boxes? I never realized how odd it was until I was an adult.” He shook his head.

 

“Anyhow,” he said, once he was slowing down, “I think I could get up to about five hundred pounds before I’d think about…slowing my intake.”

 

Hermione nearly came right at the thought. “You, five hundred pounds,” she said, and began to reach for her clit. It was a bit awkward to reach, with her belly in the way, but she managed it. “I can see it.”

 

“Though I’m fairly sure,” he went on, getting more comfortable on the bed and letting his gut wobble ominously in front of him, “I would not be happy if, at any weight, I was unable to get my cock inside your fat, fat cunt.”

 

Hermione nodded passionately. She knew that would be a dealbreaker for her as well.

 

“So, until that point,” Snape said, rubbing his belly to ease some of the stuffing pain, “I’d be content.”

 

“Of course we’re not talking about health at all, here,” Hermione said, feeling sober for the first time in this conversation.

 

Snape looked at her dead on.

 

“Hermione,” he said, “you should think about that for yourself, and yourself only.”

 

He took another heaping spoonful of ice cream. “I want you to know this,” he said, his voice very low and dangerous, “I’m done supervising my health. My life and health were both sworn to Dumbledore for so long, I’m pleased to finally have the freedom to trash my body if I want to. I don’t have to think about anyone except my own sorry arse, and my own sorry arse gets turned on by eating until I’m fit to burst, so that’s what my sorry arse will get.”

 

He shook his head. “I don’t have to worry about staying healthy to protect Lily’s child. He’s an adult. My role in his life is done. I don’t have to worry about protecting the school, or anyone else. My role as a protector is over. I will not be Mad-Eye Moody,” he went on, “screaming in kids’ ears to get them to stop dawdling in the halls. I will not be waiting for the Dark Lord to come back. Because he won’t.”

 

He took a deep breath, and glanced at her. She was looking at him empathetically.

 

“Listen,” he went on, “I don’t ask for you to understand, I just ask for you to not bother me about it.”

 

“All right,” she said, but he went on, turning to her and looking deeply into her eyes.

 

“I’m going to get obscenely fat, and I’m probably die because of it. And I don’t give a flying fuck.” His face, growing white, revealed his emotions, even though he was continuing to stuff his face,

 

“I don’t give a flying fuck about your feelings at all in this regard.” He shook his head. “Am I eating myself to death? Maybe. But that’s my choice to make.”

 

He took a deep heaving breath, and finished off the ice cream. “So bring on diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol. If Slughorn could make it to whatever ridiculous age he’s made it to, then that probably bodes well for me. I’m hoping my wizard blood is better than that of my father.”

 

He sighed. “But even if it doesn’t,” he said, trembling with emotion, “well, that’s on me. And I reserve the right to choose to live in such a way that I could potentially die of a heart attack at fifty.”

 

Hermione had to think for a moment about all this. Didn’t he value her, and living with her to a ripe old age?

 

Of course she realized she was jumping the gun a little, but still!

 

“Moreover,” he added, reading her face, “I ask you not to take this personally.”

 

“I’m trying not to,” she said, nodding, but still struggling. “But, I mean… don’t you want to live a life for yourself? You were telling me about your tendency to self-destruct… don’t you think this might be part of that?”

 

“I’m sure it is,” he said grimly, “self-sabotage or what-have-you. I’m not going to examine it too closely. But whatever. I’m done. I’ve made enough marks on the world. If I died tomorrow, I’d die happy.”

 

He put down the bowl, and added, “I hope you can live with my ambiguous feelings about life. If not, I understand.”

 

Hermione shook her head. “I mean,” she added, “I hope that eventually you won’t feel like you’ve spent all of your life that is worth spending, and that eventually you won’t feel like caring for your health isn’t an obligation you have to make to others, but a chore like brushing your teeth - just good hygiene to protect yourself.”

 

She paused. “I’d like you to feel that you’re worth it, and that your life is worth it.”

 

“Well,” he said, rolling his eyes, “I don’t feel that way now.”

 

“Yeah,” she said, and she leaned towards him and kissed his cheek. “Maybe someday you will. And I hope I can see you live to the fullest, until then.”

 

“Fine,” he said, though his cheeks were red. “As long as you let me eat myself into an early grave if I so choose.”

 

“Agreed,” Hermione said, and she gingerly wrapped her leg around his. “I can scarcely contain my excitement for you to weigh over five hundred pounds,” she said giddily, “You’d be a full meal for the Giant Squid instead of just a tasty snack.”

 

“If that’s the scale you’re using,” Snape responded teasingly, “you’re scarcely a nibble at the moment.”

 

“Mm,” Hermione said, “I can’t wait to be a full meal myself.”

 

Snape looked at her hungrily. “How are you feeling at the moment? Still stuffed?”

 

Hermione poked and prodded her tummy. “There’s a little room in there.”

 

“Good,” he said, and pulled his trousers and pants off. “Then let me finally get my cock inside you.”

 

“Ooh,” she whimpered, and they started having marvelous sex, which I’m going to save until next chapter.



Chapter Text

He stuffed his cock inside her, and she felt her body move underneath her belly - or was it her belly that moved above her body? Either way, something moved, and her belly sloshed vigorously up and down as he thrust into her, over and over.

 

She felt the feeling of his nice fat package, and relished it, as well as the feeling of his nice fat pubic area hitting up against her clit. Oh, it was a magical feeling. It was better than she imagined, and she felt fuller than she ever could have anticipated.

 

"You're so juicy," she purred as he moved, his efforts slow and accompanied by his heavy breathing.

 

"I'm unexercised, is what I am," he said, panting. "And too stuffed to do a properly good job."

 

"Shut up," she whimpered, "you're blowing my mind."

 

"Oof," he responded, and readjusted his belly so that it was resting on top of hers instead of jamming against the underside of hers. "That's a bit better."

 

She squirmed with delight as his landings got better and better contact. "You're so nice and plump," she whimpered, "I love it. I really don't think I could go back to a thin man. Not possible."

 

Snape's face - she was watching it, despite the fact that she was closing her eyes with almost every delicious thrust he made into her - was impassive.

 

"Okay," he said, as she started to feel his sweat drip onto her body, "you, turn over. On your knees." He withdrew from her, and kept stroking. His cock was hard and soaking wet, from the curls at the base of the pillar to the tip of his phallus, which was throbbing visibly.

 

Hermione wasted no time getting into position, and she felt like an enormous fat cow, on her hands and knees, her belly hanging down. At least it was unrestrictive, and she was able to take deeper breaths than she was able to in the other position.

 

"I'm going to enter you from behind," he said, and she felt the bed jostle under them as he moved himself into a different position. She felt his cock slip into position, and his belly rest heavily on top of her growing fat arse, and she felt full and wet.

 

"I like this," she said with a whimper, as he thrust into her, or at least tried to. Unfortunately, the position did not work altogether well for him, and he wasn't able to really stuff himself inside her.

 

"All right, I give up," he said with a huff, "I'm too fat to fuck you from behind."

 

"Really?" she asked, and then added, "That's pretty hot."

 

"I'll show you pretty hot," he said with a growl, and he wrestled her down onto the bed, and sat his wide arse on her pubic area, stroking himself and looking off into the distance.

 

The applied pressure was actually incredibly sexy, and Hermione nearly screamed with the feelings that populated her cervix.

 

"Okay," he said, moving too soon, "let's try something else. Tell me if you don't like something and we'll stop."

 

"Understood," she said with a whimper.

 

With that, he waved his hand, and Hermione found herself floating above the bed.

 

Snape got off the bed and stood next to it, and adjusted Hermione in the air until she was exactly perpendicular to his cock. Then he flipped her over in the air so her tummy was hanging down.

 

"There we go," he murmured as he slid inside her again from behind, this time unobstructed. "Just needed a different position."

 

"You're too fat to fuck me from behind without using magic," Hermione whimpered, "that's incredibly hot."  

 

"Just a position thing," he said testily, and his hips started moving in a way that made her almost forget how to say words.

 

"Oh fuck," she breathed, grabbing onto the nearest pillow until her knuckles were white. "I can't even. This is so great."

 

He was on a fast-track to finishing up, so she wasn't surprised when he came inside her and pulled out, panting and dripping wet.

 

"That was amazing," she breathed as he gently let her down from the position.

 

He nodded, and wiped his face, then lay his body over hers, his cock nesting near the top of her arsecrack, his chubby breasts creating warm wet spots on her back, and his belly squeezing against her with the heaviness of a boulder but the softness of a blanket.

 

"You're so fucking beautiful," he whispered, and kissed her neck, and nestled his face in her hair.

 

"Thanks," she whispered, "but on my too-full tummy, I can't be in this position."

 

"Oh," he whispered back, and rolled off swiftly. "Sorry about that. I like laying on my full belly sometimes."

 

"I just don't have enough of a belly to do that very comfortably yet," she replied, and she turned over so that her distended stomach faced the ceiling again. "But gods. You fill me up so well."

 

"So well that you won't fuck a thin man again?" he replied with a smirk.

 

Hermione blushed deep red. "Well, don't hold me to my words, particularly with recent developments moving along, but I want you to know that, without a doubt, you're the most satisfying fuck I've ever had."

 

"So glad to hear it," he said, sounding somewhat amused, and he moved his entire body close to her and laid a hand on her belly. "It was a mistake to have that potion, you know," he said, rubbing along the stretch marks on her belly. "You will scarcely be able to keep up with your hunger now."

 

She laughed. "You seem to have been able to."

 

"Yes," he said, rubbing his own belly with his other hand, "but I'm a full-time researcher. I never have to perform for students - I can eat whenever I want, provided it's not interrupting some crucial part of the brewing process. And as you know," he said with a smirk, "a good part of brewing is waiting. I admit I rarely let a potion simmer without stuffing something in my fat face, these days."

 

Hermione nodded. "I'll take that under consideration," she said. "What do you recommend I do to help with the situation?"

 

"Keep a stock in your drawer," he said, "you'll feel famished, but at least you can withdraw to get something in your tum when you can't bear it anymore."

 

He added, "At least that's what I'd do. Slughorn, as you know, rarely deigned to be so professional. Particularly in my days as a student, he would sit there eating an entire bulk-sized bag of chocolate frogs during class, and then get up just as excited as the rest of class about lunchtime."

 

Hermione laughed. "Speaking of food, where did those crisps go? I thought you brought in a bag."

 

"So I did," he replied amicably. He sat up, and grabbed them from where they were on the nightstand. "I find them somewhat laborious to eat, and they’re potatoes (which I despise), but I suppose you like them if you keep them in your kitchen."

 

"That I do," she said with a smile.

 

She opened them, and Snape passed a hand over the bag after she'd taken a handful - and suddenly they were gone.

 

"Where'd they go?" she asked, and she saw that he was laying a hand on his belly, rubbing it where it was slightly more distended.

 

"In my belly," he said with a smirk. "Simple thing to put them there. Basic transport spell. And moreover, the bigger your stomach, the easier it is to target it."

 

"Let me try," she said, and he raised a hand to stop her.

 

"Feel around for the boundaries of your organs, first," he said. "I'm well-practiced in it, but you don't want to accidentally put a bunch of crisps in your liver."

 

"All right," she conceded, and she let her fingers feel around her abdomen. She wasn't able to make much sense of it, but Snape grabbed her fingers and soon they were tracing the borders of her stomach, as well as she could feel it through the nice layer of fat that she'd been accumulating.

 

"Now," he said, "there it is. You want to try and feel it regularly, just in case it moves. Now, go ahead and try."

 

Hermione waved her wand over the chips, and suddenly felt the little bit of room in her tummy get immediately full.

 

"They just go in there whole," he said with a smirk, "so you want to wait a bit before your next attempt, so as to let them dissolve into mush."

 

"I prefer eating them directly, I think," she said with a grimace. "I don't like to have to wait."

 

He grinned. "Suit yourself, you fatty."

 

She grinned in response, and she stuffed her face with a full handful of crisps. "They're so good," she whimpered. "Feed me?"

 

"With pleasure," he responded. "I actually can't stand them, but I'll happily feed them to you."

 

"More for me," she murmured, leaning back.

 

He grabbed another handful and stuffed it in her mouth, but then his mouth wandered down to lick and suck at her clit as she chewed.

 

"Actually," she said, as he began to move his head, "I'll feed my own fucking face. You keep on doing what you're doing."

 

"Yes, my dear," he said with a crooked smile, and he continued to nip, lick, suck, taste, and otherwise enthrall her lower regions.

 

"Only thing is," he said after she felt her body come at least three times, "I wish eating you out had a caloric component to it. It certainly tastes sweet enough that it should. I'm afraid I expend more than I gain, however."

 

"Easily remedied," Hermione said after swallowing. "Did you eat all of the ice cream?"

 

She was interrupted by the sound of something in the closet that sounded like something falling. She looked at Snape, and he looked just as puzzled as she did.

 

"Yes," he said, "at least I believe so." He got up and opened the closet door.

 

Gingerly, he pushed back Hermione's clothes in either direction, but didn't reveal anything other than several items of clothing that had fallen on the floor from their hangars.

 

"Is this normal?" he asked, a sharpness in his eyes as he scanned the rest of the room.

 

"Oh, yeah," Hermione admitted. "I'm not the best steward of my clothing."

 

"That's fine," Snape said, then shook his head, picked up his wand, and cast a few new wards. "I'll see if there's anything else like ice cream in your ice box," he said, and went to the other room.

 

He came back with a raised eyebrow and a whole second bowl of ice cream.

 

"You have a magic icebox?" he asked, "because this wasn't there before."

 

Hermione sat up and shook her head. "Not that I know."

 

"Hmm," Snape said, and looked around the room again.

 

They sat in silence for several minutes, but finally it was clear that nothing was going to come of it, so Snape shrugged.

 

"Tell me what you intend to do with this," he said with a salacious smile.

 

"I'll show you," she said, and she felt the area around her cervix, and then passed her hand over the bowl of ice cream. Some of it disappeared.

 

"Oh shit," he said, and Hermione spread her legs.

 

His entire face was alight. "That's brilliant."

 

"Eat up, Severus," she said, "it's dripping already."

 

He didn't need to be told twice, and he dropped himself to lick and suck with the frenzy of a shark eating a fat, fat seal.

 

The cold ice cream was strangely delicious to feel in her vagina, and she'd never felt so perfectly full there.

 

"I'm going to have to make this a regular thing," she said with a whimper. "Serving ice cream out of my vag."

 

"No complaints here," he murmured, looking up at her, licking his lips. His entire face was slick with ice cream and vaginal juices. He looked utterly blissful. "This is really fucking great."

 

"Flavored by your own cum, I suppose," Hermione mused.

 

This was not something he'd considered, and he paused a moment, until saying, "Whatever. As close to autofellatio as I'll get these days."

 

They both found themselves laughing at that, until he noticed a bit of melting ice cream getting away, and he went back to his ardent licking.

 

 

Chapter Text

After they grew tired of their sexual play, they fell into a dreamy napping state, where Hermione flitted in and out of sleep, and Snape lay there reading a book he had accio'ed from his chambers, one hand propping up his chin, the other resting against Hermione's tummy and holding his book. He was wearing thick-framed reading glasses, which made him look incredibly sharp, even nude as he was.

 

"I didn't know you wore glasses," she whispered groggily. "You should wear those more often."

 

He smiled disbelievingly and pecked her lingeringly on the lips. "What, is this something else you're secretly attracted to?"

 

"Not necessarily," she purred as his finger lingered under her chin. "Just looks good on you, that's all."

 

He grunted in reply, not otherwise responding, and turned from laying on his side to laying facing the ceiling, but scooted his voluptuous butt closer to her to make up the difference in distance.

 

It was a warm and comfortable place to be. Rain started to fall against the glass panes of the windows, accompanied by thunder and lightning.

 

Hermione shivered, as it got somewhat colder in the castle, and the castle was making its usual cracking noises as it adjusted to the change of air pressure that accompanied the storm. In response, Snape pulled the covers closer over her and moved closer to her, warming her with his nice fat body. The softness of his belly, heavy arms, and torso was inviting, and Hermione squeezed against him pleasurably.

 

She knew he would want to eventually leave, and though he was engrossed in his book, eventually Hermione's belly growled.

 

"You hungry?" he asked, and she nodded. "Gods." He sat up and drew the covers back from his legs, and as Hermione's stomach gurgled again, she saw his cock twitch despite itself.

 

He eased himself up and went into the other room, then came back with a loaf of bread, yogurt, hazelnut spread, and jam. He was grinning wolfishly, and his cock was nearly erect.

 

“Seeing you so full and fat turns me on so much,” he said. He crawled onto the bed, and Hermione, with her legs under the covers, spread her legs so he could get as close to her as possible to feed her. He clambered close to her and let his enormous arse seat itself right there. “Open wide, my sweetheart,” he said with delight, and spooned a nice heaping spoonful of yogurt and jam into her mouth. She swallowed and opened her mouth for more, to which he eagerly responded by giving her another spoonful, and another.

 

“Let me know when you’re no longer hungry,” he said with a glint in his eye, and Hermione knew he was challenging her.

 

She finished off the yogurt with no sign of stopping, and Snape grabbed the loaf of bread and slathered jam and nutella spread on it.  

 

"Here you are, my sweet," he said, easing a slice into her waiting mouth. "That's a good girl."

 

She chewed and swallowed, then gestured for more.

 

Several slices slipped down her throat, and finally she was replete, and she sat back on the bed.

 

"So," she said, letting her tongue wander around her lips, tidying up, "I'm going to have to kick you out. I've got some work to do."

 

"Understood," he said, and he leaned in and kissed her fiercely. He withdrew from her at the precise second she was about to renege on her request and demand he stay and kiss her more. He could tell he had just perfectly underplayed his hand, and he gave her a solemn second kiss for good measure.

 

"I'll be busy for the next few hours, I think," he said, casting a wandless wave at his clothes, which of their own accord flew onto him. "But if you'd like company later this evening, I might be of a mood."

 

Hermione smiled and sat back, watching him dress. He still had that grace of a martial artist, even as fat as he'd gotten, and the way he moved his hands even in these simple acts of dressing just delighted her.

 

"Later," she murmured, as he went over to the window to look out of it.

 

"Later," he said, and opened the window.

 

"What are you doing?" she asked as he got on the stool next to the window. He shrugged, and stepped out the window into the wet day.

 

She gasped, and leaped out of bed, not knowing what to expect, but he suddenly reappeared, thoroughly soaked from head to toe, with a rose in his hand.

 

It was a very pretty rose, but it didn't quite make up for the moment of panic that preceded it.

 

"You rascal," she said, and swatted at him. "How'd you do that?"

 

He didn't say anything, and stepped back into the room. "Sometime I'll teach you," he said as his only response, drying himself off with a spell from his wand.

 

Then, as she looked at him aghast, he scooped her back into his arms and kissed her fiercely one last time, then strode out of the room, shaking his long wet hair.

 

Hermione ran to the window, looked down, and saw that there was no possible way he could have done that if he hadn't...

 

"You can *fly!*" she cried, and raced after him. "You know how to fly?"

 

"Maybe," he said, teasing, "well, it's more like controlled falling for me, these days. But," he went on, with a sniff of contempt, "you said yourself, you have work to do."  

 

"Oh, fine," she said, with an immense pout. "I'll stay up late and time-turn until I get everything done."

 

"Why do that," he mused, "when you can just time-turn now, and get your work done in half the time with this incentive?"

 

"Fine!" she responded, throwing her hands in the air and rushing to her desk. "You could have chosen a better day for it, is all."

 

"I like this weather," he said, standing at the window. "It's dreary, but calming. So English."

 

He turned around and saw, to his evident surprise, that she was holding a stack of completely graded papers.

 

"I demand a lesson," she said with a fierce tone. "Now."

 

"That was quick, Granger," Snape said with a look of approval. "Now, come here."

 

She grabbed an umbrella from where it lay discarded under the coat-rack, and only once she was thus armed did she allow him to grab her in a tight embrace.

 

He picked her up slightly, testing her weight, and then he nodded with satisfaction.

 

"Hold onto me," he whispered into her ear, and he escorted them both onto the stool at the window, then he stepped onto the sill.

 

The gardens of Hogwarts lay below them. Hermione was glad she'd never had much in the way of vertigo, since this was incredibly high up off of the ground.

 

Her view was a truly spectacular one, especially when she was reminded of its beauty with the windows being open.

 

"Going now," he said with a rumbling voice, and he stepped off the ledge, holding her close against his soft belly.

 

The rain wasn't too heavy right then, just a fine mist of wetness, and they sank slowly, like a balloon losing air.

 

"This is beautiful," she said, "How did you learn to do this? This is... quite the Mary-Poppins feat."

 

"Never heard of her," he said with a shrug, "it's a trick that's not widely known, I'll grant you."

 

They landed on a stray rooftop to let their ears adjust to the change in air pressure.

 

"It's like swimming," Hermione observed, "except everything is water."

 

"I've heard it described that way before," Snape mused in response, though there was an edge of steel in his voice. Regrets were there, it sounded like.

 

Before she could ask what memories lay underneath that emotion, Snape's lips were on hers, and she was happy to feel them. The cold was numbing and was beginning to chill her fingers and nose, but Snape's warm folds had room for all of these pieces of her anatomy, somewhere. She let her fingers wend their way into his shirt, and they settled on his nice broad tummy, which seemed to radiate heat.

 

"Mmm," he said, shivering, but drawing her closer. "I like the fact that I can keep you warm."

 

Hermione kissed him in response, letting her nose warm itself in his soft neck fat.

 

As they stood there, admiring the view, she realized that she felt incredibly self-possessed in her relationship with him. There was nothing immature about their relationship. There were no guessing games. There were no petty squabbles. They had their imperfections, and they made them known to each other in good faith, sensitivity, and compassion. Well, mostly, at least.

 

"You know what," she said, holding him closer, "this is really good."

 

"Yes," he said, staring over her at the gloomy horizon, "I like to come up here sometimes. It's someplace that, despite the thousands of souls that Hogwarts has housed over the years, is relatively untouched by others. Very few people have shared this view with me."

 

Hermione nodded, taking in what he said.

 

"Who else?" she asked, since it seemed to be an invitation to ask.

 

He looked steadily elsewhere than her rosy face. "Dumbledore. Lucius. Lily."

 

Her hand wandered up and pointed his chin towards her, so she was looking into his eyes. "A short list," she said with a smile, and kissed him tenderly. "Thanks for showing me."

 

"It's less significant than you might think," he said with a slight scowl. "These are merely the few people I've spent an extended amount of time getting to know, with the exception of the Dark Lord."

 

"I see," Hermione said, and kissed him on the cheek anyway. She could read into it even if he disavowed the importance of the gesture. "So where'd you learn this trick, anyway? Some old book?"

 

He shook his head. "This isn't something you can learn from a book," he said, his breathing slowing. He eased himself down on the slick wood shingles of the roof and settled into a comfortable, relatively safe position. "It's a fundamentally practical skill."

 

Hermione was holding onto whatever she could for dear life, and was clearly not very comfortable, so he stood again, and grabbed her around the waist, and then they stepped off the rooftop, floating down to the ground.

 

They landed behind some ancient shrubbery, and Hermione saw that hiding behind it was a very old Muggle backyard playset. Some of the superficial accents were rusted, but the integrity of the structure was intact.

 

"What's this?" she asked, approaching it and touching it. "I think my parents got one of these for me when I was a little one."

 

Snape appeared a different kind of pleased than was usual for him. There was a kind of plain satisfaction, hidden behind a veil of stoicism.

 

"It's a bit older than that," he said, "I'm glad the anti-tarnishing spells have held up so long." He began to cast a few spells, and the swingset started to stand up a little straighter and cleaner.

 

He took a rueful look at the seat of the swing, but settled for leaning against one of the poles. "So, Hermione," he said, and gestured towards the swing.

 

Hermione laughed, looked at the tiny sliver of cracking plastic, and looked back at him.

 

"It'll hold you," he said, "but not me."

 

She nodded, and sat herself gingerly on the seat of the swing.

 

It was surprisingly resilient and strong, and her arse, while slightly too big for the child's toy, did manage to land in a comfortable way. Hermione then backed up and stood, contemplating letting go.

 

"Yes," he said, nodding, "do it."

 

"Is this supposed to teach me how to fly?" she asked, frowning.

 

He surprised her by nodding, a brooding entering his eyes.

 

She shrugged, and settled her arse more firmly into the seat, and lifted her legs.

 

It wasn't precisely like flying, but it was pretty close to it. And Hermione had just had a recent experience flying, so it wasn't just a paltry metaphor. There was the rushing of wind, the rush of lateral movement, and the feeling of near-weightlessness.

 

She relished it, and she began to swing higher.

 

"More," Snape said, though she could hardly hear him over the rush of wind in her ears. "Higher."

 

She nodded slightly, but felt her entire body wiggle. All of her motions were magnified. It took her a moment to rebalance.

 

"Now," he called, as she swung higher than before, "let go."

 

"Are you shitting me?" she called back, and refused to let go of the sturdy chains of the swing.

 

"Just do it," he replied as she approached the ground again, "Go."

 

She swung back and forth another time, but finally got the gumption to do it. "All right," she said with a whimper, even though he couldn't hear her, and she let go of the chains. She was propelled forward, and fell, fell, fell.

 

And she landed softly at Snape's feet.

 

She wondered initially if she'd been successful, since she hadn't broken her back, but he shook his head.

 

"Again," he said, and pointed to the swing.

 

"Seriously?" she said, "what am I supposed to do?"

 

"Just believe," he said simply.

 

"Believe what?" she demanded, cross. The rain was starting to come back, and she was feeling damp and icky.

 

"That you can," was all he said, and he stood back to watch her silently, his arms folded over his chest.

 

Of course this wasn’t helpful, so Hermione frowned, but tried again anyway.

 

And again, she flew off, and again, and again. But she didn’t manage to actually *fly.*

 

Snape shook his head disapprovingly. “This will not do,” he said finally, casting a wordless drying spell on her, and he looked at her with some amount of disappointment in his eyes.

 

He seemed to finally make a decision, and he gestured for her to get off.

 

She was entirely disappointed in herself as well. Why wasn’t she getting it? She got up and, sulkingly, stood to the side, waiting to be admonished.

 

But Snape didn’t admonish her - instead he surprised her by squeezing himself into the tiny seat and, with a deep breath, he managed to sit on it, though he seemed afraid to put his whole weight on it.

 

He cast a couple of strengthening and supportive spells on the seat now that he was on it, and then he closed his eyes and said, sternly, “It looks like I’m going to have to *show* you. But know that I’m only doing this *once,* Granger, so watch closely.”

 

He then stood back, and lifted his legs, and with a few effortful pumps, he was high in the air, and he said loudly, “Watch now,” and he let himself fly off the swing.

 

It was like watching a mermaid catapult from the bottom of the ocean higher into the clear blue water. Hermione had never watched anything like it. Snape’s legs wiggled a bit as he started off, but ultimately once he got in the swing of it, he glided through the air with relative effortlessness.

 

Then, with a dive, he landed back at her feet, though with a somewhat shaky landing.

 

“Now you,” he said, and pushed her towards the swing.

 

“But what did you *do?*” she exclaimed.

 

“You said it yourself,” he responded crisply, “it’s like swimming. Do the breast-stroke or something if that makes it any easier, once you’ve got momentum.”

 

“Thanks, that helps a lot,” she responded sarcastically, as she pumped her legs and elevated her height.

 

Once she was high enough, she closed her eyes and let go, and, for lack of anything else, started doing the breast-stroke.

 

“Granger!” she heard Snape’s voice far away. “Granger!”

 

She opened her eyes and discovered, to her great perplexity, that Snape was far below on the ground, and was running after her, his face red with the exertion, and his belly bouncing and rippling like a great deflated rubber ball with every step.

 

Soon enough he had enough momentum to follow her, and he leaped up, and was in the air with her.

 

Good timing, too, since Hermione was beginning to falter.

 

“Erm, how did I do this?” she whinged, and felt herself plummeting as doubt began to affect her.

 

“You can do it,” he called to her, and grabbed her hand, stopping her from falling as fast. “You’re doing very well. Just don’t let yourself convince yourself it’s not possible.”

 

“I can,” she replied with a huffing breath, “I can.” She breathed deeply, and felt herself rise again. “It’s so weird.”

 

“Congratulations, Miss Granger,” he said, wrapping her into his arms as he saw she was beginning to slip again, “you are officially more accomplished than nearly every other wizard on the face of the earth.”

 

“I don’t understand,” she said, “it was… really so simple.”

 

“Deceptively so,” he said, and kissed her tenderly. “Oh yes,” he said, wrapping his arms more tightly around her, “I knew you could do it.”

 

“It’s easier than apparating,” she said, “and even less unsettling.”

 

She broke away from his arms, and he grinned at her as she began to get more of a foothold of her new skill, testing her strength and agility with different strokes and methods.

 

“It really is like swimming,” she murmured, “you sink if you don’t tread.”

 

“That’s correct,” he said, “but unlike water, you have a very swift maneuverability.”

 

“It’s great,” Hermione said, and flipped herself in a loop, though regretted it as she felt her stomach lurch.

 

“Careful,” he said, and floated closer to her, and extended his hand. “Don’t want to be sick on some unsuspecting first-year.”

 

She looked down and realized that they had somehow gotten over near a more populated area of the garden. It being such a dreary day, almost no one was out, but a few students were sitting around on the grounds; one group had a small bonfire keeping them warm.

 

“Can’t they see us?” she asked, and looked at him inquiringly.

 

He shook his head. “Chameleon spell. They’ll think we’re bits of clouds, if they see us at all.”

 

“Another ingenious discovery of yours?” Hermione asked, since she decided it was clear that Snape must have uncovered this practical skill of flying on his own.

 

He shook his head. “That one’s my own creation,” he said. “Flying, however,” he went on, “is much, much older, and no, I did not rediscover it.”

 

Hermione knew there was much more of a story there, but Snape didn’t appear to be in the mood for questions. He seemed thoroughly tired, even if he probably wouldn’t admit it to her, so Hermione decided she would begin to float back in the direction of her bedroom.

 

“Come on,” she said, as he looked after her, “I’m quite knackered.”

 

“All right,” he said, and followed her wearily.

 

Something about their time out there had made him quiet, subdued, and Hermione didn’t know what it was. Once they were back in her room - made chilly by the windows being left open, but that was soon remedied by closing them and stoking the fire - she wrapped him in warm blankets and thrust a warm cuppa in his hands, along with biscuits when he looked at her with the hungry disbelief of a cat given only a saucer of milk, with no fish. (She knew that look well on Crookshanks.)

 

“I haven’t flown that long in a while,” he confessed once he had a bit in his stomach. “I forgot how ...sad… it makes me.”

 

Hermione curled around him. “It’s all right,” she said, “do you want to talk about it?”

 

He shook his wet hair. “Not particularly.”

 

“That’s fine,” she said, and kissed him gently on the lips. His lips weren’t precisely responsive, but he reciprocated just enough to show he was grateful, but not enough to demonstrate an interest in snogging.

 

“So,” she asked, as she snuggled into his warm torso, “can I ask where that swing came from?”

 

“You can ask,” he said, slowly, “but I think for the moment, I’m going to keep the details confidential. I’m… I’m not sure that I’m ready to reveal this story to you.”

 

“I see,” she said, and fondly stroked his cheek. “I can respect that.”

 

“You’d better,” he said grouchily, “and not ask me every day for the next month until I give in.”

 

She laughed and pulled herself under the covers. “I’m ready for sleep,” she began to say, but her stomach rumbled. “Dammit.”

 

She sat up in bed, and accio’ed food from the kitchen. She was surprised to see a nice large bowl of ice cream come from the freezer.

 

“It looks like someone’s taking care of you,” said Snape as he looked with the same surprise she had. “That definitely was not in the ice box before.”

 

“No,” Hermione agreed, “it was not.” She didn’t tell him that, indeed, she’d already finished an additional bowl of ice cream that day when she was working on grading papers.

 

But she wasn’t about to look a gift-horse in the mouth, so she set about eating every bite of that delicious bowl, with only a few bites finding their way into Snape’s mouth.

 

He was, it seemed, properly knackered, and was snoring before she’d even finished her dessert.

 

Her stomach stopped its rumbling, fortunately, once she had swallowed every last bite of the ice cream, but Hermione realized that this insatiable hunger was not going to go away anytime soon.


So she cuddled up against Snape, feeling the warmth of her great expanded belly nestle into the pit of his broad dimpled back, and she fell asleep, her arm draped over him fondly.

Chapter Text

Monday came, it did, and Hermione was invigorated for the week. She and Snape had breakfast together, accompanied with some kisses and nuzzling, and indeed they did give each other the pleasure of wanking in the shower, but soon enough she was off doing other things, and so was he.

Moreover, she'd spent enough time with Snape over the weekend that she felt like she'd been paid-attention-to, and she'd spent enough time doing carnal things that she was ready for some time being productive and introverted.

This she accomplished with aplomb, but I fear it's not much good for a story to write about the mundane features of her life. Suffice it to say, she was productive, did a lot of teaching, ate a great deal of food, and had a great deal of very heady sex with Snape in the evenings, when they both were free to spend time together.

What is notable is that she thought about Neville, but did not reach out to him most of the week, until finally her conscience couldn't bear it, and she knew she had to approach him.

He, unlike Certain Other professors she knew, was there in the Great Hall daily for every meal - it seems he never broke out of the habit cultivated from being a student, when eating was inherently more interesting than studying for everyone except Hermione and a couple of Ravenclaws.

So it was relatively simple for her to coordinate an encounter with him. After a particularly light period, where fortunately her students' practical efforts had been unusually rewarding, she was in a great mood, and she had the desire to gush. So she went to the Great Hall for her semi-dinner, and she saw Neville there, nervously trying to eat a sandwich that seemed as desperate to get out of his hands as he was to drop it.

"Not hungry?" she asked, as he half-heartedly scrambled after the slick ham and basil that fell into his plate.

He shrugged and threw down the remaining bread from his hand. "About the sum of it." He didn't look in her eyes.

"So," she asked, leaning towards him, though she was impressed by the fact that her tummy was big enough that it made leaning forward somewhat cumbersome. It squished into rolls. She was definitely entering the realm of being fat. "How are you?"

He seemed bewildered by her. "What are you doing?"

She raised an eyebrow. "What do you *think* I'm doing? I'm trying to flirt with you."

"It's working," he said narrowly, turning his eyes back to his sandwich. Then, with a deep breath, he added, "But it's not going to happen, 'Mione. Forget what I said that night."

"I can't," she said, turning her chair to face him better. "Now, what is it that made you change your mind?"

He shook his head, and finally, after a few moments of silence, managed to say, "You're dating *Snape.* There's not a wizard on earth that would touch you, not when you're under his *protection.*"

"What?" Hermione exclaimed, taken aback, "Has he said anything to you?"

"He doesn't have to," Neville responded, coldly. He stared at her, daring her to ask why.

"What," Hermione asked, moving in to a drilled-down glare. "Is it just that he's so intimidating you don't dare share the same piece of meat he fucks?"

Neville opened his mouth to reply the affirmative, but clearly thought better of it and closed his mouth again.

Hermione shook her head. "Seriously?" She sighed. "If you can get over the idea of me being Snape's property, then, Neville, maybe we can do something. As it is, though," she went on, standing up, "I'm perfectly content dropping the matter. I just hate to think that you'd stoop so low as to deny yourself the companionship you're desperate for just because of antiquated values pertaining to women and their bodies."

She looked to see if he had a response, and he didn't seem to, so she got up. "Whatever," she mumbled under her breath, "you boys are all wankers, every single one of you."

She was more disappointed than she allowed herself to feel, at least initially. But Severus was waiting for her that evening in his irresistable brocade waistcoat, which had clearly been a chore to put on, and she melted at the sight of him.

"Oh, gods," she breathed with a sigh as she saw him, "you look ravishing, but give me a moment."

He gingerly got up and followed her to the bedroom, where she collapsed in bed, facefirst. He joined her there, laying down next to her, facing the ceiling.

"What's wrong?" he asked, after moments of silence. His words were labored, but just slightly - as if he were trying to keep himself from sounding eager to help.

"Neville," she groaned. "I finally had a moment to connect with him today, and he won't even consider touching me. Thinks of me as *your* property."

"I can't say I'm not pleased, to an extent," Snape breathed, touching her shoulder and rubbing it. "But I'm sorry you had that disappointment."

"I mean," Hermione went on, "I wasn't particularly anxious about it, which makes it worse, I suppose - I felt like I had the upper hand of this relationship, like I was the one being sought-after, and I didn't think I'd have to work to get it started. I thought it'd ignite quickly when I chose to start it, like kindling, you know?"

"I hear you," he responded sullenly, "though that's never, ever, been my own experience. Particularly the way I look now."

"Shush," Hermione said, rolling over and looking at him with mocking disapproval. "I'll not have you say unkind things about my new favorite person."

Snape's cell-phone buzzed at that moment, in his trouser-pocket, and he opened it quickly to see what the message was, then quickly closed it again.

"What is it?" Hermione asked.

Severus shook his head. "Nothing important."

Hermione squinted at him and said, "Come now. Tell me. Anything to distract me from these feelings of having been let down."

"All right," Snape said with a half-grin, "here."

He showed Hermione a very blurry photo of a broad-shouldered trans woman and a plump, soft black girl. The girl was wearing a skintight bodysuit, bearing a whip, and the trans woman was bound in a thousand knots to a chair, backwards. The trans woman had a look in her eyes of pleading, begging, while the dominating girl grinned provocatively. The photo was clearly of a boudoir nature.

"That's Erika," he said, and Hermione looked at him.

"I presume the… younger one?" she asked, not sure how to proceed in this kind of situation.

He nearly giggled, since he'd clearly been conscious of the awkwardness of it.

"She's the black one," he said, with a bit of a snigger, "the other is Marielle, one of her other major partners. Granted, Marielle did just move to DC, so there's that difficulty."

Hermione was someone who did have a minor interest in the occasional woman, though honestly she'd always tended to date men, but she looked at Erika and admired her delightful, full lips, her full and sensuous curves (accentuated in her present attire) and sparkle of excitement in her eyes.

Her attention was more drawn to Marielle, however, despite herself - she really wanted to read Marielle as a woman, entirely, but Marielle had many features of manliness that shone through, like her torso's build and heavy jaw.

Of the two of them, Hermione noted, Marielle was also much fatter, with a sumptuous belly forming around her middle, a bona-fide spare-tire.

"I like them both," Hermione said, "though I admit I'm a little more partial to Marielle."

"Hm," Snape said, looking at the photograph again. "Really?"

"Yeah," Hermione said, one hand wandering down his torso, "really."

"Noted," he said, and kissed her gently, a prelude to ones of more intensity later. "So," he added, "Why?"

"Do I need a good reason?" she asked, patting his enormous belly thoughtfully. It gurgled involuntarily as she touched it.

"My dear," he confessed, "Can't we continue this over dinner?"

"Of course," she responded happily, and rose from the bed and followed him to the dining room.

….

*Hi readers~! Sorry this chapter is so short. Next one will be sexii?

So there's a not-very-major inconsistency that's been bothering me… I'll eventually go back and fix it but not today… in the 2nd or 3rd chapter, Snape says something like 'yo that's why we gotta get an honors program' and then in the mid teens I have a major conversation where Hermione's like 'yo so honors programs this is what they are.'

I guess it's not the biggest inconsistency but it's something that bothers me every time I re-read, so I wanted to apologize profusely for this error. Since obviously the point of this fic is the *plot,* lol. I think it's clear I care a lot about HOGWARTS HAVING AN HONORS PROGRAM so much that I forgot which character cared about this idea too.

Okay thanks bunches carry on :) Also please review because it makes rainbows fly out of the seat of my pants. And gets me more excited about writing the next chapter. :) obvs some of you have been really awesome about it like ARYNWY and Smithback and Reaping-Vampire and LoveIntheBattlefield but I'm hoping others of you comment more! Particularly tell me what you like because that really makes me happy :)

ALSO OMG OMG OMG OMG SOMEONE ('Fattington' on DeviantArt) MADE ME FANART.

copy/paste this into your address bar and delete the spaces

h t t p : / / tinyurl . com / fattingtonDA

and then you will see the hills are alive with the sight of fat snape :) holy cow I'm so happy you have no idea.

….

Chapter Text

 

Hermione and Severus were soon sitting at a table laden with a sumptuous dinner that threatened to engulf the table.

 

Snape wasted no time in serving Hermione a heaping bowl of pasta, laced with fine cheese, bits of lobster, pepper, and paprika, and she delighted in slurping up noodle after noodle. They were starchy and thick linguini, and they stuck on her fork as lovingly as they’d stick on her middle once digested.

 

He gave a small smirk of satisfaction as her tongue made love to her fork. It was only after deciding that she indeed liked her food that he began to look over the offerings, and selected a large veal, ham, and egg pie.

 

“Oh yes,” Hermione observed with a rush of lust as he tucked into it, and a smile came to his face as he stuffed a forkful into his mouth and swallowed it in just a few hasty chews. “You’re quite hungry, aren’t you.”


“Yes,” he admitted, and stuffed another bite in his mouth without further deliberation.

 

She put another bite of chewy pasta in her mouth, and he nodded approvingly, watching as he chewed.

 

They ate in contented silence until the edge of hunger no longer plagued them, and Snape had eaten nearly half the pie, and Hermione had sucked down the entire bowl of noodles.

 

“You’re so nice and full-looking,” Snape said shyly, taking a sip of his wine. “It suits you very well.”

 

“Same to you,” Hermione said with a smile, brushing her hair out of her eyes. “You just can’t keep your appetite in check, can you?”

 

“No,” he returned, with a rueful smile. Then he commenced to start on a full plate of fish and chips, with tartar sauce and vinegar, and boiled peas on the side. “Can you blame me, though?”

 

“Not at all,” Hermione responded, and was already halfway through a slice of a large pizza. She swallowed a bit with onion, olive, and basil, and pushed it in Snape’s direction. “You might not give this back to me, but you should try this.”

 

“Mmm,” he responded, a wicked smile blooming on his face, but he didn’t stop chewing his food. With his free hand, he took two slices and gave back the rest.

 

“So, how was your day?” Hermione went on.

He shook his head, swallowed, and poised his fork to take another stab at the pie. “No news fit to print,” he said, “I admit I’m getting fatigued with trying to keep up with all the requirements necessary to continue my work. But at least I’ve made some major strides.” He took a bite, and went on, “Today I finished the grant request to the Veritas Foundation, which, I’m sure you know I’ve been losing a bit of sleep over. It’s not every day that one sends a proposal to the pre-eminent provider of non-governmental subsidies in Europe. So I’m glad to be done with that. Grant-writing is tedious,” he grumbled, and stuffed his mouth again.

 

“I hear you,” she responded, and relaxed a little bit more into her chair, adjusting the band of her skirt, which was beginning to dig into her belly. She then began to feel curious about the status of their potions conference plans, which they’d expounded upon some time ago, and Snape said he would begin to make the preparations. “What about the application to Potions-Masters Invested in Thought?” she asked. “I don’t mean to pressure you, if you’re too busy, but have you started on that?”

 

“I did,” he said with a smirk, “Last week, right after we talked about it. And I finished it yesterday. I thought I told you?”

 

“Oh, I’m silly,” she replied, “You did tell me. I just lost it in the mess of my brain. I know we’ve been talking it to death, but can I read it?”

 

He nodded, and accio’ed his laptop from the table. “I haven’t sent it, of course,” he said with a smile, “Given it’s more of a… collaborative effort.”

 

She playfully patted his tummy - “Not our only ‘collaborative effort’,” she said teasingly - and slid the laptop towards her. With a few clicks, she was down the page, processing the information at top speed. Though when she tried to make an edit, a large pastry crumb was stuck in between the S key and the face of the keyboard. She flicked at it, and it flew across the room.

 

“You duck,” she said with a giggle, “you tend to snack when you’re working on something, don’t you?”

 

“Guilty,” he murmured, and he moved his chair so he could see where she was in the document. He leaned forward and, hesitantly, wrapped an arm around her and put his head on her shoulder. “Many of my current pounds are a result of it.”

 

“I like it that way,” Hermione murmured with half of her attention, placing a hand on his vast belly as it pressed against her, and continuing to read.

 

She made a few changes. “So wait, so what’s this you’re saying here? Are you saying that this entire potential section would be interdisciplinary? Or that just this particular subsection would be interdisciplinary?”

 

“The entire section, of course,” he replied with the mildest of annoyance. “That’s why I wrote ‘The three components of this would be…’”

 

“It’s just the referent isn’t that clear,” Hermione said, “so I’ll just restate ‘the section.’”

 

“Fine,” he responded, and she continued to read. He sat up again, grabbed the pie plate and his fork, and ate while holding it, his eyes never leaving the screen.

 

“Change that word,” he said as she was reading, “from singular to plural.”

 

“All right,” she said, and changed it.

 

They fell into a comfortable editing posture, Snape re-reading for surely the umpteenth time, and Hermione reading with fresh eyes. She realized how lovely this experience was as she listened to his breathing, and felt it against her neck, and she felt in that moment how happy she was to not be with Ron anymore.

 

Ron would never sit there with her, reviewing alongside her - he never put much pride in his written work, whereas Snape clearly did, even if he denied it. Ron would never help her put together a conference to advance wizarding knowledge. Ron’s work had never been interesting enough to talk about with her regularly. Ron would never enjoy being comfortable and fat with her, basking in the warm feeling of being nice and full, and occupied by a mental project.

 

Snape gave her a sip of wine once in a while, sharing from his glass. The sweet dark merlot was warming and luscious, and it tasted exactly like she felt when Snape wrapped his arm around her and stroked her loose hair tenderly with his fingers.

 

Soon Hermione finished, and after a few other changes, she breathed, “You know, I think this is quite good. Now,” she added, “is this the first time you’re applying for funding from P-MIT, or its parent organization, AcademiVest?”

 

“Yes,” Snape said, his voice low and comfortable, “Have you done it before?”

 

“I submitted a proposal a few years ago,” Hermione said, “for the public advocate’s office, they were trying to conduct a study on quality of life, and we had to submit a proposal to AcidemiVest for funding to pay for the survey team.  I think the witch in charge there then is still here; her name is Malaenie Creight. She and I corresponded quite a bit. I know she’s a real stickler about formatting. I’m guessing you didn’t look at the guidelines too closely.”

 

“I assumed it wasn’t that important,” Snape said with a grimace, withdrawing his arm from around her shoulders and sitting back in his chair, cracking his neck. “Apparently, I was wrong.”

 

“Yes, with Malaenie, she has been reviewing these applications for nearly fifty years, and she’s a bit trigger-happy with her rejections. If you don’t mind, I know exactly what to fix.”

 

“Be my guest,” Snape said, picking up and munching on the final bit of pie. “I’m not displeased to let you finish this.”

 

“You did most of the grunt work, though,” Hermione said, and kissed his cheek. “It’s really flawless, aside from this.”

 

“...thank you,” he said, though the words seemed to be hard for him to say.  His mouth curled into a half-smile, and he kissed her on the cheek as well.

 

“When you’re done,” he said, “I expect to entertain you in a different fashion.”

 

“Please do,” she said, “but let me finish.”

 

He put down his empty plate and drew his arm around her again, this time settling around her middle and grabbing at her nice fleshy love-handle.

 

His fingers worked their way a little further down, down, and down again until she firmly grabbed his hand and set it back where it had started. He obeyed her implicit command until she finished, and then he grabbed her again with a growl of hunger and lust, and he put his hand under her rump and moved her onto his lap.

 

“Mm,” he said as she settled there, and she started unbuttoning her bodice, “you’re getting a bit big, my dear. Soon I won’t be able to keep you here, your delightful arse will simply be…”

 

He cupped it, and petted it, “...too large.”

 

“Won’t be *entirely* my fault,” Hermione said with a snicker, “your lap is getting smaller every day.”

 

“True,” he responded, and sighed as Hermione put both her hands on top of his belly, nearly purring as she rubbed it.

 

Then, without further ado, she slipped off his lap - despite being so fat, his knees were quite knobby - and sliced up a cake that sat, freshly iced upon the table.

 

“Sit back,” she instructed, and he obeyed, stretching his spine by inching his arse forward in the chair and readjusting the lumbar pillow. “Now eat,” she commanded, an enormous spoonful of cake in front of his face.

 

He did not delay, and his wide mouth embraced the cake, which was a nice heavy carrot cake with generous icing. “Oh,” he murmured, as Hermione’s hand massaged his gut. “It’s glorious. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish it. I ate a little too much today already.”

 

“A little too much?” Hermione purred, rubbing his belly all over, landing finally at the base of his gut, where the waistcoat threatened to break at any moment. “I don’t think you got as big as you are today by eating ‘a little too much,’ Severus.”

 

“What do you mean?” he asked, playing.

 

Hermione responded initially by stuffing his mouth again, and as she withdrew the spoon, she smirked. “I think you simply can’t endure a single moment where you aren’t stuffed to the brim,” she said, rubbing his upper gut again as he chewed and groaned quietly. “Isn’t that right? You’re addicted to food, and you can’t keep yourself from eating something nearly every moment. That feeling of being stuffed… that’s what keeps you feeling *alive.*”

 

“Yes,” he murmured, and he barely had time to get the word out before Hermione forced another bite into his mouth.

 

“You admit it, then,” she whispered, and leaned in to lick some frosting off of his lips as he chewed. “You’re unable to help yourself. You can’t stop eating.”

 

He nodded in response, his eyes wide and pleading.

 

“Well, with me around,” Hermione went on, feeling very Slytherin indeed, “you won’t have to stop. I’ll keep feeding you every moment of every day, so you never have to mourn the lack of food in your mouth. In fact,” she went on, going darker, “you’ll have no choice in the matter. Once you’ve started, there’s no turning back. You won’t be able to have a second of waking time without another bite of food in your mouth. Your stomach will rebel,” she went on, “but it will stretch to accommodate that massive amount of food.”

 

She was rubbing him fiercely, and then she realized that what she *really* wanted to be rubbing was her clit, so she raised her skirt, propped up her leg on her chair, and did just that - rubbing her clit and rubbing his belly with the same frenzied movements.

 

Snape swallowed just then, and opened his mouth again, so Hermione had to set up a magic spell to transport the spoon to Snape’s mouth. She just didn’t have enough hands!

 

“And oh,” she went on, feeling an orgasm washing over her, “oh, how fat you will get. Your podgy belly will seem so tiny in comparison to what you will achieve. Your cheeks will fill out more and more,” she breathed, and sucked in a little scream of pleasure that came involuntarily from her lungs, “and your belly will be so large and distended, it will droop to the floor. Your arse will be so vast and wide,” she went on, “that it will be nearly as big as a table. And your thighs will be so thick and juicy, you will scarcely be able to walk. Your breasts will be heavy and thick, and delicious to suck on. You will be so big,” she continued, “your cock will be lost in it, and only the most dedicated adventurer can help you get an orgasm, since you’ll be too fat to reach your poor little cock yourself.”

 

Snape raised his hand to stop being fed, and Hermione paused the spell with a wave, and he urgently stood up and pulled his trousers down. Hermione grabbed his cock and began pulsing it.

 

“Yes,” she breathed, “let’s practice, shall we? You’re too fat to give yourelf an orgasm, Severus,” she breathed, and she leaned forward and sucked on his cock for a few long moments, as Snape shuddered with pleasure.

 

“You’re entirely reliant on me,” she went on, licking her lips and resurfacing, “to bring you pleasure. Oh yes,” she breathed, and went back down on his cock, as she continued to awkwardly rub her own clit. “Only I can make you feel good.”

 

He moaned, and his cock pulsed, and unloaded itself in her hand, and partially on the floor, and he came in several painfully-pleasurable squirts, then lay back in the chair, panting, with one hand on his massive belly.

 

She wasn’t done yet, though, so she magically cleared some room on the table with a sweep of her hand, and she lay down upon it, and it groaned a bit under her.

 

“Someone could drown in the thick rolls of your fat, Severus,” she continued, rubbing herself furiously. He took a few more deep breaths, then sat up and leaned forward to suck her.  “But it would be the most pleasurable kind of death,” she added, orgasming the moment his lips made contact with her clit. Her juices were dripping down her plumpening thighs. “Because your body would be the softest, fattest, most decadent thing to ever grace the face of this good earth. As swollen as an apple left on the ground, expanding with endless, endless… bigness. The fattest man alive,” she breathed, “and you’re all mine.”

 

Her body twisted with another orgasm, and another, and another, until finally she lay there, panting, feeling tremendously good.

 

“I don’t know… how you do it,” Snape said, taking deep breaths and sitting back in his chair, clearly as stuffed as he could be. “Change of plans. No more work for me tonight.”

 

“You look quite done in,” Hermione responded with a grin, and she eased herself off of the table. “Let’s get ourselves to bed, shall we?”

 

“Quite,” he responded, and with her help, he eased himself up out of his chair, leaving a beautiful arse-sized imprint in the cushion.

 

“Come,” Hermione said, offering her arm, and they strolled to the bedroom.

 

When Snape sat down to take off his shoes, the waistcoat decided enough was enough, and it lost several buttons, in one frantic attempt to launch them to the moon.

 

“Well then,” Hermione said, with a giddy giggle, “that’s almost enough to make me come again.”

 

“I’m getting fat,” Snape said, a dopamine-influenced, bubbly smile coming to his face. It was a rare sight for him to be so unequivocally delighted. “Look at that.”

 

She bent down laboriously to collect the buttons, and put them in a box near her bed. “That waistcoat seems to have lost its waist,” she said, and broke down into giggles herself.

 

Snape chuckled and undid the upper few buttons that still strained against his massive belly. “Oh, much better,” he breathed, and he lay back, whereupon he began to undo his straining shirt-buttons as well.

 

“You can still talk,” Hermione said with a wink, “so now we’re in bed, let’s see if we can top off your tank with just a little bit more.”

 

“All right,” he mumbled, and pulled off his shirt wearily. “It won’t be much.”

 

Hermione accio’ed something sweet from the kitchen, and found to her delight that the magic bowl of ice cream was filled and waiting.

 

“Here we go,” she said, and she fed him bite by bite as he leaned against the headboard, his chin raised and both hands rubbing his distended, overfull tummy.

 

“Heavenly,” he murmured, swallowing. “So. Yes.”

 

Of course, he himself underestimated how much he could pack in his belly, and they managed to get nearly the entire bowl inside him before he put a hand over his mouth and shook his head woozily.

 

“All right,” Hermione said, and finished off the rest, which was enough to make her feel nearly as stuffed as him.

 

“I wonder how that bowl came to be,” she murmured, and he gingerly shrugged, and swallowed to keep his food down. “It’s a mystery, really.”

 

He nodded incrementally, and she kissed him on the cheek. “Let me help you readjust and lay down.”

 

He accepted her help, and soon he was on his side, in such a position where she lay beside him, wrapped her arm around him, and massaged his upper belly.

 

“You did a very good job,” she whispered in his ear, “you ate almost everything. You’re going to keep growing, and growing fast.”

 

He just sighed in reply and she looked to see that he had closed his eyes, and was probably drifting off.

 

“Good night,” she murmured, and snuffed out the lights with a wave of her hand.

 

As she drifted off to sleep, she thought she heard a tiny sigh of anguish come from the clothes-closet, but she might have just dreamed it.





……………...

 

Thanks to all the reviewers who are reviewing and are great. Your face is great. You’re great. So great. Greatness. Great. Great. Great. Much love!

 

Note: To the anonymous reviewer who was put off by Hermione’s bisexual tendencies revealed last chapter sort-of randomly: thanks for your comment. I’m sorry you might not read this. The thing is, this writing isn’t a perfect work of art. It’s never been intended to be. I don’t edit in any sense of the word. I plough through, with a word goal of about 2000 words, and post what is effectively my first draft of every chapter. Some authors on fanfiction deliberate a little more, and take more pride in their work. I don’t. I have my reasons. So if things are a little uneven here and there, then that’s why. I think you’re giving me more credit than I deserve - I definitely don’t do the ‘what kink/theme shall I add today’ bit. I have a couple of plot questions I try to answer every chapter - e.g. ‘what’s happening with Neville?’ and ‘how’s Snape’s relationship with Erika?’ - and everything else arrives organically.     

 

 

Chapter Text

She woke up to the sound of him belaboredly putting on his clothes, grunting in dismay as he struggled to get his trousers buttoned.

“Hey,” said in a soft whisper, and reached out to grasp his hand. He sighed deeply and extended it to her, half-heartedly.

She took it warmly, sat up, and wrapped herself around him. He smelled deliciously unshowered, and her lips found their way to the sensitive place under his earlobe and kissed him sweetly.

“Morning,” she said, turning his head to look at her, and she pressed her lips into his.

He reciprocated, but only minimally, and then he began to try at his trousers again.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, moving back slightly and putting her hand on his shoulder. “Can I be helpful?”

“Not really,” he said, his voice low and dark. “It’s just the usual sort of thing.” He shook his head and, with a grimace, accio’ed a bottle of pills. Not looking at her, he opened the bottle and put two pills in his mouth, and swallowed them dry.

Hermione saw his tense shoulders immediately relax, though the gloom did not move from him.

“I’m going to feel like crap all day,” he said, standing up and struggling with his shirt, having given up on his trousers.

“You forgot your medicine last night?” Hermione said, letting her hand settle on his ample waist. “I didn’t know you take it at night. I’ve never seen you take it at all, actually.”

He turned his head and glared at the closet. “I don’t like to talk about it.”

“So you hide it?” Hermione asked, letting her hand fall into her lap.

He didn’t answer, but hurriedly put the bottle in his pocket.

“It’s okay,” she said with a gentle murmur, “I don’t know what you’re afraid of, but don’t be. Please.”

He tugged at his shirt one final time and turned around. His face was sullen. “I’m afraid of your pity,” he said after a moment of careful, calculated hesitation. “If we’re going to do this, Granger, you’ve got to respect me, and never pity me. I’m not a creature that you need to protect from himself.”

She listened, and realized he was right to be afraid. She *did* have somewhat protective feelings for him, and she realized that they really came from a very convoluted place. Was there pity in there? She supposed so. But it was more than that.

“I don’t think that’s my problem, exactly,” she said thoughtfully, “though I can understand why you wouldn’t want that.”

He did not respond, instead gazing at her suspiciously, so she went on, “I do respect you, I truly do. It does make me sad when I see you so adamant about your pride that you can’t be vulnerable.”

“I don’t think that’s accurate,” he said with a grimace, sitting gingerly on the edge of the bed. “I’m plenty vulnerable with you. More than I should be.”

She reached out for his hand, and he turned his head away, but took her hand in his.

“Maybe,” she said, “I suppose if you feel that way, then that’s how you feel. But here’s what I’m seeing.” She took a breath - this was getting into risky territory, but she felt like they had enough of a relationship between them now that he could handle it.

“I’m seeing that you go back and forth with me,” she said, and he remained stony-faced, staring at the wall to his left. “One moment you’re very vulnerable with me, and so… so open. Then you seem to regret it, and close up again. I don’t blame you,” she went on, “but that’s what I’m seeing.”

He stirred, and took a deep breath, but did not respond for a long time. “That coincides with my experience,” he said at last.

She smiled at him, even though he wasn’t making eye contact with her. “Well, it’s not a bad thing,” she said, “though it is a bit confusing at times. I struggle because I feel like those times that you’re more closed are my fault, somehow.”

“Sometimes they are,” he responded coldly. He continued to stare in the opposite direction.

“And how is that?” Hermione said, feeling her throat get tighter.

He shook his head, struggling to answer, until he finally said, “You listen to me. And you ask me damned difficult questions. And you make me…” He swallowed harshly. “...sometimes you make me forget the things that have happened to me. At least for a while. I forget how fucked up I am, and how I fucked up *everything.* And I enjoy my life, and my obscene sexual interests, and the fact that I’m not worthy of anyone fucking at all. Much less anything else.”

“Anything else, meaning what?” Hermione asked, though she could tell where he was going with this, and it made her insides crawl with anticipation.

He turned his head and searched her face. His eyes were fierce and bright and shiny, and his upper lip twitched.

“What do you think I mean?” he responded lowly, his face hard and impassive.

“I’m not quite sure I know,” Hermione replied, and tried not to let him know she was playing with him.

He could tell though, and rolled his eyes. “Do I *have* to spell it out for you?”

“I’m afraid so,” she replied, feeling thrilled at the high level of emotion in this conversation. He was having such trouble. It was such a glorious feeling, watching him try to do something so profoundly difficult for him. He was getting there, if slowly.

He opened his mouth as if to curse at her, but decided better and reformed his lips into a pressed line.

Then he tried again. “I’m not worthy of anyone fucking. Much less,” he said, and stared penetratingly at her, as if she were a dungbomb about to explode, “loving.”

“So wait,” Hermione said, leaning forward and putting a hand on his shoulder. He shrugged it off with a jittering shake. “What are you saying exactly?”

He looked as if he wished something would interrupt them. Anything.

And as it happened, something did. There was a clatter as the antique bedside table’s legs broke, and all of Hermione’s papers and such fell on the floor in an avalanche of parchment, along with dishes from last night’s binge.

“Shit,” Hermione said, and reflexively grabbed her wand and caught the clattering mess in the nick of time. With an effortless spell, she sent the mess to the bureau, where it settled with a gentle rustle. “Was that you?” she asked.

“...Yes, sorry,” he said carelessly, appearing distracted. He got up and, tiptoeing in his stocking-feet, he moved towards the closet.

“What are you-” Hermione began, but Snape put a finger to his lips, telling her to be quiet. He was remarkably silent on his feet, despite his enormous size.

Then, with a flash, he threw a spell, and the closet door banged open. Hermione saw the sight of Lowly looking terrified for just a moment before the elf blinked out of sight. In her haste, she had forgotten someone.

Hermione had never seen a fat house-elf, and at the sight of one, she had no idea how to react. The elf that sat in her closet was truly enormous. She could not tell if it was male or female, but the creature smiled brightly up at Snape, though looked somewhat dismayed by Snape’s curdling expression.

“Hi,” squeaked the elf, “Master Severus?”

“What are you doing in here?” asked Snape, and Hermione could actually hear Snape’s voice had a trace of fear in it.

The elf smiled broadly. “Watching you!”

Hermione bounced over to the closet and got on her knees. Snape seemed content to stand and glare at the creature.

“Well, hello there,” Hermione said kindly, extending her hand.

She noticed that the elf was wearing a hat - a sloppy, handmade, wool hat. It sat awkwardly, too large on the elf’s head.

“Miss ‘Mione!” chirped the elf sadly. It pushed the brim of the hat up its forehead, only for it to come slipping back down into its eyes again. The elf tried to smile as it pushed the hat up again. “You, who made me a free elf!”

“I beg your pardon,” Hermione said, though as she squinted, she could recognize the hat that the elf wore. It was - uncannily enough - her own knitting work. She remembered working on this particular item - she’d been experimenting with her stitches.

“You freed me,” said the elf, no less sad. “My name is Fancy, if you please?”

“Hello, Fancy,” Hermione said, and waves of sadness began to overcome her as she remembered making hats and mittens and such for the elves - and none had been taken.

Apparently she had miscounted, because here was one that had somehow gotten to a new owner, as intended.

“Are you glad to be free?” Hermione asked, and Snape rolled his eyes and went to lay down on the bed. She heard him grab some papers, and she glanced over to see he was re-reading some grant materials that he had printed. So stubborn, he was.

“Of… of course?” answered the elf, though it sounded uncertain. “I am pleased with my lot in life.”

“I’m glad,” Hermione said, but was interrupted by the elf, who went on (in as deferential way as possible).

“I was a little *more* pleased with my life before I was free, though.”

“I see,” Hermione said, and felt a confused pang of regret. She wasn’t sure if she should have done more to free the elves or listened to those around her who told her she was wrong to care. “And you have been free for many years now?”

“Many!” exclaimed the elf a little more brightly. “But I’m so sorry,” the elf said, “to disturb you during your talk. Fancy thought she was quiet. Please carry on as you were, Lowly will be back to get me, soon.”

“What,” Snape asked dryly from the bed, apparently not able to tune out the conversation as well as he’d hoped, “you can’t leave on your own?”

“No,” answered the elf, and began to sniffle. “Fancy cannot.”

“Why is that?” Hermione asked, kindly as she could manage. She was afraid of the answer.

“They changed the wards once Dobby was gone, Miss Hermione,” said Fancy. “Free elves no longer can go around the castle on their own. They only let Dobby do it for Master Potter, because he is a Very Important Person.”

“Are there many free elves?” Hermione asked, gently extending her hand to offer it to Fancy.

Fancy responded warmly, by grabbing Hermione’s hand. “Not so many,” she said, “just Fancy, I think. Though I do not know.”

“I’m so sorry,” Hermione said, realizing that Fancy seemed to be lonely. “You don’t know of anyone else?”

“No,” Fancy said, and sighed. “She doesn’t either. It’s all right, though,” she - at least Hermione thought Fancy might be a she - went on, smiling bravely. “Fancy is well cared for, as you see.” She patted her enormous stomach, which hung low out of her tunic. Then she grasped onto Hermione’s hand and, with a great effort, stood onto her own two feet, where she wobbled unsteadily. “Lowly is my new Master,” she went on softly, “since Hogwarts no longer is. And Lowly is a very kind Master.” She gave a little hiccup, and uneasily sat down again.

“I see,” Hermione said, and did some mental calculus. “How long have you and Lowly been watching us?”

“A short while,” Fancy responded with delight. “We’ve been doing what you and Master Severus do! And I have gotten very fat,” she said with a purr of pride.

“Oh gods,” Snape said from across the room, hurriedly, as if he had been expecting this revelation somehow, and he clapped his hands. “Lowly?”

The other elf popped into the room, clearly white with mortification.

“Master Severus?” Lowly responded, not daring to look up at either Snape or Hermione.

Snape sat up wearily and shook his head. “You and Fancy need to stop this. Stop it now.”

“We see,” Lowly said, trembling and shaking. “We shall stop, Master Severus. We shall stop watching you.”

“No,” Snape said, his voice as hard as steel. “Not just that. You need to stop the feeding, too.”

“We see,” Lowly said.

“Get her back to normal,” Snape said with a frown. “You’ve abused your power. You are no longer Fancy’s master, Lowly. I have no idea how this started, but it ends now.”

“But… but Fancy chose to be her servant,” Fancy exclaimed from the closet, “Fancy is *hers!*”

“Not anymore,” Snape said coldly. “You are relieved of your service to Lowly, Fancy. Lowly,” Snape added, and the elf looked up with a strained smile, “you will care for Fancy as one of your own brethren. Fancy is *not* allowed to become a servant to any other elf. And Fancy must be permitted to work again as a servant of Hogwarts, if she chooses. She *must* be given the ability to travel through the wards again. Am I understood?”

“...yes, Master Severus,” Lowly said, still white and shaking. Lowly then hurried to the closet, put her hand on Fancy’s shoulder, and blinked out of the space.

“Gods,” Snape said, laying down again. “I can’t believe this. I truly can’t.”

“I don’t know what to think either,” Hermione said, also unnerved.

“That settles it,” Snape said with a frown, staring at the ceiling, his fingers steepled on his chest. “We’ve got to stop this.”

She didn’t need to ask *what* they needed to stop. But the disappointment was immense. “What about… what about everything we’ve talked about?” Hermione asked, dismay filling her. She sat on the floor and leaned back against the wall. “I thought we were… well…”

He turned his head and glared at her. “It’s clear that this is no longer about two consenting adults doing something… unusual… in privacy,” he said, resolution in his voice. “This goes beyond us.

“The world already sees us, as unusual, Hermione,” he went on, glum but resolved, “in the sense that we’re both intelligent beyond the comprehension of most of the feeble-minded dunderheads in the world. Why alienate ourselves even further by committing the sin of gluttony? Aren’t we both isolated enough without trying to make us even more distant and unreachable? Being intelligent already has enough dangers as it is. Being fat - well, there’s no surer path to being hated.”

Hermione squinted at him. “That’s very Catholic-sounding.”

“My father,” he said with a twinge.

He sighed. “And what of the other impressionable fools who see us,” he went on, closing his eyes and touching the bridge of his nose with his fingers, “Gods! Influencing a houseelf. That’s… like convincing a kitten to kill itself. Poor creature. That’s a sight I *never* want to see again.”

“Neither do I,” Hermione admitted. The whole situation had left her feeling uneasy, and Snape’s melodrama wasn’t helping.

“Fortunately,” Snape said, “this was an early reminder.” He stood up with a sigh, and started pacing. “Even when we think we are alone,” he murmured, bitterly, “our actions have consequences. This will only become worse the farther along we go. So, stopping seems to be the most logical course of action to protect those around us.”

“Why?” Hermione asked. “What will become worse?”

Snape rolled his eyes and kept pacing, his hands folded behind his back, his gait vigorous and betraying his distress. “People have not begun to notice you getting bigger, yet,” he said, “at least, not *really.* But it won’t be long before people do start noticing you. And then, they will be horrible to you.”

He threw himself in a chair and glared at the coat-rack. Hermione did not answer him, so he went on, “Why would I want to curse you to a life of looking like me? People hate fat people. I confess it’s hard for *me* not to hate *me* for being so fat. So I refuse.”

She looked at him quizzically. “Refuse what?”

He shook his head, his hair covering his face moodily. “I refuse to begin walking you down a path towards universal loathing.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Oh come now.”

“No,” he said, finally able to meet her eyes. “No. We can’t do this any longer.”

There was fear in his voice and eyes, she could tell, and it wasn’t getting better the more he spoke.

She got up and moved towards him. He was sweating profusely, and his forehead was cold to the touch.

“Are you all right?” she asked, and wiped his brow with the back of her hand.

“Perfectly,” he lied, but he maintained eye contact with her, testing her, daring her to call him on it.

She threw up her hands. “Fine,” she said, “so you just get to make decisions for the both of us, is that right?”

He seemed to retract his dominance visibly, becoming more withdrawn and observational, and he scrutinized her face carefully, not responding.

“Great,” she said crossly, “Glad to know I’ve got someone else looking out for what’s best for me who doesn’t even bother to solicit my opinion in the matter.”

She flounced away from him and went to manhandle the stray papers on the bureau.

“I...you…” Snape tried to form a coherent thought, but her back was turned to him, and he hesitated.

Finally, after some reflection, he proposed, “We could keep feeding me up, though. Perhaps just not as often.”

“Thanks, I really appreciate it,” Hermione said with sullen sarcasticness, not bothering to look back at him. “My body also appreciates being told what to do. It’s so refreshing. I’ve never had to contend with other people commenting on what I should do about my body before.”

“You must understand,” Snape said, though he sounded defeated already. “I’m just thinking of what’s truly best for you.”

“You certainly know better than I do,” Hermione quipped in response.

“You know,” he went on, though his heart was not in the argument anymore. “I am older than you. In theory, I *should* know better.”

“I’m so glad you do,” Hermione said, “I’m sure I’d have been dead long ago without you by my side.”

She was definitely not pleased with this course of events, and she mostly just wanted him to leave.

What on earth was his problem? They’d been *just* at the point where they’d really gotten to know and appreciate each others’ bodies, and were on the beginning of a beautiful sexual and romantic journey. Why the hell did he have to fuck it up?

*Oh.* Her mind went of its own accord to their prior conversation, about him being afraid of fucking things up, and self-destructing things that were going well.

“Okay,” she said, with a deep breath, and she took another for good measure. “Okay.”

She then turned around and faced him, though with a stern look on her face. “Okay.”

And then she marched over to where he sat, shoulders slumped and belly hanging between his wide-spread legs, and she slapped him across the face before he could blink at her.

He was startled, and glared at her. “Hey,” he began, but she slapped him again across his fat delicious face.

He was thoroughly perplexed, and remained silent thereafter.

“What do you think was the reason I did that?” Hermione asked.

He took a breath, and put a hand to his cheek. “Erm,” he began, and decided, “Because you are asserting your right to autonomy, which I was trespassing upon.”

“Yes,” Hermione agreed, “but go on.”

“Because you don’t want me to change the way we have negotiated our relationship without consulting you in making changes?”

“Yes,” Hermione agreed, “but there’s more.”

He curled his lip under and appeared thoughtful. “You don’t accept that our actions have broader effects on the people outside of our personal relationship.”

“Yes, but not what I’m going for,” Hermione said, “What was it that you were talking about very recently about… losing people?”

Snape opened his mouth to respond, but saw there seemed to be no use for it, and he closed his mouth again and bowed his head.

“I won’t say that it’s entirely relevant here,” he responded finally, not able to look at her. “But I think you are right to remind me of the phenomenon.”

“Right,” Hermione said grimly. “Now you’re going to take a moment and think about what you said, and come up with an alternative.”

His face was very expressive as it twisted for a few moments, revealing his frustration and anger, but it was amazing how he managed to suddenly bottle those emotions. His face became visibly blank, and he appeared thoughtful but phlegmatic.

After a few moments of thoughtful silence, he said, “Hermione, I’m going to respectfully ask that we talk about what our relationship should look like going forward. I’m of the opinion that it’s possibly dangerous for you to gain weight at a rapid pace, for not only biological reasons but because of the social implications.”

Hermione smiled, and lay down on the bed, stomach-first, to look at Snape carefully.

“Thanks for your concern,” she said brightly, “but I’m happy with the way things are, thanks very much.”

He took a deep heaving breath. “I see,” he said with a groan of despair. “Then what do you propose to do with my conscience, which is already showing signs of poisoning the small seedling of integrity that I’ve been trying to grow?”

“Integrity?” Hermione asked with a laugh. “What, you mean your response to the Fancy and Lowly situation is one based on *integrity?*”

“Scoff if you like, Granger,” he said moodily, kicking at the floor with the toe of his stockinged foot. “It’s… it’s important that my own self-destruction not have an impact on others.”

“I understand,” Hermione said, and wrapped herself around his plump body. “I do.” She let her fingers sink into the crevice between his belly and his thigh, and it was so hot and warm there. She loved feeling his stomach expand and contract with every breath. It was like her fingers were in an ocean of warmth with the rising and ebbing tide around them.

“Then what say you?” he asked, and she realized his breaths were getting shallower as he tried unsuccessfully to suck in his massive gut.

She removed her hand, and he began to breathe normally again. It was clear that fat play was not something he was particularly interested in right now.

“Do whatever you like,” Hermione said, smiling but firm. “I will support you in whatever you want to do - whether that’s getting thinner, getting fatter, staying the same, or just letting nature take its course. But,” she went on, “I ask you to extend me the same courtesy. Don’t tell me to stop enjoying my food, or modify my eating habits in any way.”

“Fine,” he agreed, “is that all?”

“Well,” she said with a small smile, looking up at him, “I’d like if you still let me enjoy your fat.”

He looked at her incredulously. “And what if, by some unusual chance, I become a thin man again?”

“Everyone has fat,” Hermione said. “Even thin people. It’s a matter of quantity.”

He grimaced. “I suppose. So,” Snape said, a bit more hopefully, “is it possible that the actual intent to gain weight is something that we can leave aside?”

“That’s what I said,” Hermione said, standing up and going to look at her figure in the mirror. It was fascinating to see how much more of it she filled up than she used to. Her tummy had emerged into its own, developing from a modest pot-belly to a full round mass of blubber, creamy and growing steadily heavier with every pound. She prodded her nice fat sides and made them wiggle.

Snape shifted his legs uncomfortably, and his breathing quickened immediately.

“Don’t you like this?” she asked, settling herself on the edge of the bed. “I certainly do.” She cupped her belly in her hand and cradled it. “Look at this nice pillow of soft jelly. It’s so warm to the touch and feels so comforting.”

“Wait until you’re laughed at,” he murmured raspily, as if trying to convince himself. “Wait until you are the object of scorn for everyone in the castle.”

“Look at my breasts,” she begged him, “aren’t they divine? Please tell me if they aren’t the most beautiful pair you’ve ever seen.”

“My opinion’s worth nothing,” he replied, as if not quite hearing her, “what will beautiful breasts do when you’re alone and no one will help you?”
“I have no intention of being alone,” Hermione said, cozying up to him more, and wrapping her arm around him, “not when I have you.”

His face was dark with unexpressed emotion. “But I won’t be around forever.”

“And when you’re gone,” Hermione replied, “I still won’t give a fig about what other people think.”

“Oh,” he murmured as she kissed him, and he leaned back on the bed as she voraciously kissed him. “Oh.”

Several minutes later, he murmured, “Granger, you *must* have been a Slytherin in some past existence. I don’t know what you do to me, but-”

“-Shh,” she whispered back. “It’s all right. Let’s just be quiet here together for a while.”

Soon the sound of their gentle snores filled the room.

 

 

 

notes

Dear readers who like this fic: Sorry for lack of regular updates, real life stuff has been overwhelming lately. Thank you for reading and reviewing, you’re the greatest. Also please check out more art I commissioned from fattington at deviantart. (Google ‘fattington deviantart growing’ and look at fattington’s gallery!)

…. warning, soapbox ahoy! ….

Dear readers who leave reviews telling me it’s ‘unhealthy’ and ‘out of character’ and ‘the amount they’re eating is unrealistic’ and such: this is a piece of fiction written in the genre of weight gain fiction. Within the realm of said genre, my writing is consistent with those norms. I understand that if this isn’t something you’ve previously been acquainted with, then you might be shocked and disturbed. I can’t say I didn’t warn you - the label on the tin is pretty clear. Don’t like, don’t read. I think this fic counts as a ‘rule 34 of the internet’ type of fic. Take it in that spirit, please. And seriously: If you don’t like it, stop reading it. Take the story off your alerts. And stop commenting your hate. It bums me out and I don’t publish your comments anyway.

I’ve been getting one lovely troll repeatedly telling me “you clearly are mentally ill because you wrote this disgusting thing.” I’d like to observe that this is really offensive to over twenty-five percent of the U.S. population. Over 60 million people in the U.S. alone experience some kind of mental illness or disorder in any given year (according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2013). This number is inclusive of mood disorders like depression and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. Please be respectful towards those who struggle with mental illness.

Moreover: Exploring sexual fantasies through writing is hardly a symptom of mental illness. It is a natural thing to experience sexual fantasies that don’t fit within typical bounds of what sexual fantasies ‘should’ look like. I’m just more comfortable with my non-normative fantasies than some people. A fantasy like this can be really scary for people to learn about - and also to have! But I think many people reading this fic have had some kind of sexual fantasy that made them worry about their mental health. And that’s okay. The human brain is weird, and we can’t always predict or control what turns us on. All we can do is control our behavior, and make sure our real-life relationships are ethical, and our sexual play is consensual.

Last point: One purpose of this fic is to help those who have this particular kink know that they’re not alone. I’m not advocating for people to become interested in this kink. I’m writing for those who already have this kink, especially those who are terrified about it, like I used to be. It’s a kink that is stigmatized both among people who struggle with their weight, and people who identify as kinky. But many people - like me - have known this kink was part of them since puberty. Fortunately, people are becoming less afraid to talk about weight-gain and fat-centric kink on the internet, at least within communities like Fantasy Feeder, Grommr, Dimensions Magazine Forums, and Tumblr. The more we talk about this kink outside of these communities, the more we can expand peoples’ ideas about sexuality. Even if I have to get abuse from commenters for it, I know it’s valuable. In the month of August, 3,345 individual visitors came and read this story. That’s 3,345 people who may not have heard of this kink before. Less than half of those visitors get to chapter two, as you might guess, and there’s significant attrition afterwards. But at this point, every update I get at least two hundred visitors per chapter. Isn’t that cool? I had no idea this story would get so much attention.

Chapter Text

She awoke later in the morning to the feeling of his urgent kisses gently running up and down her neck.

“Mmm,” she said, and swatted at him gently. “I won’t be getting up unless there’s coffee.”

With an exaggerated sigh, he heaved himself out of bed and padded to the kitchenette, where she heard him fill the coffee-pot with water and set it to boil.

She drifted back into luxurious unconsciousness, where she found herself dreaming. She was at least a hundred pounds fatter herself, and she was thoroughly engaged in the task of taking all his clothes off and fucking all five-hundred pounds of him in the Great Hall on the staff table, in front of everyone. Their reasons for choosing that table were apparently that it was the only table in the castle that could support him. She thrilled at the sight of all the gaping mouths of students and staff, and proceeded to exhibit very seductively what kinds of pleasurable things she liked to do to him.

His dick was almost in her mouth when the scent of strong coffee awoke her, and the flesh-and-blood three-hundred-twenty-four-plus-pound Snape was standing in front of her, sipping his own brew with one hand and hovering another cup under her nose.

“Damn,” she said with a frustrated grin, “I was in a great dream.”

“Mm,” was all he said in response, and seated himself gingerly in her desk chair, which looked a bit frail underneath him. He looked at her with the kind of look of a person who is in pain, but trying to ignore it.

“I suppose I’ll be wanting a new chair soon,” said Hermione, sitting up and drawing the bedclothes closer around her, picking up the cup. “It’s better suited to the frame of someone like McGonagall than you or I.”

He shrugged, and the chair squeaked its protest at having someone so heavy upon it.

“Also,” Hermione went on, “you look like hell. Are you feeling at all better?”

He tried to smile and looked out the window at the rain. “Slightly. Probably will be back to normal by evening.”

“Did you sleep more?” she asked, and he shook his head negative. “You must have, just a little bit,” she said with a smile, “I heard you snoring.”

“Oh.” He didn’t seem particularly invested in the conversation. “Perhaps. For a few moments.”

He stood up and went to stand at the window, where he took a few deep breaths.
“What does it feel like?” she asked, easing herself out of bed, the blankets around her, her coffee in her hand.

“What does *what* feel like?” he responded testily, clearly trying to dodge the question.

She joined him at the window. The rain was heavy this morning, the clouds dark overhead and thunder echoing in the distance. The trees waved, their browning leaves falling with every gust of wind.

“Your pain?” she asked after a solemn sip of her coffee.

He shook his head, as if not believing that she wanted to know. “To some extent, it’s like over-acute consciousness.”

“What does that mean?” she asked thoughtfully.

He made a noise of disappointment. “Have you not read, *Notes from Underground*?”

She thought about it. “Who’s that written by?”

He smiled thinly. “Dostoyevsky.”

She shook her head. “No, he’s a Muggle. I’ve never prioritized reading Muggle literary fiction. If I read Muggle books, they’re generally nonfiction. There’s too much knowledge out there for me to spend much time reading for fun.”
“Alas,” Snape said, and suddenly said, in a low, poetic sort of voice, “Well: It’s a ‘sort of secret abnormal, despicable enjoyment, acutely conscious that that day I had committed a loathsome action again, that what was done could never be undone, and secretly, inwardly gnawing, gnawing at myself for it, tearing and consuming myself till at last the bitterness turned into a sort of shameful accursed sweetness, and at last—into positive real enjoyment!’” He sighed. “Russians. They have such insight into my condition.”

She put down her coffee and draped her arms around him, wrapping him in the blanket as well. His muscles were stiff to the touch, but halfheartedly returned the embrace.

“It’s somewhat ironic,” he went on miserably. “My mind gnaws on itself. I gnaw on anything I can get in my mouth. Possibly there’s a correlation, on a metaphysical level.”

She didn’t have much of a response. “I mean, if you want to think of it that way, you can,” she said, “but… I mean… I gnaw on everything I can, and I don’t have the same issue.”

This was a lie, though Hermione herself was loathe to admit it. The sensation of her mind gnawing on itself was something she was acutely familiar with, particularly from her school days, but also as recently as her time in the Ministry. She wondered if it had really gone away, or if it was just hidden out of sight lately because of spending so much time caring about Snape and his mental health.

“Really,” he said acerbically, challenging her. He seemed to call her bluff, and he stared into her eyes for a few moments, then turned to look out the window again and sipped his coffee again with a facial expression of resignation.

“I… I mean,” Hermione said, reluctantly, “I’m anxious sometimes…”

He snorted, and finished the last of his coffee. “Sometimes?”

“...I thought I was doing better,” she said grumpily. “And you definitely haven’t seen me at my worst.”

“Maybe because I’m actually competent at doing what you want me to do, compared to Potter and Weasley,” Snape said with a grimace.

“Now, that’s not fair,” Hermione said, putting the blanket on his shoulders and untangling herself from it. She went to the closet, arms crossed to keep warm, and put on the dressing-gown he’d given her. His eyes followed her nude body as she did so, clearly admiring her figure.

“I think I’m right,” he said with a self-satisfied grumble, watching as she belted the gown. “You trust me to execute projects without constant oversight. I don’t think you’ve ever been able to do that with them.”

“Maybe not,” she conceded, picking up her coffee and sitting on the window-seat. “But I don’t like where this conversation is headed, Severus.”

He opened his mouth to respond, but thought better of it and shook his head. “You’re right. I… apologize.”

“It’s all right,” she said with a sigh. She went back to the desk and picked up some papers. “So, are we going to talk more about what happened earlier this morning?”

“I don’t see a need to,” he said crisply, staring into sky.

“All right,” she returned, and felt her stomach rumble. “Breakfast?”

“More like elevenses,” he said, finally retreating from the window, looking as refreshed as was possible for him. He came over to where she sat at her desk, leaned over, and draped his arms around her as she opened a week’s worth of neglected correspondence, kissing her earlobe and holding her close to his chest.

“Then let’s,” said Hermione, turning to kiss him on the lips and standing.

He cuddled her in his arms for a few moments.

“Let’s be moderate,” he said hesitantly. “I don’t need to be stuffed this morning.”

She pressed her cheek against his soft chest flab and rubbed his delicious round belly. “I understand,” she said, snuggling him close, and he kissed the top of her head.

Then she led him into the kitchenette, where she began to scavenge for something that was remotely edible. Both of them were moderately spooked, it seemed, from the incident with Lowly, and wanted to avoid interaction with the elves for the time being.

Hermione did find some bread mix, and she made impromptu hot cakes. In accordance with his stated desires, she did not cook an exorbitant number - three for herself, five for Severus. There was peach-orange preserves and broken chocolate bits for flavor.

There was something different about cooking for him, compared to just eating what the elves brought them. The smells filled the kitchen, making both of them hungry many minutes before the food was close to ready.

Severus set the table with the cheap second-hand flatware from the cabinets - left over from whoever had lived in the flat last. Then he made himself incredibly unuseful in the kitchen, wrapping himself around her as she stood at the stove, kissing her and fondling her soft bits.

“Please,” she said with a smirk as he licked the sensitive place under her ear, “don’t you have something better to do?”

“You tell me,” he replied salaciously, rubbing her belly with one hand and snaking his other hand under the satin robe to her left breast.

She firmly removed his hand from her breast and settled it on her waist so that she could flip the cakes in the pan with the spatula. “You’re in the way,” she said with some element of teasing.

In response, he sank onto the floor, his hands gliding down her hips, thighs, and legs as he went, and then he stopped touching her and seemed to contort himself into an awkward position on the floor. She twisted her head around her and saw that he was folded in half - he’d propped up his legs on the opposite counter, and was otherwise laying flat on the floor, looking up her skirt between her legs, his head between her feet.

She stepped carefully aside to see his expression; he was smirking, and his eyes were dancing.

“Was that still ‘in the way’?” he asked with a coquettish pout, and she gently kicked his shoulder with her stockinged foot.

“I think you know the answer to that question,” she said, “now how on earth did you get into that position?”

“I’m not entirely sure,” he responded, “but I am sure I won’t be able to get out of it without your gracious assistance.”

“Not while I’m cooking,” she said firmly, and responded by putting down the spatula and grabbing his hands, and (with great effort) dragging his fat arse out of the kitchenette to the living room, where there was a bit more space, and she laughed as he protested feebly.

“Now, stay,” she commanded, and went back to the kitchen, but she took her robe off and left it on a chair in the living room.

“I think you forgot something,” he said, not getting up from where he lay lazily on the floor.

“For your own safety,” she responded with a laugh. “You can gawk at my lady bits all you like without risking a pan falling on your face.”

He snorted. “I was *not* gawking.”

“Well, what were you doing, then?”

“Simply *appreciating.*”

“Appreciate this,” she responded, and grabbed a spoonful of marmalade and took it to where he lay. She spread her legs and crouched over him, giving him a full view while offering the marmalade to his lips. He licked it up greedily from the spoon, then arched his neck and started licking her pussy with the hunger of a starving man.

“Mm,” he murmured, readjusting himself to get a better angle, “You’re so wet.”

“It’s just thinking about how nice and large you are,” she whispered with a gasp as she felt her body preparing to orgasm. “And how much you’re going to enjoy the food I’m making for you.”

“Well then,” he said, a kind of thrilling satisfaction in his eyes. His hand absently wandered to rest on his large belly. “I suppose you really do like this, don’t you.” He seemed as if he could barely believe it.

She began to feel a cramp in her upper thigh, so she stood straight again. “Yes,” she said simply, “I do enjoy it.”

Then she went back to the stove, and barely caught the hotcake in time before it began to burn.

Soon enough breakfast was on the table, and Snape was upright again and in a chair, and Hermione had served them both, and they were eating hungrily.

“This is perfect,” Hermione complimented herself as Snape ploughed through his food. He nodded amiably in response, swallowed, and reached for the orange preserves to lather on the next layer of cake.

“Mmm, more like Exceeds Expectations,” he responded with a humorous glint in his eye.

“What,” Hermione said in mock dismay, “so you don’t want the rest, I take it?”

She reached for his plate and he moved it protectively towards him. “That is *not* what I said,” he said with a mischievous grin. “It merely could be improved.”

“How,” Hermione asked, “could it possibly be improved?”

“In the states,” he responded, filling his mouth with blatant pleasure, “they use warm maple syrup. And butter.”

“I see,” Hermione said, “so I fall short of American standards. That’s a low bar to miss, isn’t it?”

He grinned. “So you would imagine. But haven’t you seen how fat Americans are? They must have something going well for them or they’d look quite different.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and leaned forward. “So now America is the height of culinary offerings. It’s clear you enjoyed yourself there,” she murmured, grabbing a hold of his fat roll and jiggling it in her hands.

He nodded, his face growing red. He took another bite of his food, and a smudge of marmalade stuck to his chin. He reached out his tongue to lick it up, and then wiped his face with the back of his hand as he took another huge bite.

The way his face curled into a state of pure satisfaction at that moment was so intriguing and delightful. She massaged the hill of his upper gut, which was pooching out of the thick rolls of fat around his middle, and he moaned in response, his eyes closed.

Then Hermione moved back to take another bite from her own plate, and as she did so, her hands brushed against her plumpening thighs, sending them into jiggling waves. “Oh, god,” she murmured, and spread her legs urgently, and began to stimulate herself right there on her chair. She was so turned on, she could not wait for Snape to finish his food.

He seemed torn for just the slightest of moments between eating food and eating something else, but swiftly he was on the floor, grasping on the legs of the chair and tonguing her in the most convincing way possible.

She moaned and swore as he used his well-trained tongue on her.

Oh gods, he was ravishing her. There was quite a bit of benefit to his mouth being the most exercised area of his body - there seemed to be no end to his licking and sucking. As she bucked her hips, he put two chubby fingers in her vagina and rubbed with them fiercely, and she couldn’t open her eyes because of the amount of pleasure she was feeling.

He kept at it until she patted him on the head and collapsed against the back of the chair, at which point he was panting for breath and clearly exhausted. He sat back on his wide arse and breathed deeply.

Hermione slipped off the chair to join him on the floor, where she nestled herself in his lap and reached up to massage the corners of his jaw.

“That’s… so nice,” he murmured once he had regained his breath.

“Hope you’re ready to finish your food,” Hermione said firmly, accio’ing the plate and fork from the table. “You’ve got to keep your strength up.”

“Mm,” he said, opening his mouth.

Hermione put the hot cakes in his mouth, letting him slowly chew between bites. The sheer euphoria he was experiencing was tangible in every smacking noise of his lips, every gurgle of his stomach, and every little moan he had with every bite.

Alas, too soon it was all gone. It was clear to her that he was still hungry to a degree, but he patted his tummy and rubbed it.

“Are you still hungry?” she asked, “you can finish mine, if you want.”

“No,” he said, leaning back against the wall, “I’m quite satisfied. You need to finish your own food. I have no desire to see you become a formless waif before my eyes, if I have anything to do with it.”

“I see,” she said with a laugh, and took her plate from the table, and a pillow from the main sofa, and sat with him on the floor. She leaned back and accepted as he served her bite after bite of the rich cakes.

As it happened, she was quite glad that he hadn’t accepted her offer of her leftovers, because she ate every bite and still was painfully hungry afterwards.

“Is there more in the kitchen?” he asked as he eased himself up off the floor. She shook her head.

“No, and there’s barely anything else either.”

Snape didn’t believe her, and went to look for himself. Hermione cradled her stomach, which was begging for more food, and she took a look at herself. Her tummy was distinctly convex, finally claiming a victory in how it began to spill out from under her breasts, and was finally beginning to look substantial. As she curled up, her belly squished into adorable rolls of fat, perfect for grabbing onto. Her breasts rested on them, heavy and squishy. But her belly was what was blocking up her line of vision when she looked down - a refreshing change from her breasts occupying that position of prestige.

Snape came back into the room empty-handed.

“You’re right,” he said with tangible disappointment in his voice. He extended his hands to her, and helped her up. She mopingly went to the sofa and sat upon it.

“Oh,” he breathed as he looked at her, his mouth clearly watering, and she looked down at herself. Her belly spread across her thighs and made for an inviting plump lump of fat. He sat down next to her and wrapped his arms around her, nestling his plump fingers in the crevice formed between her tummy and her thigh.

“You’re so delicious,” he whispered, kissing her cheek. “So, it appears you are still hungry?”

“Quite,” she said, grumpy. “Let’s go to town, shall we?”

He took a deep breath and did not respond for a few moments. He seemed entirely too preoccupied by touching her soft, supple skin. The way he gazed at her belly was far too telling. His fingers ran over the stretch marks there and massaged them gently.

“Snape?” she said, and he jerked slightly, startled.

“Erm. Yes. Madam Puddifoot’s?” he asked, and it seemed that there was an element of fear in his voice.

“Not really,” she said with a smirk, “that seems cruel and unusual torture. What about the pub in town? The one that isn’t Aberforth’s.”

He did not answer her right away, so she intuited that he wasn’t in favor of this plan.

“Erm,” she asked, “is there somewhere else you’re thinking of?”

He waited several long moments, his chin on her shoulder, arms wrapped around her, continuing to finger her soft flesh. Finally, with some amount of embarrassment, he confessed, “Well… erm… I really would prefer the former.”

Hermione was so surprised she laughed. “Are you *really* saying you’d prefer to go to Madam Puddifoot’s over a quiet anonymous pub?”

He looked uncomfortable, and quickly retracted, “It’s fine. The pub is fine.”

Hermione just laughed. “No, I’m entirely ambivalent. I mean, if it were a Hogsmeade weekend, I wouldn’t be keen on going to Madam Puddifoot’s, but if you have a preference…”

“It *is* a Hogsmeade weekend,” Snape said, standing up and going to mess with some papers on the coffee table as an excuse to not look at her. “And I would like to go there, even so.”

Hermione grinned broadly. “Are you serious?”

“Yes,” he said testily, as if insulted, not looking at her. “I have it on good authority that it’s a pre-requisite to becoming someone’s someone, when you’re at Hogwarts.”

She felt like she couldn’t stop smiling. “I can’t believe it,” she said with as gentle a taunt as she could muster. “Severus Snape, you’re asking me to Madam Puddifoot’s. On a public date.”

He still wasn’t looking at her. “They have good coffee.”

“I… I suppose,” she said with a smile. “I don’t know that anyone’s asked me to go there before.”

“Then let me be the first,” he said solemnly, turning to stare at her.

Their eyes met, and there was such an intensity to his gaze that it nearly frightened her. There were so many emotions that he seemed to be permitting to the surface of his eyes - trust, possessiveness, desire, pride, and fear.

Fear of what, she had to wonder. But fundamentally pride seemed to be the most overwhelming emotion she could read, and she stood up and let her lips melt into his.

After a few moments of snogging, she let go and patted his fine round rump.

“Give me a moment to dress,” she said, practically bouncing into the next room.

Chapter Text

They arrived at Madam Puddifoot’s at just the perfect time. Most of the folks in there were older students, the more mature ones who were less interested in getting a sugar rush from Honeyduke’s. So the tea shop was bustling, but still managed to be intimate. A disgusting amount of chintz and lace comprised the decor, though in a perverse way it was charming.

“Cloying atmosphere,” Snape said, as if this expedition hadn’t been his idea in the first place, and he stuck his nose in the menu almost as soon as they were seated at a table. Hermione laughed a little to herself and did the same. She was quick to decide on what she wanted, so there was time for her to look around her and see if there were any students she recognized.

Of course there were. Sixth-years Josephine Lestrange and Geoffrey Norell were hotly engaged in a jealous staring contest between themselves (apparently over the bashful and intimidated Michaela Secundis) and were too occupied to notice Hermione and Severus. But seventh-year Frank Graysteel was a little more alert - he seemed to be waiting for someone, and was trying (but failing) to be nonchalant, with a novel in his hand. He covertly peeked over the edge of the book every time the door jangled and glanced first at the person who came in, and then, given boredom, at Hermione and Severus.

Hermione took Severus’ hand and ran her thumb over his fingers. Without looking up at her, he surreptitiously squeezed back. His stomach audibly rumbled, but he ignored it and sipped at the mug of tea, which a server had plunked upon their table when they arrived.

Seeing this gesture of affection, Frank Graysteel’s eyebrows shot up, and he tried unsuccessfully to hide his stare. He dropped his book, and took his time bending down to retrieve it again, curiosity emanating from behind his glasses.

Hermione knew her classes would be a little more awkward from this point forward, as everyone speculated about her and the former potions master. She wondered how people would react. She fully expected people to be confounded. But, she thought, as she looked at her lover settle deeper into the most comfortable chair in the room with a big enough seat to accommodate him, who else would the public actually approve of her dating, other than Ron?

Better Snape, who was respected for his intelligence, feared for his temper, and romanticized for his long-suffering admiration of Lily Potter, than some weedy Newt Scamander-type like Graysteel, who couldn’t keep up with her own intelligence, temper, and passion.

But as she was to discover, the public also seemed uncharitably favored towards her being Snape’s partner, just as much (if not more than) the public seemed uncharitably favored towards him being her partner.

Example A: Madam Puddifoot herself was there to greet them the moment Severus lowered the menu, her plump face dimpled and her mood effusive.

“My dear Professor Snape,” she gushed, “It’s been so long. And who is this with you… Miss Granger? Oh!” She fanned herself with her hand quite prettily, her other hand on her apron. “You look so much younger than I thought,” Madam added to Hermione.

That was the last amount of attention she paid to Hermione. Madam Puddifoot turned her entire body very deliberately towards the former potions master. The tea-shop owner was very stout and had a shiny black bun, which was just a notch less tight than McGonagall’s. As her gaze moved back to Severus, her hand drifted up to twist her jangly earring,. Her eyes fluttered at him. “I’m so glad to see you here. I do hope you’ll become a regular.”

Snape had no response for this, so Madam Puddifoot tried another tactic. “Do you have… any *questions* about the menu?”

Snape blinked once or twice at her, and shook his head, looking for all the world like a cat that had been given an unwilling bath. “None,” he said firmly, snapping the menu shut and thrusting it at her. “I’ll have the full monty, but no bubble and squeak.”

“Full English,” repeated Madam Puddifoot, looking as delighted as a cat offered cream, “no bubble and squeak.”

“Right,” he said with a roll of his eyes, letting them rest where they met Hermione’s. “Darling?”

Hermione smiled faintly, not particularly pleased at seeing the way Madam Puddifoot’s finger curled the loose hair that drifted down her cheek - in a way that showed she was interested in Severus.

He seemed to not notice, however, as he fiddled with the corner of the doily that served as a placemat, worrying a loose string.

“Here, let me get that,” Madam Puddifoot said with a genteel - but no less suggestive - note in her voice. She drew a tiny pair of scissors from a clasp at her belt, and she grasped her hand on Snape’s shoulder (in what was clearly a staged accident) to catch her balance and leaned her heavy large breasts practically in his face as she leaned forward. She inserted her hand between Severus’ and the doily deftly, and snipped the little bit of string.

“Erm,” Severus said, but it was too late - the string was snipped, and swept off the table by Madam Puddifoot’s plump hands. She put the tiny bit of thread in her pocket, and patted it warmly.

“There,” she said, and as if she noticed a speck of dust on his shoulder, she brushed him off with her hand. Then, smiling innocently, she turned to Hermione. “So sorry about that. And what will you be having, dear?”

Hermione’s smile was barely civil at this point. “What he’s having,” she said, fierce with solidarity for Snape’s awkwardness, and also because Madam Puddifoot’s intentions were so patently clear.

Madam Puddifoot took a gander at Hermione, looking the girl up and down, and very slightly shook her head, tsking. “Coming right out,” she said with a low, disapproving mutter, and Madam Puddifoot left their table.

“Sheesh,” Hermione said once the woman was out of earshot. “What a performance!”

“What performance?” Snape asked, yawning and stretching his legs out under the table, clearly enjoying the comfortable chair. He looked relaxed, and hungry.

Hermione’s eyes blazed. “Are you really going to pretend that didn’t happen?” she demanded, leaning towards him. “That her double standards weren’t so painfully obvious?”

“I don’t understand,” Snape said, clearly confused. He moved to sit up slightly. Hermione’s jaw dropped.

“I… I can’t,” she said.

He looked no less confused, but the toe of his shoe gently nudged at one of her calves. His face was somehow both sharp, but also thoughtful, and Hermione decided to give up for the moment.

“Oblivious much,” she muttered, and shaking her head, she cast a customized flatten-surface charm. The teacups and flowers and doilies flattened on the table, and a semi-transparent chessboard, complete with pieces, appeared in an overlay.

Snape had the good taste to look impressed. “Clever,” he intoned, and pressed his finger to the checkered board. It went straight through. Then he moved his knight from behind the battle lines to the board. It operated same as any other chess piece composed of regular matter, and stayed where he put it. “Is it an illusion?”

“Partly,” Hermione said, with a grin. “Something I worked up in the forest of Dean during the last year of the war. We didn’t have much, and we had to make do with what we had. Do you play much?”

“No,” he answered carefully, “though I did really get into board games in America.”

The idea of Snape playing Snakes and Ladders popped into Hermione’s head, and she burst out laughing.

He looked annoyed. “Oh, come on,” he said, and moved a piece from her side of the board.

“Hey,” she said and tried to take it back, and barely got to it in time before he placed it down. “Not fair.”

“Then stop laughing and play,” he said testily, but she could tell there was good humor behind it.

So she focused, and they played. Now, Hermione thought she was really good after years of playing against Ron. But Snape was soundly trouncing her by the time they were five moves in, and Hermione’s king was starting a futile attempt to escape a circle by the time their food arrived.

Madam Puddifoot was clearly not in the habit of serving most of her customers, as was easily observed by anyone who noticed her clean-aproned young busgirls. But she brought their plates out herself. “There we go,” she said comfortingly, as though they were impatient children, laying down the hot sizzling dishes, “we’re all taken care of, love.” She seemed to be speaking to Snape specifically, and this time he picked up on what was happening, casting a questioning glance at Hermione. Madam Puddifoot, for her part, grabbed Snape’s napkin. “I asked the cook to put on a few extra sausage for you, dearie,” she said, making a move to put Snape’s napkin on his lap.

He intercepted her hands deftly, grasping them tightly at the wrists. Madam Puddifoot was caught slightly off balance, and she leaned forward with a gasp, her face approaching Snape’s to the point where they could have been touching noses.

He didn’t say anything for a moment, and his eyes firmly staring into the hapless tea shop owner’s. Finally, with disgust, he stated, “Thank you, Madam Puddifoot, you have certainly been *more* than helpful.” Only then did he drop her wrists and turn to make contact with Hermione’s eyes. He seemed to be searching for a sign of her approval.

For her part, Madam Puddifoot looked embarrassed. “I… I’ll be telling the girls to refresh your tea,” she said, and scurried off to the safety behind her main counter.

Hermione smirked as she took a forkful of grilled mushroom. “That was something,” she said, moving the chess board a little bit higher, so they could see their food better.

Snape shook his head, burying himself in his food, not meeting her eyes. “Tell me next time, please.”

“Tell you… what? Why?” Hermione asked, “don’t you notice it when these things happen?”

He closed his eyes as he shoveled an entire slice of black pudding in his mouth. “No,” he said, after swallowing contentedly, “I don’t.” He grimaced, still not looking up.

Hermione gazed at him. “Really?”

He didn’t meet her eyes or answer, but he was clearly uncomfortable with the set of events. “Gods,” he said, and that was all.

He proceeded to stab his eggs savagely, straight in the centers, letting the gooey yolks smear all over his plate.

“Hey,” Hermione’s hand sneaked across the table. “Hey.” She felt his fingers relax into her hand, and he took a deep breath, then looked up at her.

There was that same sense of despair in his face that she’d witnessed the night before. And as she looked into his trying-to-be-blank eyes, she was overwhelmed by a sense of her own helplessness in helping him. There wasn’t anything she could do to make him feel better, not really. She could say things, but they might not seep in.

“It’s okay,” she whispered. He gave her a look that clearly read, ‘It isn’t,’ but he took a piece of toast, erased the remaining yolk from his plate with the bread, and put it in his mouth, not breaking his gaze with her for a moment.

She squeezed his hand, and put down her fork.

“Do you want to go?” she asked.

He shook his head in the negative, and silently went on to chew a sausage.

Hermione didn’t know what to do, so she cleared away the game from the air. He looked at her askingly.

“You were about to win,” she answered, waving her hand where the board had been.

He nodded, not arguing, and they finished their meal in relative silence.

He seemed better after having paid the bill and gone outside. The weather was chilly, and he took deep breaths of air as they stepped out into the blowing autumn leaves.

“It’s getting colder,” he observed as they walked down the cobblestones of Hogsmeade.

Hermione nodded, pressing herself closely to him, and he tightened his grip on her arm. It was remarkable how he made her feel so safe with just that simple touch, and she felt herself thrill.

They sat down on a bench facing Montgroot’s Roots, a magical plant nursery with a greenhouse that rivalled Hogwarts’ for variety.

“I’m enjoying today, Madam Busybody notwithstanding,” Hermione said as they placed themselves there. Severus couldn’t respond at first; they’d been walking briskly uphill, and he was a bit out of breath. His cheeks flushed as red as dirigibles, and the rest of his face was almost porcelain white. As he breathed deeply, he tucked her into his arms, and gently hid his nose against the softness of her neck, inhaling her scent.

“I am too,” he said, finally regulating his breath at a normal speed. His lips pressed against her skin, and he held her tighter. “I’m sorry about my fucked up emotions.” There was a choking feeling behind his words.

She wriggled her arms out of the cozy place between their bodies and patted his back warmly. “You’re getting through some stuff,” she said, “and you hold it against yourself more than I hold it against you. Thank you for letting me witness it.”

“Yeah,” he replied, which seemed to be all he could say. Then, with a deep breath, he leaned back a bit and studied her. “Why do you want to be with an old, broken fool as me?” he asked rhetorically, “You’re so pretty and smart.”

He sounded like a child, and it broke her heart to hear him like this. But she smiled steadily at him in response, which made him grab her roughly and bring her lips to his.

His kisses were stern, at first, but they became secretly grateful, as if he didn’t want to admit that he needed them as much as he did.

“Ew!” cried a cadre of first-years walking by.

Hermione and Snape ignored them, instead kissing each other all the more urgently.

They broke away at long last, both of their moods improved.

“All right,” Hermione said, “we had better get back to the castle.”

“What for?” he asked, standing with some exertion. “Let’s go into the woods. It’s clear I need some exercise.”

“Aw,” Hermione said “why do you say that?”

He snorted. “If I’m having this much trouble walking up a hill, that doesn’t bode well.”

“Okay,” Hermione affirmed, “as long as it’s not for reasons having to do with aesthetics. Because, just in case you don’t know, I find you *very* aesthetically pleasing.”

He stole another kiss from her, his only response to that, and they heaved themselves up and walked down the hill to where a forest path began, along the rim of the Forbidden Forest (the part that wasn’t forbidden).

“It’s a good day for a walk,” Hermione said, though she wished she had worn thicker socks. She was wearing a heavy velvet cloak that, granted, was not all that good for forest expeditions, but was incredibly picturesque.

Snape nodded. He wasn’t really as out of shape as he thought he was, Hermione decided, watching him. He didn’t waddle, though his succulent arse was truly as beautiful and round as a ripe cantaloupe. His thighs were thick and scraped together with every step, jiggling with the aftershock of his movements.

His belly was the part that gave him the most trouble, though, as he had to maneuver the monstrosity through space with every step, and he wasn’t entirely comfortable with it. Especially as they started to climb a stone staircase that wound its way through the goldening trees, he would awkwardly twist and turn in uncomfortable-looking ways that revealed that he had only recently acquired such a massive tummy. It got in the way, and fundamentally he was not used to it. He was used to being an incredibly fit and thin person, and he’d never tried to be a fit and fat person.

Hermione, being a lifelong nerd who was more comfortable on the couch than off it, had never bothered to develop fitness, but she knew enough about it from books. She wondered what it must be like, to be carrying that enormous protuberance in front of her. She couldn’t feel confident that her own experience with her little mushy belly was enough data to really know what it was like.

She herself was panting just as much, if not more, than Severus by the time they stopped mid-staircase, and she had to bend over and catch her breath while he leaned against a wooden rail that was there, also breathing heavily.

But watching him struggle was simultaneously a turn-on for her, though also she felt incredibly bad for being turned on by his straining. They started walking again, and she deliberately held back behind him because she loved watching the way his fat moved on his body, enjoyed hearing him huff and puff as he struggled in front of her, and sensing his overall frustration with his body.

They finally got to the top of the hill, and Snape immediately seated himself on a long sun-warmed stone, panting. Hermione also clambered onto it and lay down, curling herself around him slightly.

“Let’s rest a bit,” Hermione said, pulling at the hood of his cloak, and he nodded and lay back with her, his chest rising and falling steadily as he recuperated.

Eventually, he recovered enough to pay a little more attention to her, and he smirked as he patted her belly. It jiggled, and made noise as her second breakfast sloshed inside her. His fingers hooked themselves in the fatty place at the top of her belly, and his wrist started to move in a skilled vibrato. This motion set her entire belly pulsing with waves of flesh, and Hermione felt her breath catch again, her cervix tighten, her butt fat jiggle as she tightened her glutes, and an overwhelming hunger to be penetrated.

“Come here,” she begged, and pulled at Snape’s belt. “Please. Fuck me. I’m dying here.”

He laughed in a rumbling way. “In the middle of the forest?”

“Yes!” She moaned. “I’ll be quick, I promise.”

“How enticing you make it sound,” he quipped, but he was already getting up and yanking down his trousers and pants. He wasn’t very hard, but one hand worked at himself while his other one scrambled to make contact with her own underparts. She moaned as soon as his fingers dove under her panties, and just the slightest brush of his finger against her peachy pubic fat made her shiver and moan.

Hermione, at this, began rubbing her belly, slapping it, making it into the greatest visual spectacle it could be without taking her clothes off. And then she realized, this was silly - she didn’t need to take off all her clothes to bare her tummy! So she pushed her cardigan up, and her collared shirt, and revealed her rounding belly in all its splendor, shaking joyously as she stimulated it.

The very sight made Severus moan too, and he forcefully yanked down her underwear. It was progressively too small, and got stuck at her mid-thigh area, and he chortled with glee.

“Getting too big for your pants, eh,” he murmured, stroking himself furiously. “I need to get a better look of what you like with your delicious rump pouring out of them. But not right now - now you need my cock inside you. You’re not able to wait for me to fully savor the sight of your growing body, not right now. You need to be fucked. By me. Now. For whatever reason. Right where anyone coming up the path could see.”

Hermione groaned, and spread her legs as far as they could with the constraint of her panties, which were like handcuffs, and in fact the elastic was cutting into her skin. Snape saw this and, with his bare hands, grabbed the panties and ripped them down the crotch. Or at least tried to - the result was that said panties had a reinforced crotch (very sensible panties they were), and he had to actually use his teeth in order to get the fabric ripping.

Not that Hermione was complaining. The undies were quite wet with her sweat and desire, and it was incredibly sexy to see this enormous man with her undies in his teeth.

So without further ado, he cast the necessary spells and rammed himself into her. The stone on which she lay was the perfect position for him to slam himself into her, and his bit of exercise seemed to have invigorated his efforts. So the net effect was better than Hermione could remember, even with him.

The stone was starting to feel cold, so she had to stop and place her cloak underneath her exposed buttocks.

The feeling of sexual fireworks was utterly complete at that point. Severus’ member was going in and out at such a rapid pace, Hermione felt like it couldn’t actually be attached to a human being, much less one as large and chubby as Snape. He himself growled as he took her, gnashing his teeth and completely losing himself in the act.

But all good things must end, so with a final shudder, Severus spent himself inside her, and groaning and gasping, he crawled onto the stone next to her, pulling his pants halfway up.

“That was amazing,” Hermione whispered, feeling like people said marijuana made people feel like - she was gazing up at the clouds above them, and feeling every bit as high as they were.

“Feeling is mutual,” gasped Severus, who was sweating with the exertion.

They lay there with closed eyes for a while, breathing in the scent of the woods around them, and the sounds of the occasional bird tweeting.

But hurriedly, a whispering - “Quick, let’s go,” - and Hermione sat up as if electrocuted. She was just in time to see the retreating form of Frank Graysteel, holding the hand of another student Hermione didn’t recognize, and they were running at top speed down the stairs.

Snape groaned. “Well,” he said, “fuck.”

Hermione began to giggle. “Oh gods,” she murmured, “poor kids.”

“Serve them right for sneaking off against supervision,” Snape said a little more sternly. He turned his head and looked into her eyes, his face stoic.

Hermione shook her head and began full-out laughing.

Snape seemed inclined to remain properly embarrassed by the incident, but Hermione couldn’t stop laughing.

So he smirked. “You’re ridiculous,” he said, kissing her, “you really don’t care?”

“No,” Hermione said grandly, feeling benevolent and giddy, “I’m in love with Severus Snape. I don’t give a shit who knows that.”

This utterance seemed to freeze Severus - his body grew still, and he seemed to stop breathing as he processed this information.

“Erm,” he said, and Hermione realized that she’d possibly gone into dangerous territory. She apologetically sat up to look him in the eye.

He sat up too, more cautious than she.

“So,” he said, and his tongue passed over his lips thoughtfully. “They say it’s easier for a woman to fall in love with a man, and that it’s also easier for a woman to fall out of love with a man. And that when a man falls in love, it is more difficult for him to get in and out.”

Hermione snorted. “We don’t live in the 1950s anymore, Severus.”

“Hold on” he amended, “I don’t mean to say that’s true… after all, where does a gender-nonconforming person fit into that schema? ...what I mean to say is… Hermione…” He reached up and touched her hair, which was nearly golden in the autumn sun, “I’m not ready to say that I’m in love with you. At least not yet.”

Hermione felt a lump in her throat - oh, she was so stupid! - but she nodded. “Of course,” she said, “I was speaking without thinking.”

“It’s all right,” he said, and stroked her, and pulled her gently into an embrace. “I also don’t want to make it seem as if… that isn’t something that I want with you. In fact, all evidence points towards me experiencing loving feelings towards you this very moment, for example - my sense of completeness when I’m with you, the.... the bewildering drive to want to see you all the time… my heartbeat when I join with you… my desire to have sex with you constantly… I mean,” he went on, stumblingly, “It’s just… I don’t have a lot of experience with love, so please forgive me if I am cautious to say that I love a person. Is that fair?”

“Certainly,” Hermione said, though she felt wounded. She knew intellectually that he wasn’t denying the feelings they’d been sharing together, but he just wanted to be slower and confirm that it was something he could safely invest in before he committed.

Emotionally, she felt like he felt she wasn’t worth committing to. She felt like if there really was love here, he’d have to break his rules in order to engage in it fully. And he wasn’t willing to set aside his conventions and needs in order to just enjoy being with her.

And that truly stung.

“So,” she confirmed, trying to dispel the lump that grew in her throat, “you just need more time before you feel you can safely be in love with me.”

He breathed out, apparently feeling understood. “Yes,” he murmured.

“So,” Hermione said, “despite your actual admitted feelings, you don’t want to say you’re in love with me, even though you feel like you’re in love with me.”

Severus seemed to be realizing that he had said the wrong thing, and a cautious, ‘Yes?’ peeled out of his voice, inviting her to say more.

Hermione turned away from him and said, fiercely, “I’m not sure if you understand me. I don’t think it’s fair for you to hold out on me in the saying of something as essential and affirming as ‘I love you,’ especially when your only good reason is convention or something.”

Severus was puzzled and perplexed, and there was an anger behind those feelings.

“So, what are you saying?” he asked, clearly bracing himself for an answer he didn’t like.

Hermione felt like screaming at him, but she kept her voice calm as she answered him. It was a heroic effort. “If you feel a feeling,” she said, “say you feel it. Don’t hide it. Love is not forever, Severus, even if you are desperate for it to be. You don’t have to love me tomorrow just because you love me today. Love isn’t a commitment. It’s a feeling.”

“And that’s where we differ,” Severus said, his voice firm as steel. “As it happens, I *do* love forever, Granger. Every single person I have ever loved is part of me for the rest of my life. When you fuck me, you also fuck Lily Potter and Erika Holmes.”

“Now that’s just creepy,” Hermione said, despite herself.

Severus looked fierce, but ignored the comment. “For me, Granger, love is a commitment. It’s more than that. It’s an alliance. It’s me saying, I will forever let myself be changed by you. When I love someone, I look at the world with them through their eyes, and I will possess and be possessed by them. For me to love someone, Granger, is to take a part of their soul, and make it part of my own. So forgive me,” he said, with a huff, “if I’m not prepared to make that kind of promise after a few weeks of a relationship.”

Hermione found herself close to tears, but she at least could understand where he was coming from.

“I see,” she said, and took a deep breath. “I hear you. I think you’re wrong, but I do hear you.”

Snape shrugged. “Maybe it means I’m not very good at polyamory,” he mused, and it sounded like he’d never thought of this before. “But I can’t change this basic principle of my being.”

Hermione nodded, and took a deep breath.

As she became calmer, he began to stroke her hair, and cuddle her softly.

“For what it’s worth,” he said again, but there was little hope in his voice as he said it, “I’m certainly in a place where it’s possible to love you in the near future, given time.”

“Fine,” Hermione said, and sighed.

They sat there for several minutes, and Hermione began to pull on her clothes, minus her lost underpants.

“What are you doing?” asked Severus, curious but not pressing her.

“I’m headed back to the castle,” she said, and added as an afterthought, “are you coming with?”

He looked at her for a few minutes, sadly, and said, “Erm. No. I want to sit here for a while yet.”

Hermione shook her head and walked away. “See you later?” he called, feebly, not believing in it.

Hermione didn’t look back. “I’ll slip you a note when I’m ready,” she responded, and she headed down the hill.

As she was nearly out of earshot, she heard him cursing at the heavens.

 

………
Hi readers! I’ve had a rough job situation the past few months. But I just got hired by a really cool org, so maybe we’ll see more consistent updates in the new year!

Chapter Text

Hermione wasn't sure how she felt once she returned to her room. As she curled up in her messy bed, she felt the echoes of Snape's presence there. A few long hairs were left on the pillow, and her mattress retained his imprint despite him having vacated the spot so much earlier. The house-elves had done the dishes in the sink, at least.

She felt like she had lost him, though she realized she was being melodramatic. She hadn't lost him. She needed space to think.

There was no question in her mind whether or not this relationship was worth it. Being with Severus made her feel... incredible. Some people might have found his negativity too toxic, his depression too heavy, his sexual inclinations perverse. But she didn't feel that about any of those things.

No, she didn't doubt that Severus was a good match for her, and moreover, she didn't doubt that he loved her at least as much as she loved him.

But could she accept that he wasn't able to give himself over to it completely?

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, letting her head rest on the clean white pillows. Yes, she could accept it. It was hard, bur she had to accept where he was at, right now. She couldn't convince him to be different than he was. That wasn't what a relationship was about. You either like the person and what they bring to the table, or get out of the relationship. You can grow together, and alongside each other, but there's no changing a person when you're in a partnership with them.

Change, after all, comes from within. And Hermione knew that. But damn if it wasn't inconvenient and uncomfortable for her.

So as she lay there, she thought about her poor lover feeling angry and scared in the forest. She knew he'd headed back soon after her - she was certain the only reason he held back was to give her space.

She rose up and grabbed her wand. It took her a few moments to get over her anger and think of something happy - the way he'd nuzzled her and kissed her so warmly, the feeling of the cold stone on her skin as he'd ravished her, and the way the sunlight glinted through the translucent leaves of the forest... and then the otter emerged from her wand.

"Hi sweetheart," she whispered to the otter, who she privately called Kyle. She brushed the creature's glowing fur and Kyle danced around her, reproachfully. He knew he was an apology. "Go to Severus and tell him I'm sorry..."

The otter seemed to set his mouth grimly, and he batted at the oyster that he carried in his hand, not opening it for her message.

"Okay," Hermione replied, "Tell him, that I'm very sorry I acted so immature. And that now that I've had a moment to myself, I'm not mad, and that I want to see him tonight. Or, if not, tomorrow is also fine."

She sent the otter away with a whisk of her hand, and Kyle disappeared out her window.

Hermione took a moment to relax there in the cool bed, and picked Severus' hairs off the pillow and put them on her side-table, not quite willing to part with them. They were a tangible reminder that he existed, and that they had something together.

She then proceeded to get out her students' papers and work idly on grading. It was tedious work, but a necessary part of the job, of course.

It was no surprise that she received a knock on the door as the afternoon went on, and Hermione quickly pulled her hair into something presentable and answered it.

It was a surprise that McGonagall was the one standing there, a curious light in her eyes.

"Hermione," she said gracefully, and at Hermione's gesture she walked into the room. "I'm glad I caught you. How are you this fine Saturday?"

"Fine," Hermione answered, a little embarrassed to be found grading in bed, instead of a more respectable place like the desk or table. As it happened, she was embarrassed at the mess of her living room - while there was space for two pudgy people on the couch, none of the other chairs were clear, all was covered in books. Snape's laptop was in there still, now that Hermione realized it, and she tried to ignore it.

"I'm glad," Minerva said, and seated herself in the space on the couch, primly, trying not to disrupt a leaning tower of reading materials on the opposite end. "So, I just wanted to see how you are doing, regarding that paperwork you were going to fill out."

Hermione tried desperately not to blush. "Hm. About that. I'm not actually going to be filling it out, after all."

"Ah," Minerva said, her lips firm. "Well then. I suppose that's all I wanted to ask about, really."

"Erm," Hermione said, "that's it?"

McGonagall nodded, but there seemed to be some secret amusement in her eyes.

Hermione took a deep breath. "No, that's not it. What can I help you with?"

McGonagall smiled. "Well. Heavens. I mean, I don't want to be prying into your personal business."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Really? You don't want to pry?"

"But I must be curious, just from a professional standpoint," returned McGonagall with a hint of humor. "I heard a rumor today that was... very interesting."

"Rumor away," Hermione responded, clearing off one of the armchairs so that she had a place for herself to sit.

McGonagall looked humored. "I'm hearing that have had the good fortune to find yourself a beaux."

While this was certainly true, Hermione flushed red. "You might say that."

The smile in McGonagall's eyes was not wavering. "I'm glad to hear it," she said, and she sighed. "To be truthful, I'm glad to hear it is Severus. I've always worried about the poor boy, and he's certainly not an easy person to tolerate."

"He's changed," Hermione responded, thoughtfully. "He's not like he used to be. He's..." She paused. "He's different now."

McGonagall gently clucked her tongue. "That's certainly evident, dear."

But it was clear that Minerva really didn't understand, not like Hermione did. "In other ways, too," Hermione added, "He's not as bitter as he used to be."

The headmistress seemed to hear her. "Hermione," McGonagall said, "I'm sure that he has. Time has healing properties for all of us. But that being said," she continued, "We cannot forget how he used to be. He is famous for having always loved a woman who wasn't his own. I just don't want to see you be hurt by him."

Hermione was shocked by this pronouncement, and stood up. "What are you saying?" she asked, her tone dangerous.

The old woman who sat there was thoughtful, and meek. "I don't know," she said, clearly regretting having said anything. "Just... remember that sometimes we can be blind to the failings of people we want to see the best of."

The blood in Hermione's veins boiled, and especially given that this conversation was coming on the heels of her previous anxiety regarding Snape's affections. "You sound like Dumbledore," she said coldly, and Minerva's face changed, became darker.

"Don't ever say that to me," McGonagall said, her voice tight with anger. "I am not, and never will be, like Albus."

"Prove it," Hermione said, "because today you haven't convinced me. You're meddling," she said, and as she spoke she was almost surprised at what she was saying. "That's what Dumbledore always did. He always acted mysterious and meddled in everyone's affairs."

Then, in an instant, something else clicked into place. "And what's more," Hermione added, her frustration growing, "did you think you were being clever by putting up a blank wall when I complained about Severus' legilemency incident? Because I don't appreciate not being taken seriously when I confide in someone I trust about something that bothered me."

McGonagall had the good sense to look abashed at this accusation.

"Well," Hermione demanded. "Did you, or did you not, purposefully stonewall me?"

"I can't excuse myself," Minerva said, "I truly can't, Hermione. All I can say is, I thought I was acting for the best."

"How reassuring," Hermione said sarcastically, "thanks for your concern."

"I really didn't want to see him develop a divide from the other staff so early in the school year," McGonagall said weakly. "I knew that if the system moved forward too swiftly to condemn him before he'd had a chance to prove he was different... that no one would see how he had changed." She sighed. "He didn't have to change an awful lot. It only benefited Albus for people to think Severus was evil, chaotic, and malicious. But I knew him better, and I saw him as simply broken. And broken people don't get second chances, not in this cruel world. Not unless we make an effort to give it to them."

Hermione shook her head. "Headmistress, I think you made the wrong decision for the right reasons."

McGonagall raised her hands, subdued. "Perhaps. Only time will tell."

"Time has told," Hermione said, reluctantly, "that he did apologize for his actions relatively swiftly."

McGonagall looked as though she wanted to be triumphant, her faith in Severus being proven right. But Hermione wouldn't stand for that. "However," Hermione said, "that does not change the fact that you yourself did the wrong thing by not prosecuting him. Even he saw that," Hermione went on, "and he scrubbed cauldrons as penance."

The headmistress looked shocked, until Hermione added, "At his own insistence."

A silence settled over them, and the mantel clock ticked loudly.

"I think," Hermione said, breaking the cold quiet, "that you protest too quickly on Severus' behalf. That's clear from this incident. But does this really come from a place of protectiveness for an underdog in whom you have absolute faith," she said, her voice growing frigid, "or is it actually a lack of faith in his own social abilities?"

McGonagall said, tremblingly, "How *dare* you. Of course it comes from a place of faith."

"Really," Hermione said, and she realized she was going too far, but she couldn't stop herself. "Because in this situation, I'm reminded of when my housemate, Gloria, had an owl that had to be put down because it was too savage, too wild. She insisted it was other people that had provoked it. But anyone could see that it was not the case."

McGonagall stood. "No," she said vehemently, "You don't know what the *hell* you are talking about. You think because you've been dating him for a few weeks that all of a sudden, you know him better than I do? Well, my dear, you *don't.* You never saw how they ganged up on him, in the Order. They made him stand outside in the rain sometimes, and wouldn't let him in. They bullied him day in and day out. And no one did a thing about it. They never tried to protect him or give him advice or support him. They saw him as strategically important, but they wouldn't have invited him to their childrens' weddings when peacetime came.

"AND YET," she said, in a clear, crisp voice, "He stayed true. Of course after Albus' death, we doubted him - everyone did - but I, I should have known better. Because, Hermione, dear,” McGonagall went on, “I saw him faced with choices that no person should have to live with - choices that would break normal people. Choices that I couldn’t make once, let alone day after day, part of my routine.

“But Severus - he persevered through it, somehow, and me, I saw him do it. I saw him struggle with the daily effort that he expended just to go on living another day. I prayed to all the gods that he would find a way to stay the course and never break from it. And without a doubt, if I had been him, I would have abandoned hope and drive after years. I was blessed to be a mere supporter in the great drama of this war,” she concluded, “But Severus - he was one of the indispensible players.”

Hermione felt a rush of passion, and realized that she had, in fact, underestimated McGonagall’s desire to do right by Severus.

“I’m sorry I said those things,” Hermione said gratefully. “I didn’t know.”

“Of course you didn’t know, child,” McGonagall said, and extended her hand. Hermione took it, feeling a rise of emotions. “I came to tell you.”

“Why?” Hermione asked. “Why do you want me to know this?”

“Because,” the headmistress said with a sigh, sitting again, “he deserves to have everything we can give him, and more. His mind has long been lost to illness the likes of which neither you nor I can imagine. And I firmly believe that this illness, it is the cost that he had to pay to keep us safe.” McGonagall looked defeated. “I only wish the treatment for this illness wasn’t so… dramatic. He’s had a weight on his shoulders all his life metaphorically, it’s dreadful he has to bear it physically in his middle age as well.”

Hermione felt a pang of concern, and bit her tongue. She didn’t have to ask if McGonagall thought Severus would have, if he could, become the thin and well-exercised man he’d once been. Hermione did wonder if Severus would, in fact, take that choice if it were presented to him.

“So you want me to be with him,” Hermione said, realizing that this wasn’t McGonagall’s way of trying to convince her that Snape was too dangerous or something for a sweet young thing like her. It was a refreshing realization.

“Yes,” McGonagall said sadly. “I think it will be good for him. And good for you, too,” she added sympathetically, “but forgive me if I can’t help but think of what might be best for him right now. He’s been sacrificing himself since before you were born.”

“Fair enough,” Hermione said.

“Moreover,” McGonagall went on, “I came here,” she said, “not to warn you against him, as you seemed to expect when we began this conversation - but to warn you what you're up against. In him, you will see horrors the likes of which you will never see again. He has indeed changed, much more than you can imagine, but also not as much as you think he has. Mostly,” she said, thoughtful, “it’s the circumstances of his world that have changed. And what you see in him is what he could have been, all along.”

She sighed. “Hermione,” she said, very serious, “There’s not many people that I would entrust with the mission of guarding our poor boy’s heart against the horrors of life. But you are, in fact, up to the task, if you are willing to accept it. You have time to back out, now,” she added, “if that’s what you prefer. I won’t pretend that loving Severus will be anything other than difficult. But it seems like you’ve chosen to do it, and I support you in your choice no matter what. I think it’s only fair to warn you that you should make this decision with the prudence and good sense that you’ve heretofore exhibited with aplomb.”

Hermione smiled, the flattery getting to her a little bit, but she felt a little offended that Minerva had thought she needed warning. “I will do that.”

Minerva smiled, a look of confoundment mixed with pleasure on her face. “I’m glad you seem to enjoy each other,” she said, simply. “Before I knew, I thought it would be difficult to convince you to join forces romantically with him, given his physical state. I’m sure if you nudge him, he’ll get himself back in at least some semblance of shape in due time.”

Hermione’s smile was plaster-thin. “I’m sure he would,” she replied.

At least the headmistress was shrewd enough to pick up on the falseness in Hermione’s voice. “Unless, of course, you prefer him this way?”

Hermione coughed. “I think I’d like to get some more grading done before the hour’s out, headmistress, if you don’t mind.”

McGonagall didn’t need more than one hint. “Of course,” she murmured, and she glanced around the room, as if searching for some clue about Hermione’s predilections. She added, reassuringly, “My uncle was a large man also, and his wife always insisted that he was eating them out of house and home - though it was obvious she enjoyed how he cleaned his plate of her cooking. It’s rare north of Edinburgh, but not as rare as it is in the south. The cold weather is the cause, I expect.”

“I’m sure,” Hermione said firmly, not willing to engage in this conversation. “Is that all?”

“Almost,” McGonagall said, standing again, and her bones seemed to creak as she eased her bony frame up. “Albus and I always believed that it was our mission to ensure that Severus found someone to love, after the war was over. My reasons were simply that he’d given up his soul to a fantasy, and that he deserved to experience a real kind of happiness for everything he’s done for us. But Albus’ reasons were more sinister, as usual.” She rolled her eyes. “He believed that Severus, if left unattended, could have become the next great dark wizard.” She shook her head. “So if Albus were here, he’d say that this matter was one of national security. Though you and I know, that’s not true.” Minerva shook her head, every year of her life etched in her face grimly. “Albus broke him too well for him to take that kind of initiative.”

“So lead him, Hermione,” she said, as she went towards the door, “lead him towards happiness. He’s not a leader, he’s a follower, even if he is the noblest of them all. If you tire on the journey ahead of you, you should find a way to replace yourself in his life. But for the moment, while you have the energy, take him and lead him towards something that’s worth having. And let’s pray he never needs to enter battle again.”

“He won’t,” Hermione said kindly, “He’s said over and over again, he’d never do it again.”

Minerva laughed softly, and this laughter was more meaningful than any response she could have said.

And then she was gone, leaving Hermione wallowing in her thoughts.

It occurred to her that she hadn’t heard a response to her patronus yet.

*Shit. I hope he’s all right.*

She prepared another one and sent it, feeling a sense of dread boiling in her stomach.

Chapter Text

Hermione felt the worry knot in her stomach, but at that moment the floo began to glow, and with a rush, she hurried over to the fireplace.

It was hard not to appear crestfallen when Ron's face appeared in the ashes.

"Expecting someone else?" he asked with a bitter laugh.

"Sorry," Hermione said, "Not that I'm happy to see you! But yes. Rather."

"I'll be quick then," Ron said with a cocky grin, but there was an undertone of painful jealousy that assured Hermione that he hadn't been making his therapy appointments lately. "I know you're busyyyyyy."

He dragged out the last word with a mixture of taunting and bitterness.

"No, no rush," Hermione said, taking a deep breath and smiling, trying to focus entirely on her ex-lover's face. "I'm not actually busy right now. How is Rodney?"

"Fine," Ron said, "I mean, I guess. He's busy too."

Hermione picked up immediately on the rash of anger that Ron was hiding. "Come on" she said, "what do you think is really happening here?"

Ron huffed. "I don't think *anything* is *happening,*" he said, clearly frustrated, "but I do find it strange that, all of a sudden, he's got so much to do with practice that we haven't seen each other in almost a week."

"Almost a week?" Hermione asked.

Ron nodded, glum and downtrodden.

"Did anything happen that makes you think..." Hermione tried, but Ron cut her off.

"Well, obviously something *happened,*" Ron said with a sneer. "The question is, *what?*"

Hermione grimaced. "Well," she said simply, "what evidence do you see that indicates that he's... avoiding you, or whatever."

Ron looked like he was on the verge of exploding. "What evidence," he said with a tight laugh, "well he's not coming to see me."

"Have you spoken with him recently?" Hermione asked.

Ron nodded, "Yes, just now. He said he was out grabbing a bite, and he'd be ready to come over later."

"Then what's the problem?" Hermione asked cautiously. "It sounds like you'll be seeing him tonight."

"Yes," Ron said, and his voice began to falter. He took a few deep breaths and closed his eyes. "Yes, I suppose so."

"So what are you worked up about?" Hermione said, finding herself chuckling. "You're being incredibly silly, Ron."

This was not always the correct thing to tell Ron, but when it came to romantic sorts of things, she knew she had enough credibility in his mind to criticize him gently like this.

"I guess so," he responded, and sighed. "I just... I just hate when I feel like he's slipping away, 'Mione." His face was taut and nervous. "I don't want him to leave me because of my family."

"Well," Hermione said with a smile, "I think you'd probably know it if that's what was happening. Don't you think he would talk with you about it? After all, when you started your relationship, I thought he talked up and down about how many times he'd been screwed over in disingenuous relationships where his boyfriends didn't talk to him about problems. And I thought you felt like you guys were both on the same page about that."

"You're right," Ron said, and he looked sufficiently chastened.

"You should talk to him about these feelings," Hermione said, "even if this seems like it's a bit obvious for me to say this."

"Bugger," Ron said, looking quite downcast and grounded again. "You're right. I should have done that right off, shouldn't I have?"

"Yes," Hermione said with a reassuring smile. "But better now than later, I imagine."

"I guess so," Ron said, and took a deep breath. "I'll talk to him when I see him later."

"Right," Hermione said, "You do that. So how are your parents?"

"They're all right," Ron said, sounding nervous again. "I... I told da' I want to talk to him about something, and he's been putting me off. Says he's too worked up about things at the ministry to put some time aside. I told him it's important, and he said he'll let me know when he has a moment. But I don't like waiting." Ron squirmed. "It-"

Ron was interrupted by a knock at the door.

Hermione's heart fluttered from her chest into her face, and it certainly did not go unremarked by Ron.

"You've been waiting for that," Ron said, as Hermione pushed her hair back and pulled at a stray curl. "Well, go on then."

"Don't go," Hermione said, and Ron groaned. She wasn't sure why she said that; ironically, while she was talking to Ron about conveying his feelings to Rodney, she didn't quite feel ready to talk with Severus about what happened. If it was indeed him at the door.

So she got up and went to answer it, her stomach knotting even though she knew, rationally, she had nothing really to worry about.

To her immense relief, Snape was standing at the door, two patronuses at his heel.

"These..." he said softly, and stopped. Then started again. "They found me," he said with a curious smile. "I was coming anyway."

"Good," Hermione said, and put out her hand. "I'm glad."

He took it, a blank expression on his face, but there was a hint of awe in it. "You're wondrous," he said, in a very low whisper, barely audible to her ears, "And I'm sorry I'm such a stubborn old fool."

"Don't worry," Hermione said, "I needed to get my head in line. You haven't done anything wrong, not at all. I should have been more empathetic."

"Then... then we're all right?" he asked in a whisper, and his eyes tracked to the side, noticing Ron Weasley's head in the fire. Since the fire was the only light in the dim room, they were both draped in shadows as they stood at the doorway. He brought his eyes back to focus on hers again quickly, and their gaze was steady.

"Of course," Hermione said with a quiet voice, and clasped his hands warmly. "You're wonderful. And if we're ever *not* all right, it will certainly be far less ambiguous."

Severus processed this. "If you say so," he murmured, and proceeded to grab her with one hand at her waist, making her gasp involuntarily, and he brought her close to him, where he smothered her mouth in a fierce, decadent kiss.

"Erm, 'Mione?" called Ron from the floo. "You all right? Where'd you go?"

"I'm sorry, hon," Hermione called, and then, privately to Severus, she said, "And I'm sorry to you - I'll be done with Ron soon enough."

"When you are," Severus rumbled, not bothering to keep his voice low, "please, come to my chambers." Their eyes locked, and he added, less loudly, "We'll have dinner."

Hermione broke away from him slowly, her hand trailing down his buttons until she got to a nice juicy love-handle, and she squeezed him there. "I'll be there as soon as I finish my grading. I want all of Sunday free."

"Fine," Severus said, and returning the touch, he squeezed both of her arse-cheeks, which made her nearly squeal with desire. "Eight?"

"Eight's fine," Hermione said.

He pulled her close again for a seductive, lingering kiss, and then he patted her rear and added, "Also, I came for my computer."

"Oh," Hermione said with a laugh. "Well, it's there on the table. Help yourself."

"I shall," he said, and he entered the dark room. Hermione went back to the floo.

"Sorry, Ron," she said again, "so your father's avoiding you, and you were about to say something about that."

"Erm," Ron said, clearly holding back a thousand questions, "yeah. Of course mum is bothering me a great deal too, it seems like whatever da' thinks is happening, she didn't get the memo, because she's constantly trying to set me up with girls. I've been telling her... erm..."

Ron ran completely out of bluffing juice as Severus approached Hermione as she sat there on the hearth's carpet, carrying his laptop under his arm, kissed her sweetly on the cheek, and left without a word, his tread remarkably light on the wooden floor; no boards squeaked at all. The door closed audibly behind him, and Hermione blushed red. She'd been *very* effectively marked, even if Ron had missed all the happenings they'd had in the dark entry of the flat.

"What was that?" Ron asked, his face completely aghast. "I mean... 'Mione! I... I..."

Hermione burst out with giddy giggling. "I'm sorry, Ron," she gasped, "your face."

For indeed, his face was comically overcome with bewilderment, his mouth moving in expressive variations of amazement, bewilderment, and horror.

"I... I don't even know, 'Mione," Ron said, and took a deep stabilizing breath. "Have you completely gone bonkers?"

"A bit," Hermione admitted, feeling awash with relief that Severus wasn't ignoring her. "I mean. Not in a bad way, I think."

"Bad?" Ron echoed, and nearly yelled, "Bad? No, 'Mione, I don't think you know what that word means. Bad is falling for a slimy git like Severus Snape. What's happening here is goddamn *awful.* It's *horrific!* What the *hell* kind of potion did he slip you?"

"Why," Hermione asked, perversely enjoying Ron's blockheaded subbornness right now. "Why do you think he's slipping me a potion?"

"Because he's a potions master," declared Ron, "and a slimy git, and HERMIONE I AM LEGITIMATELY CONCERNED THAT YOU HAVE GONE BLIND! At least I could *understand* your attraction before, since he was tall, dark, and in a gothic way sort-of handsome (albeit disgusting), but now? God, 'Mione, this is sick!"

Hermione was well prepared for this kind of backlash from the highly fat-phobic Ron. She also didn't quite know what to do with it. But she was looking forward to being challenged by this particular variety of blockheadedness. "You really don't remember, Ron, those times I tried to put you off dieting after you put on a little holiday pudge?"

"I..." Ron took a deep breath and rolled his eyes. "I remember, of course; we talked it to death. And you said you were fine watching me grow a little tum during the off-season. That's... that's different though. I had no idea it was... like this!" Ron's eyes blazed with realization. "Is that what you would have wanted for *me,* 'Mione? Just to get... so fat and blubbery I can't even fly?"

"For the record, he *can* fly," Hermione said, "and what's more, he's no bigger than some of your Beater teammates. Honestly, you should watch your exaggeration, Ron."

"No exaggeration's needed in this case!" Ron exclaimed, slamming his hand in the ash. "He's no athlete! Do you even *look* at him, 'Mione? He's *enormous!* And no muscle to speak of, he carries at least half his weight in that massive gut! Why, he's nearly as big as *Slughorn!* Would you go out with *Slughorn,* 'Mione?"

She shrugged. "Maybe, if he weren't such an attention-seeking sycophantic arse, and three or four times my age."

"HOW IS THAT ANY DIFFERENT THAN SNAPE?" Ron roared. "Really, 'Mione! I'm genuinely concerned that you have been jinxed or hexed or something."

"Well," Hermione said with a smirk, "Don't be. I'm enjoying my time with Severus, Ron."

"YOU CALL HIM SEVERUS?" shrieked Ron. "I can't believe this, 'Mione! Have you told Harry about this yet?"

Hermione shook her head, feeling a little deflated at the mention of Harry. "No, I haven't spoken with him for months now."

Ron raised his fists in the air. "With my luck, Harry'll just be all affirming, 'Oh, I'm so glad you can make him happy, 'Mione,' you know that's what he'd say."

"I know it," Hermione responded, "So Ron, what would it cost you to be just a little bit more kind to me than Harry would be about this?"

"Kind?" Ron demanded, "I'm being kind! I really am! I'm actually concerned about your bloody welfare is what I'm being kind about!"

"Well," Hermione said, "I know your heart is in the right place, darling, but you see, you just don't get to tell me who is allowed in my life. We've talked about this."

"I know I don't," Ron said, sighing and winding down his anger. "But... but 'Mione, he's fucking *enormous.*"

"I like that," Hermione said with a grin. "More to love."

"Seriously?" Ron demanded with a huff. "Really?"

"You know, Ron," Hermione said, "you've got to accept this eventually."

"Accept it?" Ron replied, "You're telling me that this is just the way it is? That I shouldn't be concerned that you've been drugged?"

"No one's being drugged, Ron," Hermione said, grinning ear to ear. There was something comforting about his outrage, something that felt... hmmm... it felt like he was manufacturing it out of a desire to express affection for her, and care. Maybe it was her imagining things, but she could already feel the wind come out of Ron's sails.

"Well, I know *I'm* not," Ron replied, "Not so sure about you." But he seemed to be settling down into a comfortable grumpiness about the matter already. "Would you *really* have been more into me, 'Mione, if I got as big as he is?"

"Perhaps?" Hermione said with a snicker. "Not that it would have helped us all that much, Ron. I mean, given I'm the wrong gender for you and all."

"Well," Ron said, considering, "It wouldn't be so bad a life, I guess. Just feed me up all day and all night. I'd be content with that. Just getting fatter every day. Sounds nice, actually."

He began to grin, as a fantasy started to emerge in his mind. "My mum would certainly approve, provided it's your cooking that's doing the fattening. Nothing better than for a husband to get fat on his doting wife's affection. She might even forget to ask us about grandbabies, if I look like I'm about to be popping them out any minute."

He paused. "Would you consider it, if I retired from playing? Rodney could be our 'roommate,' and you and I could 'get back together,' and you could fuck Snape on weekends?"

Hermione laughed outright. She was surprised how easily he came around to supporting her. "There, you see?" she exclaimed, "you understand it. You do. So I won't hear another word about it from you, you silly."

"Fine," Ron said, pouting beautifully. "But know, 'Mione, if he so much as breathes on you the wrong way, well, he's a dead man."

Hermione smiled gratefully. This conversation had gone *much* better than she could have ever hoped for. "Thank you, Ron," she said, taking a nice deep breath, "You're wonderful."

"And oh," Ron said, smirking a little bit on his part. "Is *this* why you've been going and pudging up yourself? Does he have a thing for you being 'a little more to love'?"

"A little bit," Hermione said with a small self-conscious smile. "I'm just naturally getting bigger, my life being as sedentary as it is... but he has been helping a bit."

"Cripes," Ron said, shaking his head. "If you aren't as big as he is come Christmas, I'll eat a bludger."

"I don't think it'll be *that* bad, Ron," Hermione said with a laugh, even though her face was getting hot as she thought about it. Could she *really* weigh almost twice her current weight in the next two months? No, she thought to herself, that would be impossible.

But... Severus did have those potions... and they hadn't even tried them all...

Her cunt was definitely tight with desire, and her breathing became more shallow. If she weighed 324 pounds come December 25th... oh hell... oh my...

Ron waved at her, and brought her out of her brief moment of daydreaming. "Earth to 'Mione," he said, using one of her favorite Muggle expressions, "You aren't getting all hot and bothered at the very idea, are you?"

She shook her head no, but her blush said very clearly, *yes.*

"Hell," Ron said, "I didn't mean to give you a new sex fantasy. Dammit." He shook his head. "All right, 'Mione," he said with an eyeroll and a stupefying grin, "I'm going to be seeing Rodney soon. You go run off to his *chambers,* and have yourself some delicious sex, why don't you."

He rang off, and the fire went back to its usual state.

Hermione, for her own part, ran to the bathroom as soon as his face disappeared from the flames, and she decided to cast the weight charm on herself.

But before she did, she thought a few moments about how she might change it.

Her spellwork was beautiful, as it almost always was, and instead of the bone-thin witch staring incredulously at her when she cast it, a delightful and plump Helga-Hufflepuff-type beamed back at her to read her total.

"A hundred and seventy three," proclaimed the charm encouragingly. "Really, Hermione, wonderful job. Last we measured, you were at a hundred and sixty five. That's eight loveable pounds in just nine days. Almost a pound a day! Of course, there's fluctuation to do with water weight and all that, so you have to consider that..."

But Hermione wasn't listening at this point, instead sinking down on the lid of the closed toilet and, as she did so, looking down at her beautiful growing belly. "Today is October 13th. A hundred and fifty one pounds in seventy-three days. That's over two pounds a day. Can I *really* put on that much so quickly?"

"It's possible, dearie," said the witch with a smile. "But only if you eat practically nonstop, and every single day, you must eat just a little bit more than you can comfortably fit in your belly. You'll need to push yourself." The charm gave Hermione a look that was practically wicked. "But, I think with the help you'll get from your boyfriend, you won't have much trouble." The witch paused. "That's what you young folks are calling each other these days, right? Boyfriend and girlfriend?"

"That's right," Hermione said with a grin. "Oh god." She stood up, feeling wet and weak in the knees. "Thanks, Cozy."

"No problem at all, sweetheart," the witch said with good humor, "Now go back to that nice plump hunk of a man and get yourself fueled up. You've got a long way to go in very little time!"

............
Hi folks! I love love love love love love love when you review, especially when you tell me what you like about each chapter. It really helps to keep me going! The denouement of this story *is* in sight, I think, though honestly I could probably write this story forever. (I won't, I don't think, but hey, it would be awesome to get this to a million words!!! That would take forever but it would be awesome!)

There's a lot of updates today because I had a lot of free time and have been inzpired. But here's a quick survey - would you prefer that I post one chapter reliably a week, or just post chapters as soon as I write them? I struggle with posting regularly because I have poor impulse control but with social impetus I'd be able to do it better. So would it dramatically increase your experience as a reader to see updates regularly on, for example, Sunday evenings (EST)? Or should I continue to post as I complete things?

Chapter Text

hgss 30

She headed to Severus’ rooms, and he looked truly lonesome. He was in the bedroom, sitting against the headboard, curled up in the cutest way with a mug of tea at hand, glasses perched on his high nose, and his computer on a side-table that extended its arm over the bed. It was heartbreaking the way he perked up when she came in, even though his momentary joy was covered up as fog began to fill his eyes. His gaze went back to the computer screen, looking chastened.

“Hey,” she murmured, shyly, and he nodded, not looking at her. She felt concern constrict her throat; there was something weary in his expression, even though he seemed like he was trying to be warm.

She gently propped herself up on the edge of her bed with her elbows and surveyed him. “Why do *you* look guilty?” she asked, feeling the words come out a little more forcefully than she intended. “I’m the one who was wrong, wasn’t I?”

“I suppose,” Severus said, but he clearly was not convinced.

“Well,” Hermione said, “how about we talk about about your control complex? Not everything that causes you pain is your fault.”

“No,” he conceded, bitterly, and she sensed that she was on progressively thin ice. “but that’s what I’ve been trained to believe, nonetheless.”

“You must know it’s rubbish,” she responded affirmatively. “You’re no more at fault for other people than other people are at fault for you.”

He seemed to take heed of her words, but after a brief moment of contemplating this reality, he seemed to find it too much of an effort to think about, and he pulled the comforter up over him tighter. His big tummy created a comfortable-looking hill under the duvet.

“No,” he acknowledged. He sounded like he wanted to believe in the words she said, but knew it was far outside the realm of possibilities he could reach. It was like seeing someone trapped in a glass bottle, being told for the hundredth time that life outside of the glass bottle was just peachy, and if only he could get out of the bottle, he would be happy.

“I apologize,” he added, not looking away from his computer, “for not responding to your patroni in kind.”

“It’s all right,” Hermione said. “Is there a particular reason you didn’t?”

He stared vacantly across the room towards the door, absorbed in his own painful thoughts, self-loathing etched in his face. The fingers of his right hand wormed their way under the blanket and seemed to rub at his love-handle. The comforter fell a little bit, revealing where his shirt had accidentally folded over itself as he sat in bed. It peeled back over his skin, revealing a comfortable-looking bulge of porcelain skin, which he grabbed and pinched between vicious fingers.

Out of concern, Hermione’s own fingers inserted themselves between his, preventing him from pinching himself, and he looked at her with a startled flash of alarm.

He took a deep breath and, thusly preparing himself, saved his screen and shut the computer with a snap.

“So, I have a request,” he said, “and please know that this is not as highly significant as it might sound, but is, in fact, just a request. We don’t need to talk about it.”

Hermione nodded. “Let’s have it,” she responded, trying to appear as affirming and responsive as she could be.

He sighed and leaned back on the headboard, staring at the ceiling. “I… would like if, barring major emergencies, you would… find an alternative to sending me patroni… I don’t want to explain.”

She, of course, could intuit there was something happening here, and it took her a full minute of thinking to get an idea of what it might be.

“Is it… because your patronus reminds me of *her*?” she asked softly, “I mean… at worst, it’s inconvenient, but of course if it hurts you because of the association, I understand.”

“It’s not *just,* that,” Snape said, a growl rising in his voice. Hermione put a hand on his tense shoulder and rubbed it. He added, teeth gritted, still staring straight up, “It’s much *worse.*”

Hermione, for her part, began to notice the smell of burning, and she looked up - the spot on the ceiling where Snape was staring was starting to fizz with red sparks, like ants dancing on a smooth white desert plain.

“Hey,” she whispered, trying to be comforting, “hey.”

Her touch and warmth seemed to have no impact on his pain, but he at least seemed to tolerate her touching him. “I can’t even say it,” he spat, his face fierce. Then, he summoned self-control with a deep exhale, and he closed his eyes.

Then he opened them again, and he let out a painful laugh that was clearly forced.

“Hah. All right. Forgive my moment of weakness.”

He unpeeled himself from her, landing a kiss on the surprised woman’s face, and he got up with practically a bounce, brushing down the corner of his shirt that had ridden up. “Have you had dinner?” he asked, and Hermione shook her head. “Good,” he said, “Let’s do that.”

Hermione followed him to the table, somewhat bewildered at the sudden change in mood.

“Erm,” she said, as he clapped for a house-elf, “Severus? Are you all right?”

“Certainly,” he said, sounding almost chipper. “Are you?”

Hermione squinted at him, suspicious, but sat down with him at the table. As he took off his glasses and laid them on the table, she was so confused that she didn’t even pay attention to what Severus ordered for himself. It seemed like he barely said anything to Minty, the elf that had quietly replaced Lowly as their regular servant. But no matter. Hermione ordered herself some decadent dishes, not feeling quite peckish herself, but knowing that once she started eating she’d get hungrier. Then she settled back in her chair for the moment, surveying her lover with worried eyes.

He seemed to be doing everything but making eye contact with her. Soon, the elf was gone, Severus began talking blithely about the invitations to the conference, and got out his computer again in order to recite, in alphabetical order, the individuals who they were inviting as guest speakers, the periodicals in which they’d advertised the conference, and the names of those who had registered.

“We have confirmed Ronan Gros for a presentation about dill’s anti-prophegenic properties,” Severus said, casting glances at her as he went, but never quite meeting her eyes. “And for the requisite presentation on the Ned’s Welt flower, the Norwegian who’s been publishing papers on it for seventeen years at this point, Mia Sorenssen. That covers all of the herbal essences, presuming all of them accept the invitation. Overall, I think we have a decent balance of genders presenting, despite everything.” He clicked from screen to screen with the ease of a graceful swimmer, never stopping for a beat.

Hermione felt herself relaxing into his banter, despite her worry. “What about people of color?”

He paused. “Let’s see,” he said, scratching on a piece of paper. There was an energy in him that she hadn’t seen before in their relationship; even in his very penstrokes, he seemed to be hustling with a sense of urgency.

“Not well balanced at all,” he admitted after a few moments of silence. “I suppose we could reach out to more of the Americans on the list.”

She nodded, and watched as he did some careful copy-pasting into emails. He glanced back at her between his rapid keystrokes, reflecting an intense intimacy, and she smiled feebly in response. This seemed to be enough.

He was garrulous and effortless, and appeared like he was entirely in control of himself and the situation around him. It was pleasurable in some ways to see him like this, because it reminded her a lot of how he presented in class - but instead where his laser focus had once been on preventing cauldrons from blowing up, he was intent on completing this task ahead of him.

If this change of mood hadn’t been so sudden, and so out of character with his mood recently, Hermione would have enjoyed seeing him a little less depressed. As it was, however, it made Hermione feel chills down her spine.

He’d sent ten emails by the time their dinner arrived, and he showed no signs of stopping.

“You’ve done a lot,” Hermione cajoled him as she looked at what was on the table. There didn’t seem to be nearly enough. All the elf had left at Severus’ plate was an anemic bowl of lettuce with vinegar as the only dressing, desperately trying to reassure the lonesome pork chop next to it. “Come, let’s pause for a while.”

“No, no, I’m fine,” he said, a bite in his voice. “Let me finish this.”

Hermione felt like her fork was heavy - too much so to eat anything. Severus, as it happened, wasn’t eating anything either.

Finally, after trying and failing to eat for several minutes, and watching Severus click and type with such hurry, she pushed his plate towards him. “Come,” she murmured, “let’s not get carried away.”

“I’m not,” he said, and his eyes shot a glare at her before going back to what they were doing.

“It’s not that important,” she said, feeling an intense anxiety mount in her body. But she swallowed it, and tried to keep it out of her voice. “It’s really not.”

He proceeded to actively ignore her, which made Hermione unsure of what to do. Out of a desire to get his attention, her hand moved towards his plate, hesitated, then grasped the pork chop by the bone.

Then she picked it up and put it to her lips, experimentally, watching Severus the whole time.

He didn’t look at her, but as she hesitated, he said with a shrug, “Go ahead and have it, if you want.”

She gently put the meat down on the plate again. This was not good.

“Hey,” she said, taking a deep breath, “when you get done, let’s talk a bit about what’s happening right now, okay?”

He shrugged. “Nothing’s happening. Just let me finish.”

So they sat there for almost twenty minutes, Hermione half-heartedly eating her own food, watching Severus’ efforts with bated breath.

The room was silent other than the sound of his fingers on the keyboard, until the sound of Severus’ phone rang. Both Severus and Hermione them visibly jumped in their own skins.

“A moment,” he said, standing up to answer his phone, heaving his body out of the chair and rising to pace the living room rug. He flung it open with a practiced air. “Hello?”

His body visibly tensed, as he crossed his free arm over his chest, his posture shrinking into a slump. “Yes, yes, yes. Completely better, yes. Yes. No trouble. I… thank you, my dear. All right. As I said before, those dates do work. Text me details as you have them. I love you, too.”

His vigorous new energy seemed to deflate even more as he flipped his phone shut, and Hermione could see that he felt self-conscious about having this conversation in front of her. Embarrassed, even.

“I may as well tell you,” he said, approaching the table again and putting a hand on top of his chair, “that Erika and Jean-Raoul are coming to visit in a few weeks.”

Hermione felt an immense rush of relief. At least here was a potential reason for his erratic behavior.

She waited for him to say something, but he looked at her expectantly. His stomach chose that moment to announce itself, and, mortified, he drew his robes more tightly around him, doing a decent job of disguising his tummy bulge.

“All right,” she said at last, resting her hands in her lap, “how do you feel about that?”

He glanced away from her, then met her eyes, and for the first time since she’d come in she felt like she recognized him.

“Suboptimal.”

And then all at once, he seemed to revert back five years, a haunted look entering his face.

She couldn’t help but be startled, since, in his pain and vulnerability, she was reminded of the look on his face that he’d had when he was in the Shrieking Shack, dying on the floor.

“You’re not excited about seeing her again,” Hermione said, her voice soft. They were making progress, even if she had to be intensely careful how she stepped. He wasn’t pretending away his panic anymore, and it had given way to despair.

“What do *you* bloody think?” he snarled, and, as though immediately regretting it, he leaned against the back of the chair and hid his face in his hand. “I’m sorry,” he murmured after becoming more composed. “I… I can’t let myself be a miserable git to you.”

“No,” Hermione said, “but don’t let that make you feel worse, this particular moment.”

She patted the seat of his chair. “Come here. Really.”

Shaken, he did obey her, and he practically curled into his chair. Awkwardly, of course, given his size. He tried to tuck his legs beneath him, though had a lack of success in this because of the thickness of his thighs. “I’m not… I’m…” he tried to say, and she offered him her hand. He took it, his eyes bright with self-hating tears, but he wasn’t crying.

“So,” Hermione said, as he faltered again. “First, you’re going to eat something. McGonagall could practically hear your stomach from her chambers, the rate you’re going.”

He appeared grim, but said nothing, and made no objection as she stroked his hair. It was a painful thing to watch, the way he almost winced under her fingers. She could tell he wasn't as comfortable as she wished he could be.

She then guided the fork into his hand, squeezing his soft palm in a comforting way, and he began to thrust it at the salad haphazardly.

“Come on,” she murmured, “ten mouthfuls.”

It took an age for him to do the first one. Hermione just patiently waited until he had successfully stabbed a quantity of lettuce and put it in his mouth. He barely chewed, and swallowed almost immediately.

“Good,” she murmured comfortingly, “that’s the way.”

The rest were no less painful to watch, as he seemed to engage in an internal tug of war every time.

Finally, he’d gotten through the required number, and he even picked up the porkchop, though he looked defeated as he ate it, as if he begrudged every morsel.

But at least this satisfied Hermione. “When you’re ready,” she said, “I’d love to know what you’re thinking. For what it’s worth, I'm looking forward to meeting Erika," she said hopefully.

"I am too," Severus said, not noticing the grammatical inconsistency. Instead, there was something else in his voice.

Hermione just waited. Severus glanced at her, and she nodded at him, encouraging him to speak further. He swallowed. "I... I am different with her than I've been with any other person ever in the world," he said softly. "I think you could tell."

Hermione nodded, listening, though she could not confirm anything other than that his physical depression was exacerbated by the call. "Different in what ways?" she asked, permissively.

Snape looked miserable. "I... I'm not sure exactly. It's not like I make jokes or such around her... But I'm lighter when I speak with her. I speak with her in a way I dare not at Hogwarts. There is a lack of… cultural history, I suppose… between us. I... She makes me forget," he said, stumblingly. "I don't have to put on an impenetrable facade. I don't have years of reputation as a slimy git working against my favor with her. And..."

He seemed to realize something, and had to fight it from stopping midway out of his mouth. Hermione tilted her head sweetly, trying to solicit his thoughts, feeling a curious type of intimacy.

How strange it was to speak with her man about how he felt about another woman. It filled her with a mix of emotions she didn't easily understand.

It was similar to how she'd felt when Ron had gushed about the way a teammate's arse looked on a broomstick, and that conversation had ended with tears. His, mostly, but as Hermione remembered the echoes of that ominous conversation years ago, she remembered she had cried, too.

-(It's not as though I'm into blokes or anything, but I just want to grab that thing and shove myself into it, you know?

-Erm, darling, that's exactly what being into blokes sounds like.

-No it isn't, it's just... Friendly roughhousing.

-Tell that to the men at the kink bar up the street.)

Presently, Snape managed to find his words. He looked reluctant, but strangely brave.

"I think she would be... ashamed... if she knew what people think of me here."

Hermione's heart melted, and she began to feel her eyes get wet.

He did love Erika, even if he did love Hermione too. But Hermione did fear that Snape's love of Erika might be a completely different kind of love in Snape's heart, and that Erika filled a hole formed in the image of Lily.

Whereas his love of Hermione was nowhere near the kind of love Hermione and he shared. Hermione realized that while she knew that he loved her, and she loved him, she didn't feel like she was in some kind of romance novel. There wasn't that deep and intense passion driving their relationship that she saw . Part of this, she realized, was because his love of her was requited. If it wasn't, chances are his way of relating to her would be completely different.

"I understand," she said, and even though they both knew she didn't, not one whit. But he didn't argue.

Instead, he sighed, seeming bewildered and slightly defeated. "I suppose I'm not thrilled about her coming *now*, at any rate."

"That's understandable," Hermione said, convincing herself that tears were exactly the opposite of what was a good idea right that moment. For some reason the voice of McGonagall coming back to her mind.

"He was left out in the rain sometimes... He would never be invited to their weddings in peacetime..."

She felt a shiver of sadness.

Severus seemed to be feeling the same, marinating in his own sadness, but it didn’t seem to be sad enough for him. “Understandable, yes. That’s an understatement,” he said, and he scooped up his hanging belly into his arm and cradled it. “I’ve become monstrous.”

He proceeded to let go of his excess flesh, and he toppled over slightly, and placed his head on her shoulder. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight. "Are you okay?" She asked, desperately hoping he could reassure her.

"No," he said, after several long moments. His voice was tight, and Hermione rubbed the back of his shoulders.

"That's all right," she said, feeling weirdly confident. "It's all fine."

He proceeded to weep silently. It was the eeriest thing, Hermione realized, to see such a strong fortress of a man keeled over, seeking comfort in her arms. He was clearly in a lot of pain, and she didn't know how to respond to it other than to try and comfort him. She felt both confident and helpless, her breaths even and slow to try and balance his own jagged inhalations, but also knowing that this was really the limit of what she could do.

"Forgive me," he murmured after some silent moments, "I am such an old fool."

"That's not true," Hermione said warmly, her Gryffindor spirit rising in her heart. "You aren't old, and you aren't a fool. You've... You've been broken, intentionally, is what's happened." She thought back to McGonagall's words, "Albus would say this was a matter of national security..."

Severus seemed to grow very small in her arms, his body withdrawing into itself. "That's not true," he nearly whimpered. "I've always been broken."

Hermione knew better than to press this point. She sadly stroked Severus' hair and held him just a little bit tighter.

Finally, Severus managed to reallocate his emotional resources, and he sat up, banishing his tears almost unnaturally. "I don't want to look this way for Erika," he said firmly. "She hasn't seen me in a long while, and I've gained nearly four stone since I last saw her in person."

"I see," Hermione said with a sigh of relief. “So that’s why you’ve been… not all right this evening.”

“That,” he said, with a murmur, “and the other thing. With the patroni.”

“Do you want to tell me about it?” Hermione asked, her hand wrapping around his.

He grimaced. “Would it be completely crushing if I didn’t want to talk about it?”

Hermione paused and thought very hard. “Two things,” she said. “First, it seems to continue to be hurting you. Second, this is the second time you’ve brought it up. I’m wondering if you’re hoping I will press you into telling me, because you feel embarrassed but you actually want to tell me. The other option, of course, is that you’re genuinely in pain and feel that it’s going to make your pain worse to tell me. If you are in pain, and you think you will feel better for telling me, then by all means, let’s have out with it then.”

Severus laughed darkly. “Hermione, the world would have been in the worst trouble had you been the Dark Lord.”

Hermione took this as a compliment, though an odd one. “Well, fortunately, you’re not servant to a dark lord anymore,” she said with as much pleasantness as she could muster, “and fortunately, I’m not and have never been a dark lord, and even more fortunately, I am really concerned about your well-being, and I don’t have time for Slytherin mindgames, thanks very much. So which is it - do you need to talk about it, but are reluctant to, or do you genuinely need to sort it out on your own?”

He seemed uncommonly pleased by this response. “I see that, in fact, you are pressuring me. In a very Slytherin way, as it happens. But no matter, you’re close to the truth when you ask me if I *need* to talk about it. Though *wanting* to talk about it is out of the question.”

Severus then took a deep breath. “I can’t,” he breathed out, “I can’t cast one anymore.”

Hermione’s brain buzzed, but she kept quiet for a moment. “Why not, do you think?” she asked, as she realized he was waiting for her.

“I don’t quite know,” he said, “I expect it has something to do with the neurotransmitters. I didn’t even notice for a long time after I started medications. I’ve talked about it extensively with Erika, who has taken quite an interest in the problem, but suffice it to say, I cannot cast a patronus of any kind.”

“I’m so sorry,” she replied, feeling the intensity of his sadness resonate through her. “That’s terrible.”

He didn’t respond, and looked away instead.

“I… I hope you don’t think that you’re a bad person, or like there’s no hope for you to be happy, or something because of this,” Hermione went on, “I certainly don’t think so.”

“All right,” said Severus, shaking his head, “let’s talk about something else.”

“I hear you,” Hermione responded. “But please know that I don’t think less of you for it. There must be hundreds of people in history who couldn’t cast a patronus. It’s just one spell.”

He cast her a baleful look that implied, *shut up, shut up, shut up!* so she did so, with great restraint.

She obeyed, for once, and they sat there in silence until Severus took a deep breath and gestured to Hermione.

“I was being ridiculous,” he said, brushing his hands over his face. “And being hungry doesn’t help anything. Can I have some of your pudding?”

“Please,” Hermione said with a bright smile.

As he served himself from the tin in front of her, she hoped that he wouldn’t notice her hands shaking with the final release of the tension that had been in the room.

Chapter Text

Despite her efforts to hide them, she wished he would notice her shaking hands. She wanted to be comforted, but was far too embarrassed to ask.

He didn't notice at all, actually, and it stung, particularly coming on the heels of her thoughts regarding how he seemed to feel about Erika. Hermione was certain he would notice *her* hands shaking at the dinner table, even if she tried to hide them.

But given her pragmatic attitude, she tried to feel all right.

She was cheered by the fact that Severus seemed to have abandoned all his former hesitancy, and had taken the pudding tin into his hands and was directly eating out of it. He was focused on this, and it was adorable, and she tried to forget everything else. His cheeks were chubby, his belly was filling out nicely as he ate bite after bite, four servings of pudding already disappeared inside him without pause, supplemented by copious glasses of milk.

"Are you going to finish that?" Hermione asked, taking a deep stabilizing breath. She definitely was enjoying the view, and her own pain was easing as she watched him eat.

"It's practically gone as it is," he confirmed, scraping out the remaining treacle crumbs.

"And I thought you were trying to be moderate," Hermione teased gently.

He looked at her with a cool, dispassionate glare, which wasn't really all that harsh.

"A fool's errand," he responded, "particularly given recent evidence that demonstrates my mood's stability depends on my intake being unrestricted."

"A quick turnaround," Hermione said, "but no matter. The main thing is, you're feeling better?"

He put the empty tin on the table and passed a tongue over his lips thoughtfully.

"...no," he answered, after significant deliberation. "I am better able to cope with my discomfort, now, but no, I do not actually feel better."

Hermione moved her chair closer to his, and laid a hand on his own. She wasn't shaking any more, and she felt more in control of herself.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I wish you did feel better."

He looked at her with a kind of sadly amused appreciation, charmed by her efforts to make him feel better despite their futility.

"Myself as well," he murmured.

Hermione's hand gripped him a little harder, and inched its way up his arm, where she grasped him tighter at the base of his fleshy upper arm, the one closest to her. He responded by putting his other hand in her lap, where his thumb slowly traced the outline of her navel through her clothes, gently caressing the rim of her blossoming belly. It was an electric sort of feeling, and she could feel his energy changing as they touched each other.

But they did not move for many minutes, instead feeling each other physically. Hermione, for her own part, was feeling herself emotionally.

She'd been scared for a good part of the earlier evening. Scared of what, she wasn't entirely sure she could name, but Severus had behaved strangely, and she had been terrified of this being a new normal. She had already struggled to adapt to his depression, and she wasn't sure if she could adjust to... Whatever it was that had been. She'd actually forgotten that he could be so irritable, so uncaring. And the only reason that he'd been able to snap out of it was because Erika called him.

But, she reasoned, wasn't Erika the reason he started acting that way in the first place?

She was interrupted from thinking more about this by Severus' saying, "I apologize for earlier. Sometimes my own behavior gets the best of me."

She cast a look at him that was partly kind, mostly serious.

"You've never been like that before," she said. "Is this part of your...bipolar?"

"Perhaps?" He responded, and touched her shoulder, his long but pudgy fingers massaging it. She loved the feel of how he touched her. "You might be right. I can't always tell when mania sets in, while depression hits me like a bludger."

"is that what mania looks like?" she asked, perplexed.

"I don't know," he answered, though his voice was getting stony-edged again. "It's easier for me to remember what it looked like at its worst than to remember anything else about it. It's likely, come to think of it. But medication helps it from taking root in me for days, the way it used to. Let's move on, shall we?"

"No," said Hermione, and she started to feel herself shaking again. "No, we've got to talk about this. We can't just pretend it away."

"It's not pretending," Severus said, and there was that same unkind fierce defensiveness in his voice, and Hermione felt herself slip momentarily into the eyes of an eleven year old girl with painfully long teeth, and the pain and despair began to set in.

Her face paled as his eyes bore into hers, penetrating and scornful....then suddenly he back-tracked, and she felt herself return to her present with only an echo of the feelings to remind her of what had happened. It always hit her hard when she remembered they’d once had a student-teacher relationship, and the smallest things could make memories come back to her in a wave of nauseating emotions. Especially of that incident with the teeth.

"No," he revised, more quietly. "I must check myself. This is me trying to hold myself together, and regretfully failing."

He stood up with a wince, then, upon thinking again, sat down once more.

"Mania," he said, biting his tongue for a moment as he grouped his thoughts, "for me, was never really euphoria. They say that's atypical. I don't give a shit about what is or isn't, you understand, but it bears noting. When I was in a manic state, I could go days without sleep and not feel a thing. They say that's very typical."

He grimaced. "Dumbledore liked these periods for that reason alone. I had a great deal of energy, though I was always very argumentative with him during these times. I think he enjoyed it, kept him on his toes. And when I lost my temper with him, he thought it meant I was able to keep it better leashed with the dark lord."

A bitter smile. "He was right about that, but not for the reasons he thought."

He gazed into the distance for a moment, reflective. Hermione thought about Snape the insomniac, raging around the castle for hours and never sleeping. It occurred to her that she'd never thought about why running into Snape in the late night was a likelihood, and not just a possibility. It put quite a different tone on the exploits she had shared with Harry over the years.

As if reading her mind, Severus added, "Come to think of it, many of our arguments - between myself and Dumbledore - were about Potter."

Hermione felt her heart twinge with pain at not having talked to Harry in so long. She should floo him, maybe this week.

"Sounds really distressing," she said, and he nodded.

His face was drawn as he further reminisced, "The mania usually ended in terror - usually I believed that I had been found out. I would hear phantom voices telling me to kill myself."

Hermione felt strangely unfazed by this. While she never would have guessed off hand that he had suffered hallucinations, it was not surprising to her.

"You couldn't block them out by occulmency?" She asked gently.

"Only for a little while," he responded, his hand clasping hers more tightly. "It was different than having someone in your mind - it seemed to be from outside, and thereby was more real and unpredictable."

He looked seriously at her. "I think that's what scared me the most. I would have to go to Madam Pomfrey a complete mess, and she would knock me out with some home brew of hers for twelve hours or something ridiculous, and then I'd wake up again, and recoup most of the hours with a time turner, and for the most part that was the end of that."

"I'm sorry," Hermione said. She felt these were paltry words, ineffective and a poor response. But he didn't seem to think so, as he drew himself closer to her.

"I only really feel like I can cope with all of it when doing one of two things," he said slowly, "and I suppose you don't need me to tell you what those are."

Hermione didn't need to be told - she passed him platter of linguine that had sat in front of her their entire conversation. It was cold, and he didn't seem to be appetized by it, and indeed after a moment he clapped his hands and summoned their elf again.

"I know I abase the practice,” he said, after calling for what seemed enough to feed a small army, "but there’s something about Muggle packaging on foods. It’s mostly abhorrent to me, but I do miss the sensation of knowing exactly how much damage one is about to do before one has done it. It's hard to replicate without losing a great deal of its aesthetic - casting a calorie interpretation charm just doesn’t have the same feel as eating an entire package of cakes and looking at the calories on the back, and realizing one has eaten enough to fuel a family of four in one meal.” He settled back, one warm hand on his tummy.

“They have these ‘family-size’ frozen dinners. I found it amusing, buying these to feed my family of one.” His smile was blackly humorless. “There’s such a sensational misery of knowing you’ve eaten, in one sitting, more than three times what you’re supposed to in a day. The thrill of disbelief, the summoning of courage against the compulsion. The ability to quantify the pain and review the course of the struggle with utter precision."

He sighed. "I did not realize I would miss that."

Hermione felt her throat stick, as though she had tried to swallow a pill without water.

"You really are doing this to hurt yourself, aren't you?" she murmured, and she was terrified of his response.

She felt herself wilt under his gaze, her heart racing as his serious eyes mournfully implored her to pay attention. "I was talking like that," he murmured, "last week. But I've been giving it some thought, and I don't think I want to die quite yet."

She could have been struck by a thunderbolt, she was so startled. "Well, that's a relief," she said, trying to get her bearings back, but as it happened, she lost them completely, and ended up sobbing for no particularly rational reason.

He scooped her up and held her as she cried, and kissed her tenderly and stroked her hair. She tried a few times to get a grip on herself again, but three times lost it immediately. It was no use.

Finally she managed to cry herself out. Sometime during this period, Snape's food arrived, but he let it sit. It was only when she had gasped the last tears out that he asked, "What was all that?"

"Severus," she moaned, "you're important to me. You don't think I'm going to be glad when you tell me you've got the will to live?"

"I *dont* think I said that," said Severus gruffly, but there was a tender thoughtfulness underneath it.

"Well, a desire to not be dead is a step in the right direction," she responded with a pained laugh.

"How could I want to be dead," he murmured. "I've never *wanted* it. I've been ambivalent, yes. Because being dead has merely seemed better than the alternative sometimes, that is all."

The corner of his mouth formed a recalcitrant smile. "For the moment, though, I'm very satisfied with what I've got." He kissed her on the top of her head. "I suppose I simply struggle in terms of the mechanics of *how* to live effectively. At least," he added darkly, “that’s how I feel right now.”

"After so many years of panic and fight or flight, settling down is hard," she affirmed. "Even I have had trouble with that."

"Unfortunately,” Severus said, and began to reach for the chips that sat in front of him.

As he ate, Hermione nestled herself deeper in his arm, face first. His deodorant or what-have-you smelled deliciously masculine, and breathing in the scent, laced with sweaty pheromones, made Hermione's mood improve a bit as well. The feeling of his flesh reverberating as he chewed was incredibly satisfying, and she thought blissfully about the calories he was consuming, adding on top of those he'd already eaten in the treacle tart.

They remained quiet until he had finished his fish and chips. This took a rather long time, because he'd ordered a platter sized to feed a cadre of students.

He couldn't finish it all, even with Hermione's help (her hand snuck out to steal a great many.) but eventually it became clear that he was comfortably full, and Hermione massaged his well-plumped tummy with great admiration. He had put away a great many chips indeed, and several battered fish besides, and his stomach seemed to radiate warmth as her hand massaged it.

Then, with salty breath, Severus began kissing her again, on the top of the head, then slipping down to nibble provocatively at her ear, and she felt herself warm up to the idea of making out. She felt his hand brush away the fierce strands of hair that hid the back of her neck, and his fingers wormed their way up to gently touch the nape of her neck, along the hairline, where its velvet softness yearned to be touched. His lips proceeded to wend their way up the same path, beginning near the base of her spine with slow, perfectly-tempered kisses that made their way up her neck, warming her and leaving her skin tingling and warm.

There was the hint of teeth once every few kisses, just the right amount, reassuring Hermione of his animal possessiveness and attraction to her. She murmured and sighed as she felt him nip her just a bit, and arched her neck. he responded to this by experimentally taking the lump of fat at her chin into his teeth and pressing down a little harder.

She outright moaned. "God," she whimpered, "yes."

He was immediately intrigued, and with a fierce motion, he ripped her front buttons open to reveal her growing, swelling breasts. Scooping one of them into his hand and kneading it - what a nice feeling, she thought as she looked at it, her breast was so big it spilled out of his hand, unable to be contained, a big ball of fatty molten tissue, like jiggly bread dough - he then pressed his lips against the side of it, at the place the breast joined her chest, where the fat was thickest, and he clasped it in his teeth gingerly.

"Yes," she murmured, relishing the feeling of teeth and hot tongue together. He was biting and licking at the same time, and with a few careful waves of his hand, Hermione felt a similar sensation on her other breast as well, symmetrically. Snape had used what Hermione privately called a cloning charm, which replicated his efforts on her other side.

She felt herself opening up like a flower on time-lapse video, her entire body awakening to the sensations and longing to be penetrated. She slipped out of his arms onto the floor and lay there. The rug was old and not particularly comfortable, but she grabbed her wand and waved it, and suddenly the rug was fresh and plush, the kind of rug that was a pleasure to sink one’s feet into. She relaxed into it and undid the rest of her bodice.

He seemed happy to oblige her needs, and he leaned practically into her armpit and kissed her down her sides, licking and sucking at the rolls of chub she had grown. His cloning spell meant that she felt the same thing up and down the other side of his body. She felt the waves of euphoria exude from her, and she had to wave at him to cancel the spell.

"Too much, too quick," she murmured. "Come on."

She wiggled her butt out of the rest of her dress, balled it up, and tossed it carelessly out of their way. Severus undid his shirt, but that's as far as he got. She was met by the sight of his big pudgy tum, restrained by an improperly sized belt (in other words: it was too small) and tucked into the binding spells that kept his trousers from falling to pieces as they struggled around the circumference of his so-wide gut. As his hands moved towards his belt, she shook her head and grabbed at his chub.

Oh, it bulged so deliciously, stuffed so completely, as into sausage casing. It threatened to burst as he moved, and she nearly screamed in delight to see the way his tum sloshed and moved under the too-right fabric, daring it to try and hold on much longer. There was evidence of a second belly roll forming there on top, depending on the angle at which he was positioned. As he sank to sit on the rug with a satisfying, fleshy thump, she saw it poking above the other one like the sun peeking over a hill.

"You are gorgeous," she murmured, a hand pressing against the delicious rise of flesh. "What if I told you I wanted to be as fat as you are by Christmas?"

His eyes widened in horror.

"That would... be quite a lot of weight," he said, dangerously close to stammering. "Why set a goal like that for yourself? Didn't we just have a conversation about... living, and its relative merits?"

Hermione sighed, and sat up. She had been hoping this was an avenue to pillow talk, not a distraction. Alas.

"I mean," she said, with a frown, "it's different. It really is. I'm not suicidal, darling - I just want to be fat."

"How are those not the same thing?" He demanded, and, as if he were becoming self conscious, he held his shirt against himself, cradling it.

"They aren't the same," Hermione said.

"How?" He demanded again. "Fat is an objective risk factor for poor heAlth on every major metric. Hermione, I appreciate body positive attitudes, I appreciate the erotic components of feeding and stuffing. But you have got to get it through your mind that no one who is healthy wants to be fat. That is the bound between reality and fantasy that I'm not willing to cross if I'm trying to be healthy. Wasn't it you who was arguing the exact opposite of this with me a month* ago?"

"Yes," Hermione said, "but that was because you were blatantly in disregard of your health. You were a hedonist kamikaze, not simply a hedonist. Just because you've changed your mind on one part of it doesn't mean the rest of it is non-negotiably bad."

He seemed to consider this, and then shook his head. "I can't accept this, Hermione."

"Well," Hermione responded, "how do you think I felt when you said you don't care if you get so fat you become mortally sick?"

He looked down his nose at her, but said nothing else.

"I accepted that," she said, "even though the implication was that I might lose you, and that you were all right with that eventuality. I made an effort to not take it personally. I demand the same from you. You don't have to feel good about it, but accept it you must."

He rolled his eyes. "Either you, my dear, have outwitted me, or whatever spell or potion you've used on me is making me think so. I don't have a response that isn't an emotional argument."

She breathed a heavy sigh of relief. "Now of course," she said, "in my case, if any health indicators are alarming, I would stop, Severus. I'm not about to sacrifice my long term happiness for short term happiness. But I do want to do this, for whatever reason, and I would like for this to be a delightful, erotic, and pleasurable experience for both of us, if you choose to participate. Either way," she said, "my mind is made up, and I will try and do this."

"But why," he murmured, looking down at his own body. He seemed to be asking beyond the reasons he cited.

"Because," Hermione said, gently touching his bare shoulder. "I'm immensely curious about what it will be like, and I want to experiment with my own body, and find a weight that both meets what image I have for myself and is optimal in terms of health. I already know I like being bigger, and I want to see what it is like to be significantly bigger. Beyond what most people would imagine desireable."

She felt herself add, despite herself, "in some ways, I also want to be of comparable size to you. Partly to show you that, indeed, you are beautiful. And partly because I know your interests, and I think you would enjoy more of me, as much or even more than I will."

She smirked. "I must say, though, that the main reason is me. I want to. And my not-too-serious goal is to be as big as you are by Christmas."

He let his shirt drop into his lap, and he leaned towards her. Rolling his shoulders back, he let his body assume a more confident posture. Hermione had long known this attitude was an affectation, but even as he sat there, training his eyes on her, the raw power contained in his gaze and body was formidable.

This was not a man who would like you to play him falsely in any respect. Hermione appreciated that about him, his distrust. It made gaining his trust all the more valuable.

"I have accepted, with great effort of will," he said softly, dangerously, "that you like this." He cupped a handful of his soft breast into his hand and squeezed it. "It just makes me feel like I walked into a trap. And anything that seems to speak too much like the accoutrements of a trap makes me suspicious. Whether that's you appreciating my... Appetite.. Or you dangling before me visions of Eros so confounding that they make my head spin." He gazed at her menacingly.

"This isn't a trap," she responded, her own voice low and dangerous. "Accept that, and let's get fat together. For the right reasons, not the wrong ones."

"The right ones being?"

She grinned. "Enjoying it marvelously."

He nodded sagely, as if it had been his idea all along.

Chapter Text

He didn't seem to know how to respond, so he stumbled up and towered over the table. His lips pursed, and he touched his chin with his fingertip. She was reminded of how she first saw him that day in the Great Hall when they first encountered each other again, the way he had so carefully deliberated the choice he was going to make. It was a false sign of reservation, she saw now, an elegant but awkward attempt to stave off time before he took practically all of it.

"Just get whatever appeals to you," she said with a smile on her voice. "No need to debate with yourself."

He grimaced, apparently hating how easy he was to read, but did not respond, his sense of dignity too fragile to stop pretending at it.

He went ahead and brought down some things for them to share on the rug - a large toffee pudding (apparently he hadn't had enough), and a bowl of strawberries.

"Here," he said, the crisp white bowls gleaming in the firelight as he set them down, "have some."

She realized she had barely eaten dinner, other than the fried chips, and was still queasy with the emotional turmoil. She did take a strawberry and she chewed it, letting the sharp flavor cleanse her palate.

She was more interested in feeding him, for the moment, so she picked up a berry and licked it seductively.

"You," he murmured, laying down on the floor, belly flattening underneath him, "what are you doing?"

She didn't need to respond; she put the berry gently in between her teeth and went, belly first, to his eye level, grinning impishly.

"Fine," he moaned, and he inched towards her and began to lick her lips, slow and tantalizing, coaxing her until she gave up the fruit to his tongue.

"Thank you," he said once he'd swallowed it, and before he could say another word, she had another one in her hand, twirling in front of his face by its fibrous stem.

"That's not polite," he said with a groan, but snatched it out of her fingers like a shark grabbing at a fish slung over the back ledge of a boat.

"Why not?" She asked, pressing another one into her mouth, and he moved towards her again to grab it from her lips. She rolled over, starting to giggle, still in possession of the strawberry, which began to ooze its juice out of her mouth over her teeth and down her chin. She tried to suck it up but failed.

He settled the question by kneeling and, as she tried to escape, he lorded himself over her like a lion, with a heavy arm supporting him on one side, and the other possessively caging her on the other side, successfully pinning her down. She felt her chest pounding to have so much heaviness above her, and Snape's cruel smile... Was it play, or was it real? Probably both. He looked as smug as a Gryffindor that had caught its prey unguarded, and was prepared to use brute strength to overcome it to submission.

Oh yes, this was how Slytherins and Gryffindors were the same, Hermione thought, drinking in Severus' power. They both were lords of their ladies, conquerors at heart, never ceasing to have enemies, but also never ceasing to have passion. Slytherins just had been bullied so long they knew the value of hiding their truest desires from everywhere else - that was what disenfranchised people did to protect themselves. But in their own territory, when their own power had waxed.... Oh, Severus was a sight to see. She had, in her relationship with Ron, always thought of herself as the one in charge of the relationship- particularly in charge of such necessary evils as maintenance and care.

But here, in this relationship, she knew it wasn't so one-sided. Ron had never ceased to irritate her in how little he initiated in anything other than the obvious. This was not the case with Severus, no matter what was going on with his crystal-like love for Erika.

Oh, she knew the way he looked at her, he didn't think she was a fragile creature waiting to be protected by him from the cruel world. He saw her as different than that, she felt - a partner worth fucking, not worth worshipping. A partner worth twisting into submission for the sheer joy of it. A partner who wouldn't submit unless she wanted to - and half the pleasure was in convincing her.

He could indeed be a wolf, or a snake, or whatever convenient metaphor he chose. He could do this with her. Not with Erika, and certainly not with Lily.

She had never thought of herself as submissive, but here she was, letting him play her into that place so easily. What a delight it was not to have to be the one trying to get his attention! He was intensely focused on her every breath, watching as she fidgeted and moved.

She was startled from her rapturous wool gathering as he launched himself to the floor and bundled her inTo his arms and stole the squished strawberry from her parted lips, kissing her deeply afterwards, licking her chin and cheeks. Then, when satisfied, he relaxed, and she rolled slightly in his arms until he was spooning her as they lay on the floor.

"This is... Enjoyable," he murmured after some moments, "but I grow impatient. I think we need some more... Efficient methods, am I right?"

"After you," Hermione said with a smile. "I'm a bit worked up after the intensity of the past hour. Not feeling quite all right."

"I hear you," he murmured, and with a great effort he sat up, and the motion was such that his stomach slipped out from being constrained by his trousers; now his belt sat underneath his massive gut, and he rubbed it absently along the lines the belt cut into him. "Would you like to feed me, then? Would that whet your hunger?"

"yes," she said with an enthusiasm that made her own spine tingle.

.......:::
She let her fingers dive into the soft flesh of his belly and knead it. They were becoming used to having this decadent experience. it was like bathing in cream. And she was well on her way to developing her own luxurious body for them to enjoy.

"Let's get some more food into this belly," she said with a smile, and with gentle hands she guided him into a reclining position, his head propped up by pillows.

His hair arrayed beautifully across the silk and velvet, and she positioned herself beneath the pillows so that his head was indirectly on top of her thickening thigh. "There," she said with a whisper, "that comfortable?"

"Very," he returned, a sly smugness on his face.

His stomach, relishing the relaxed position, made satisfied gurgling noises.

"I can't tell if that means hungry or processing," Hermione said with a smile, "but either way, a bit more can't hurt."

Snape responded by leaning slightly upwards and putting his mouth on the fatty underside of her breast, a hot rush of teeth and soft tongue.

"Mmm," she murmured, feeling awash with heat. "I can't wait until we can sit like this and my breast is so big you can suck my nip from where you now sit."

He shivered. "That's a pleasing thought."

She struggled off her underwear, careful not to disturb him, and he made a motion to take off his trousers and pants as well.

"No," she said as she put an imperative hand on his belly, "wait."

"They hurt," he argued feebly.

She looked down and met his eyes. "Do you *really* want me to let you take them off?"

He nodded.

She conceded. "All right. But let's make sure we're both on the same page as we enter the play."

He mumbled his assent as he swiftly disentangled himself from his belt, trousers, and pants.

"All right," he said with a nearly silly grin, "I didn't think it was fair if you got to be disrobed while I didn't."

"No matter. I have some other plans for you, sweetheart," said Hermione. "Remember our safe word, though."

"I remember," he said with a low growl of pleasure.

"Then let's begin," she said with delight. She proceeded to accio his trousers to her hand. "You won't be needing these anymore, will you?" She asked softly. "They're far too small to be comfortable."

"I only have one other pair in an... Appropriate size," Severus said with embarrassment.

She nodded. "We can do something about that this week," she said. "For the moment, is there something else I can use?"

He wandlessly summoned a cotton dish towel from the kitchenette.

"This is fine," she answered. "Let's get started."

She proceeded to lay the cloth on top of his belly, grab her wand, and cast some interesting transfiguration spells. When it had finished transforming into a long bolt of cotton cloth, she gestured for him to help her get it underneath him, and he arched his back, unintentionally provocative as his belly became prominent, and she admired it with one hand caressing its curve.

She remained focused though, and stuffed the cloth underneath him. Then she began to magically cut and sew it, the first time she'd bothered with anything like this since Molly Weasley taught her the domestic skill. (Her face grew hot at the realization.) the cloth began to grow into an Oxford shirt, with buttons down the front. The fabric yielded to her easily, though it remained checkered and dish towel-like despite her efforts to blend it. She was also unable to get out the few snags that plagued the thing, but she managed to work them into buttonholes that were halfway passable.

Soon the shirt was done, and Hermione admired her handiwork. The towel had been repurposed to an almost unrecognizable end.

Severus looked at it skeptically, craning his neck.

"If I even sit up," he said with a grimace, "this entire thing will fall apart."

Hermione grinned with a thrill as he said that. The sight of him in this shirt was even more enticing than he'd looked in his trousers. The buttons gaped, revealing the delicate skin underneath, and looked in his

"The point," she said with a giggle, "is that you will be trapped where you are until you eat enough to burst the thing."

Severus' face grew quiet. "No," he murmured, "I can't do that. I'm already so full."

"Not too full to sass me, though," she replied smoothly. "No, Severus, I won't be satisfied that you've had enough until you eat your way out of that shirt. Come now, it's already so tight on you. You could do it right now if you finished that tin of pudding, now couldn't you?"

He groaned, and put a hand on his upper belly to massage it deeply with his fingers. She could already see his erection rising, which was a very good sign.

"I suppose," he tumbled good-naturedly. "But I can't do it without some help."

"No fear," Hermione said with a smile, and she accio'ed the tin of pudding into her hands. "I will stuff you, Severus, until you are too full to speak."

He nodded, and she was satisfied by the twinge his dick made as she spoke.

"I am ready," he announced, and she took the big wooden spoon from the table and drove it into the thick, gooey pudding. It was like driving a pylon into the sea, where it could stand right up afterwards, but she wasn't doing this for aesthetics. She took the spoon out of the pudding and gave Severus an enormous spoonful.

"Enjoy," she said with a soft smirk, and she was exhilarated to see him attack it ravenously. He practically inhaled it, then waved her hand to get more as he sucked it down.

"That's so rich," he murmured with a sigh after eating the second heaping spoonful. "I might be unable to tuck it in."

"Now that's all right," she said cheerfully, "you can take a break if you want to, my dear. Just know that this warm, sticky mess will be followed by a course of something quite different."

She pressed a strawberry into his mouth as he tried to respond, and he was effectively shut up for the moment.

"Hermione," he begged, and he thrust a second, then a third strawberry in his mouth, pudging out his cheeks in the way that made him look so plump and delectable. Then, as he swallowed, he seemed to have a flash of inspiration. "Mistress?"

That got her attention darned well. "Yes, poppet?" she asked, not sure how she chose the word, but if Severus objected, he didn't say so. In fact, she thought she saw a glimmer of warmth in his eyes. Maybe he liked being talked to like a child.

"Can't I have some more?" There was a contented purr in his voice that she found irresistible. She began to stroke his shirtfront, trying to smooth the wrinkles in vain.

"More what?" she asked, obviously she knew, but it was part of the play. She draped herself across him and kissed his cheek.

"More pudding," he said simply.

Hermione tsked with her tongue.

"Now darling, I know I usually let you have whatever you want, but I want to make sure you know that you're getting a bit, erm, big."

"Is that so?" he replied, the awe and surprise in his voice clearly a charade, but an effective one.

"Oh yes dearie," Hermione said, finding her voice sounded like her grandmother's strangely. It was a comforting sort of fretting. "I mean, haven't you gotten too big for your trousers? If you keep this up," she went on, her voice getting stiffer as her lady-bits got harder, "you might get fat."

"Oh no," murmured Severus, with childlike simplicity, and it was the most eerie and charming thing. "But," he went on, "what if I can't stop eating? I like to eat, Mistress. It's my favorite thing to do."

"Do you want to get fat?" answered Hermione, her face reddening as her hand grappled with the most convenient and beautiful roll of his fat.

"What's wrong with it?" asked Severus, and that was Hermione's cue. She ripped herself from the floor and sat herself down on top of his cock, her buttocks spreading over his balls and her vag firmly trapping his dick, forcing it to fold backwards up against his belly.

"Imagine your belly is as heavy as I am," she whispered, "that my fat behind is your own belly and pubic fat. They’re so large and so jiggly that they trap your precious willy and hide it in a massive blob of flesh."

He shuddered in ecstasy, his eyes closed, his hands groping her blindly until they got to her beautiful deflating-bubble butt. (She’d noticed her buttocks just starting to sag with cellulite as the fat cells began to adhere to gravity's call.)

"Do you want to get so big, Severus," she whispered, "that you can't get out of bed, that you're entirely dependent on me, your busty Mistress-slave, to fetch and carry for you what you yourself cannot?"

He was clearly having immense trouble keeping his body from succumbing to the rapture of orgasm, so all he could do was nod.

"Good, good, my sweetheart," she whispered, "then here you go."

She gently got off him, and his hands went immediately to touch himself, to alleviate some of the desperate pangs of lust that she had evoked in him. She grabbed his hands in a forceful coup.

"No," she said imperiously, "not until you have finished your dinner."

He moaned with what seemed like genuine pain, so she broke for a moment. "Do you want to stop?" she asked, staring at him seriously. And his eyes opened to look into hers with what seemed to be actual hurt and struggle.

He answered, in a hiss, "No."

"Are you sure?" she confirmed, "You don't look particularly happy"

"Go back," he sneered, his face reddening, "now."

"All right," she said, and he glared at her even for saying this. She grabbed the tin of pudding, and Severus demanded, "Say it again."

"What?" she asked, and he groaned. Then she realized what he meant. "Oh," she responded, squeezing his hands again and holding him down. She leaned in closely, slowly, until her lips met his ear.

In an erotically dramatic fashion, she whispered, "You can touch yourself any time you like, as much as you like, but only after you have finished your dinner. You promised me that you'd finish your toffee pudding." She then lifted the spoon to his lips. "Were your eyes bigger than your stomach?"

"Never," he responded hoarsely. He proceeded to grab all of the contents from the spoon with his teeth, and as he chewed, a change came over him. He tore his hands out of her grasp. “Now,” he said, one hand on his belly, the other propping his head up in an incredibly luxurious fashion, “let’s dispense with the frivolity. Feed me, witch.”

She saw it was her time to let him be in charge, and she shrank away a bit as she lifted the next spoonful to his mouth. He took it and swallowed it swiftly, and then gestured for something to drink.

Hermione grabbed him the pitcher of milk, and she poured him a tumbler and gave it to him. He drank it greedily, his thick double-chin bobbing as he gulped. He gave the tumbler back to her, and she put it on the floor, and as her head was turned she peripherally saw him stifle a burp in his sleeve.

She then took the spoon and offered it to him again. He took another heaping bite, but frustration seemed to set in. He seemed about to say something caustic, but instead revised, it instead saying, “This...oh, just give it to me.”

Hermione gave him the spoon and held the bowl for him. He proceeded to go to town on that tin of toffee pudding. While substantially larger than the other one, he made steady progress.

During his next milk break, the man finally lost the buttons on his shirt. Hermione was watching for any sign of breakage, as the shirt’s buttons couldn’t possibly take any more strain, and she was delighted when, as he took a deep breath after drinking a full tumbler of milk, the buttons practically peeled off.

“Gods,” was all he said, with relief, and he peeled off the scraps of what was left of the shirt (which, granted, was all of it, minus buttons.)

He didn’t see the red marks that dotted his torso, instead picking up the pudding again and stuffing himself to the finish.

Hermione got up, rummaged around his desk drawers, and found a tincture of hazel to put on the red marks.

He was startled by his ministrations, but was at the point where he had to pause for breath between bites, so he didn’t say anything.

He started outright panting as he neared the bottom of the pan.

“It’s… it’s too much,” he moaned, laying back on the pillows, “I’m so… so full. More milk, please?”

She gave him the tumbler back, and he drank two full glasses, though it took him a great deal of effort to get them down; in the end, he had to take little sips.

“You’re doing so well,” Hermione said. “Just a bit more, now.”

He nodded, and looked about ready to fall asleep. “I know,” he said lamely, and he yawned, which turned into another burp, which he stifled far less subtly. Embarrassed, he glanced at her, and she just patted the top of his tummy as reassurance.

“How can I get you to finish?” Hermione asked, and Severus looked at her with such a painful grimace, she knew it was nearly time.

“We’re almost there,” she said, “come on, Sev. You helped demolish the dark lord, certainly you can finish your cake.”

He looked like he was going to start laughing, but then he looked like he was going to throw up if he started laughing, so he just groaned and rubbed his belly. “Don’t… don’t make me laugh,” he warned her.

“I won’t again,” she promised. “Here.”

She picked up the tin of pudding, dragged her finger through the sauce, and held it to Severus’ lips. He sucked on it hungrily, until it was clean, and he sighed in contentment.

This was going to be easier than she expected.

She did this a grand total of twenty-three times, and the entire bowl was clean.

Severus, however, was unmovable. He looked like he was about to be sick any moment, and Hermione implored him to recline and relax, and she rubbed his overtaxed tummy with vigorous motions.

“How was that?” she asked Severus as he stared at her through nearly-closed eyelids.

“Wonderful,” he affirmed, “as usual.”

His breathing proceeded to get slower, and then finally it was clear he had fallen asleep. Hermione snuffed out the candles in the room with a swift hand, then accio’ed one of the throws from the sofa, and draped it over them, with some extension spells of course.

Then, she cuddled up to him, making herself the big spoon as she fit her body against his, and draped her hand over his belly, to conveniently massage it as she drifted off, too.

Chapter Text

The weeks rolled by with relative ease after that long, tumultuous weekend. Hermione found herself making a frustrating amount of progress on her weight gain, partially because of the stress they had gone through over the course of that weekend of October. It took her several days to acquire equilibrium again, despite their delicious play on Sunday evening.

But two weeks later, a stone’s throw from Halloween, she came to a breakthrough, and it was joyous and sexy.

It was a Saturday morning. She had gained significantly less than her goal of two pounds a day - in two weeks she had put on scarcely ten pounds. Her hopes of gaining a hundred pounds come Christmas were, she feared, long gone.

She had been working a bit too hard, Severus told her, on the conference, and she wasn't exactly putting her teaching on the side burner either. She was preparing her students hard for the upcoming NEWTS and OWLS, which seemed like they were coming up in a shorter time than not, and that meant extra hours grading, providing a revision group, and more. While Severus seemed to eat more the more stressed he was, she found herself eating less because she was so frantically busy.

Severus, once or twice, mentioned his potions, but she frowned and refused them. Her weight gain was not going to be sustainable unless it was natural, she knew, and she didn't want to come by her added voluptuousness by what she felt would be cheating.

But one Saturday her luck seemed to change.

She awoke to the sound of water running in the bathroom. It was warm where she was in bed - in fact, she felt like someone had thoughtfully cast a warming charm on her - but with enough effort she managed to shake it off. The fire was in embers, quietly emanating a cozy heat, and it sounded like Severus was running a bath.

She went to the bathroom and knocked. "Enter," he said, his voice echoey on the marble.

She went inside and was wrapped in steam. Severus was in the shallow end of the enormous bathtub, only partly submerged as the water ran. He had his glasses on and his computer positioned on a stool within reach of him. He lay on his side, his chin propped on the rim of the tub, and his dry hand scrolled on the trackpad. His other hand was hidden beneath the bubbling water, which, at a mere foot deep at that part, was enough to obscure everything lower than his breasts. The water lapped at these gently, teasingly.

Hermione smiled and cast a hand over her body absently. "Room for one more?" she asked, and he nodded, clearly in a good humor.

“It's bigger on the inside,” he said, and she slipped into the foaming water, which was a beautiful aquamarine color, the shade of a chlorinated swimming pool. It smelled like the ocean, serenely briny. The bubbles were magnetic to her skin, attaching themselves to her in a protective ring.

The tub was indeed bigger than it looked - magic was trippy that way - and Hermione put her legs around him and pressed her crotch against his squishy wet bottom. He shivered slightly as she moved her dry hands gently down his arms, inching like spiders; her hands disconnected around where his fleshy upper arms ended at the elbows, and her hands floated through the air to land at his sumptuous love-handles, which she grasped fervently, stroking his taut skin, which was flushed with the heat of the bath.

She ground against him, then submerged her hands in the water to follow the curve of his belly from the thigh to the unreachable penis.

Try as she might, there was no way her hands could meet when they were tight around his circumference. She put that down to both his massive size, but also the amount of pudge she'd put on herself, particularly in the area of her breasts and belly.

But she could, if she leaned far enough, and was willing to wrap along his hip line rather than his belly, still get at his member from this position. It was awkward and ungainly, but her hand dove beneath the ponderous overhang of fat and could grasp his balls in her hand, though just barely.

He turned his head back to look at her, and his eyes were full of lust and pleading.

“Let's try this a different way,” she said, and she motioned for him to turn around. He pushed his computer away, and she got a glimpse of some intriguing photographs. Mermaids, it so happened, mermaids with large creamy bellies and breasts, all of them with beautiful hair that floated around them in the water.

"Well," Hermione said with a smirk, gesturing at the computer, "is this the mood you're in?"

"A bit," he replied, his face reddening, but there was a hint of a smile on his face. "The Slytherin’s common room always had its...point of intrigue, for me, in this way."

Hermione nodded, and they recalibrated their position in the bath. He slipped from the shallower depth and disentangled himself from her grasp, moving towards the deeper edge of the bath. "Come," he purred.

The water was deep enough and broad enough that it might have been more efficient to swim, though not so deep that she couldn't stand on the floor and still breathe. It was about four feet deep at its lowest point. Like the swimming pools Hermione had grown up with at her local muggle community center, it had places to sit carved out of the wall, and even when the water was off, it created a marvelous series of waves automatically, gentle and relaxing.

Severus sat himself on one of the ledges of the tub, and one hand attached immediately to his cock. Hermione brushed it away and took his cock and balls into her own hands, and in response, his own hands moved to part her labia and play with her clit. The water made his hands silky, and she gasped as he brushed her, over and over.

Her face must have drained of color as she felt her body writhe with pleasure, and she felt her head go woozy with the orgasm.

"Relax," he said, and disconnected her hands from his parts, - his dick was as hard as a dragon’s toe - “just enjoy it."

She felt herself go numb with relaxation, and as she let herself relax, she found her legs floating up.

"Perfect," Severus intoned, and once she was floating completely flat, he separated her legs a little more. His touch was almost electric, and she was fascinated at how his tongue moved so ravenously over her skin.

She sank a little bit into the water as he indulged her, her body involuntarily flexing with rigidity, and he followed, his head ducking underwater for a concerning amount of time until she realized he must be using a bubble head type of charm. He finally released her and she panted gratefully as the stillness seeped into her. The water lapped around her body and she floated, relaxed and unmoving.

"That was brilliant," she slurred, breathing deeply the aromatic air. Bubbles began to emerge in her crevices in unexpected ways, and she shivered and stood straight.

"Thanks," he said, his smile shy and obliging, and she couldn't help but grab him forcefully and smother him in hot, careless kisses, ignited by his efforts.

He seemed momentarily bewildered, but kissed her back just as ardently after a brief second of hesitation. His lips were wet with water, his face and hair drenched, and she ran her hand through his long tresses stuck together though they were, and she toyed with them as she enjoyed him.

Gradually her hands started moving lower, and her head too, pausing to suck temptuously at his nipples, so naughtily positioned on the thick slabs of his breast meat. He moaned as she did so, and her hand roamed across his stretch-marked belly, which was like silk in the sudsy water. It was beyond pleasurable to touch, and she found herself becoming fiercely turned on again. One of her hands wandered to her clit, which she stroked ferociously, and she began to come again, leaving her charge unattended with guilt.

"Gods," he murmured, and he reconnected her hand with his aching, ramrod member, which she took reluctantly - her hand grabbed at him with the same fierceness she needed inside her, and she stroked with the same viciousness with which she wanted to be penetrated.

He proceeded to grab her head and, purposefully, he gently shoved it in a downward way.

The urgentness of his request was not lost on her, but sucking dick underwater was not something she was prepared to do without significant aid. "Spell me?" She asked, and with a pass of his hand over her face, she felt a gasp of breathlessness emerge in her throat and she plunged underwater. She was able to breathe there, and she took a moment to recuperate. Then she saw that her vision was clear, as if she were wearing goggles, and severus' cock ached meaningfully, begging for mercy. Sev was obligingly making room for her face by holding up the massive poundage of his front.

So delicious. Her face went straight for deep throat - she had, after all, researched this years ago out of a desire to be Better Than Lavender at sexing Ron - and fortunately his cock wasn't so long that she gagged on it, like Ron’s always had made her do. She was indeed highly satisfied with his feel in her mouth, the water giving his cock the texture of a massive tongue. Sometimes, though she wasn't entirely sure how she managed it, as she stroked him with her mouth, her lips would grace his succulent pubic fat, which would make him visibly shudder every time. She did her best to jiggle it with every stroke, one hand grasping the base of his cock and pressing deeply into his pillow like fat there.

Also his balls. They were enormous, and looked strangely bigger underwater. She jostled them warmly like birds eggs, clasping them and stroking them. She felt thrilled to be there, so close to him in the morning.

Then his muscles convulsed with a definitiveness, and she began to work more vigorously, bracing herself for the final push. Victory came swiftly, squirting in her mouth, and she collected it and spit it out into the water discreetly when he pulled himself out of her mouth.

She came up again for air, gasping, eyes blurry as though she was underwater. he had his head rolled back. She tapped him and touched her throat, and he released her from the spell that made her breathe above water like she was under, and vice versa.

"Clever spell," she murmured when she had her breath back. "Where'd you get it?"

He grinned and shook his head, letting out a soft moan. "Clever girl," he murmured, panting for breath, "give me a moment to recover."

She was not planning on doing anything of the sort, and she climbed out of the bath and grasped one of the warm Slytherin-green towels that presented themselves to her. "Time to be productive," she said, wrapping one gingerly around her self, and one around her mass of bodacious hair. She smiled seductively at him as he looked wearily back.

"Don't forget," he said with a grumpy petulance, "that I have twenty years and a hundred pounds on you."

"Well," Hermione said with a laugh, "I thought we were going to work on that last part."

He sighed, with faux aggrievance, and he hoisted himself up out of the bath with trembling arms. "You're shameless," he said, his thick feet slapping the tile mercilessly, and wiped himself off with a towel, then thrust himself into a luxurious silk robe that, Hermione noticed, actually tied around him as intended, with room to spare.

"You won't be able to fit in that for long," she said with a melodic teasing voice, and he responded by grabbing her around the waist from behind, with a ferocity that made her clit beg to be touched again.

Pressed close against him like she was, she heard him whisper in her ear, in a voice so low and seductive that he must have imported it from hell, Severus murmured, "When I'm done with you, neither will you."

"Fuck," Hermione whimpered, and looked around for a convenient place to lay down and get herself off. She decided the fluffy frieze bath mat would suffice, and she unravelled her towel and spread it across the tile. Then, putting her beautifully-formed behind on the rug, she lay upon her makeshift bed. The warm dampness of the water residue in the towel was a balm on her back, and the marble tile of the floor was cold on her heels. She spread her legs apart anyway.

Severus didn't need to be told what to do, and he knelt down and eased himself into the place between her legs, putting his knees on the mat. His robe came slightly unfurled, the belt riding up his belly, exposing his delicate scarred flesh and thick thighs. He automatically used one hand to try and readjust his robe, but it was pretty much futile while his other hand was occupied in Hermione's vagina. She needed very little persuasion to come heavily under his practiced hand, and her body bucked with pleasure.

She was soon panting and spent, her body glowing with the rush of hormones and fresh orgasm. "Beautiful," she murmured happily, and Severus eased himself up from the floor with surprising agility.

"Altogether too much before breakfast," he said grumpily, extending his hand to help her rise, but she knew he was joking. "Come on, my dear, calories wait for no man."

"It's true," she said with a smirk, "though a good fucking always makes me ravenous."

"A fine thing, too," he said, "since we've wasted so many calories working so hard this morning."

"I'll make them up, no problem," Hermione intoned giddily, and unwrapped the towel from around her hair - it had gotten loose in their exertions - and encased her body in it. It was smaller than the other towel, and it barely came together around her waist. She grabbed a pin from the dresser and closed it, at the top, but The rest of her body was visible in the wide split that followed her growing pear shape.

He drank in the view appreciatively. "You'd better," he purred, placing a hand on her growing roll of belly fat, his thumb slipping down until he grabbed it and heaved it in an upwards motion. It overfilled his hand and jiggled invitingly, sending a sensitive shiver through her body, but didn't have enough flesh behind it to be lifted; it wasn't quite yet an overhang like he had. "Wouldn't want to wake up tomorrow with a skinny Minnie in my arms. You're quite small still."

"Then let's feed me up," Hermione said, and grabbed his hand and marched out of the room, him following meekly.

Chapter Text

Severus and Hermione seated themselves down to a breakfast that was of distressing beauty.

 

"I can't possibly finish all this," pleaded Hermione as she watched the table magically become laden with more and more food. "This is a lot, Severus."

 

"Your at least make an effort to try, witch," said Severus comfortably, easing himself into his favorite chair. His arse filled it well - as he settled himself down, the pads of buttock fat jiggled beneath him, distinctly sloshing the rest of his body backwards and forwards with the tiniest of motions. It was like he was settling in the middle of a voluminous water bed.

 

"You've been putting some on," Hermione observed, "you'll have to help me out."

 

He flushed red as he lay a hand on top of his belly. "I certainly intend to," he said with an arched eyebrow.

 

The robe he wore was the right size while standing, but while sitting it was tightly clinging to him, revealing the jiggly buttery mountain that was his bloated tum. Every motion he made, it wobbled just a bit. Readjusting in his chair, shifting his weight on his buttocks, made his fat slosh around so appealingly.

 

He was fit to burst, she thought with a flush rising on her own cheeks, her lady-boner becoming painful.

 

He took up his fork and, not breaking eye contact with her, began to slice into a stack of hot cakes as broad as his round face.

 

She smiled, and took up her own utensils. Time for carbohydrates of her own - her preference was for salty to start, and she brought forward a platter of bacon croissants.

 

One of them flew out of her reach before she could grasp it, and she saw Severus mopping up his plateful of extra syrup with the pastry.

 

"How'd you eat all those so fast?" she demanded, her heart racing as she saw his hot cakes were gone.

 

He just grinned with a supercilious look. "Now I've sated myself for the moment, it's time to help you," he said, stuffing the rest of the croissant in his mouth.

 

Hermione sat back and let him approach her. She let her legs spread wide as she relished the feeling of her thigh fat wobbling beneath her. What was it about thigh fat that made her feel so...expansive? Voluptuous?

 

She realized it as soon as she saw the way he strode unsteadily from his side of the table to hers. He tried to mask it with his usual gliding stride, but she could tell he was subtly more unsteady, just a touch more waddley. Increased poundage was to blame, she imagined. It was probably time for her to weigh him and get a sense of how much man she had to fuck her.

 

Yes, he took up just a bit more space with every new pound he added to his vast frame, and every inch looked so natural and becoming on him that she could barely remember how he looked during her old school days.

 

Hermione shuddered as he laid his thick face in the crook between her neck and clavicle, and just breathed heavily in her hair.

 

"What do you want?" he whispered. His voice was hoarse, and he pressed himself against her side. A rising erection got her attention, though it wasn't full fledged given their wholehearted efforts earlier.

 

Hermione reached for the urgently-haranguing cock and clasped her hand around its softness, wrapping the silken cloth of Severus’ robe around it.

 

“I want to be the fattest bitch you ever fucked,” she said, the words rolling out of her mouth easily as she pressed her ample side against him. She didn’t think she had much of a sadistic streak, but sometimes the mood struck her.

 

“Curses,” he murmured in agony, wrapping his arms around her and pressing her tighter against him. “You know how to tease me.”

 

“And so do you know how to tease me,” agreed Hermione, and she grabbed at Severus’ hands and removed them from her person. “Be useful, my dear, or be gone.”

 

Not needing to be told twice, Severus settled his large arse onto the arm of her chair, straddling it with his thick slabs of thighs. His right one jostled joyfully against her, contained beneath the silk but tightly pressed against it. She pressed against him, helping him balance, and opened her mouth expectantly.

 

“I know you don’t want potions to increase the size of your stomach,” Severus said, his voice soft and steely, “but how about charms? Spells?”

 

Hermione grinned. “Have you been experimenting?”

 

He nodded, his long hair fanning across his plump and ruddy cheek. “A bit. Nothing particularly mind-blowing. A charm to subvert the gag reflex, for one thing, and another to permit the expansion of the jaw and throat as needed to accommodate food.”

 

Hermione felt uncomfortable, and started imagining cartoons where the mouths of the characters would get bigger and bigger.

 

“Show me,” she said, “I want to see you use it first.”

 

He grinned shyly. “You seem to find every conceivable excuse for me to eat, my darling.”

 

“Don’t tell me you don’t like it,” she purred in response, her face warming with a blush.

 

He just smirked in response, and with a quick wand-tap on his throat and chin, he lay down his wand and took up a basket of crumpets instead.

 

“And now,” he said, and lifted the basket to his mouth, “the demonstration.” He tilted his head back, and, without further ado, poured the crumpets into his mouth. The movement was gentle and slow, as was to be expected from a potions-master used to tipping substances into cauldrons in a controlled fashion. And somehow each crumpet, nearly the size of Severus’ hand, managed to wend its way into his mouth. It wasn’t as if his mouth was visibly growing larger, at least not that Hermione could tell.

 

But, ah, his stomach was. With a whole basket of crumpets in his belly, he settled back against the chair for support, and rubbed the bloated top of his belly with care.

 

“That… don’t do that with dry carbohydrates,” he said with a groan, “they expand so much in the stomach, so quickly, that there’s no room for anything else.”

 

“But they do digest easier,” Hermione said, her hand settling into a comfortable place just below Severus’ heavy breasts, and she began to massage him gently.

 

“Oh Merlin,” Severus half-groaned, half-growled, “Oh, minx. You distracting wench. We’ll never get you up to your weight goal if every time I try and feed you up, you turn the tables on me.”

 

“True,” Hermione said, and pinched Severus’ ample love-handle tenderly. “But you’re so fun to feed.”

 

“I suppose I do play the part of willing participant,” he responded begrudgingly, and then, with a heaving sigh, he sat forward. “Would you like to try this series of spells?”

 

Hermione looked at him. His face was sweaty, and he wiped it with his sleeve. Her hand hadn’t left the cozy place where it’d made its home, caressing his flesh through his quality robe.

 

“You know what,” she said, and let out a breath - along with her sense of dignity - “I would like to go ahead and use some potions. I do have a goal, and while I’d prefer for this all to go along naturally, it seems as if I’m being silly by holding out.”

 

“But you were worried about the lack of permanence,” Severus said, his face contorting with question. “About deflating, so to speak.”

 

“Let’s confront that once we come to it,” Hermione said with a tone of finality. “For the moment, I would like to try anything and everything we can. We have a goal. I’m scarcely 183 pounds at this point. I’d like to reach 324 within approximately two months. We have a hundred and forty-odd pounds to put on in that time.”

 

“And, again,” Severus drawled, seemingly recovered from his stiff bout of pain from the crumpets, “why that number in particular?”

 

Hermione’s face crinkled with delight. “A wager I made with Ron. Also,” she said, a smirk coming onto her face, “that’s how much you weighed at the beginning of this month. You’ve surpassed that well by now, haven’t you?”

 

Snape just rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to answer. His newest stretch marks were telltale signs of his gluttony.

 

“We’ll start with what we already know has worked in the past,” Hermione said, her bossiness coming to the forefront. “We have experimented with the expansion potion, and the pain suppressant potion. We’ll use both of those now, in the amounts I previously used.”

 

She paused. “Last time we used the potions, I gained ten pounds afterwards. All of that went straight to my beautiful growing gut.” She patted it fondly, and Severus’ hand began to wander towards it, his thumb sinking below her not-quite-hangy-overhang and grasping her belly fat firmly. “I’m not entirely sure if we managed just to do that in one day, or if that happened over the course of that week.”

 

He looked thoughtful. “I think it’s possible that you gained, perhaps, a full five to seven pounds during that session we had. The remainder, I believe, came from the rest of the week.”

 

“Excellent,” Hermione said, and summoned a piece of parchment from her desk. “So, if I calculate this correctly…”

 

She did some brief mental math, then smiled.

 

“We have to fill me up like that nearly every day until Christmas, but we shall get there. A hundred and forty pounds in about sixty days means I should gain between two to three pounds a day. If we stuff me like we did that one time every day between then and now, we’ll have met the goal.”

 

Severus’ eyes were wide. “You don’t mean you’ll actually go through with this so seriously?” he said, his hand retreating, his eyes somewhat wild with worry. “There may be serious repercussions to such rapid gain, Hermione.”

 

She smirked. “Better do it now, then, while I’m young and relatively fit. My body will adapt better. It’ll be like training,” she mused, “or studying.” Her eyes lit up. “Could we call them lessons?”

 

“Oh gods,” Snape cursed, shaking his head, “that I cannot do, Hermione. We will never, ever, ever, play around with that dynamic. Never.”

 

“Just thought I’d ask,” Hermione responded, feeling a twinge of sadness at his vehemence. Playing with the teacher/student dynamic was deeply appealing to her, all the more so because he resisted it so.

 

“So in any case,” she said, trying to remain bouyant, “enough dicking about. Let’s get started on this and get it over with, so I can get back to grading. I’ve got so much revision to do with these children.”

 

“Understood,” Severus said, always responsive to her need to grade. He was full of gratitude, she knew, about not having to do it himself any longer. “Let’s commence.”

 

……….

 

As per their success last time, he administered the exact quantity of twelve drops of the expansion potion, setting it aside for once she finished her first successful stuffing. And then, she commenced with the eating, using the new charms he’d tested.

 

Oh, it was heavenly to be able to inhale hot cakes and eggs and bacon without a care in the world for chewing or tasting. No, this was serious eating, not even for the pleasure of it, but for the delayed anticipation of a future deliciously plump body.

 

Ah yes, she mused to herself, one might even call this *weight training.*

 

She slurped as much as she could down, and then settled back in her chair with an ‘oof.’ Severus, his own belly starting to sag and swell as his carbs digested, reassured her by giving her the water to drink. All at once, her belly flooded with room, and the enhanced stretching capacities were exciting to fill.

 

Oh, despite herself, she enjoyed herself. Severus summoned towards her an enormous coffee cake, covered in sweet crumble and oozing with warm chocolate bits. With the new charm, she lifted the entire thing and put it in her mouth. How it worked she couldn’t quite say, but the food was successfully inside her mouth, and she chewed it, and swallowed it, without any difficulty.

 

To cut the cloying sweetness, he offered her a pitcher of fresh orange juice. Then, after a moment, he had a realization.

 

“Wait,” he said, and heaved his enormous buttocks off the chair and went to the kitchen, his tread heavy as he went. Soon he returned with a pound of sugar. With a deft hand, he opened the top, and poured it in.

 

Hermione grinned. “Might as well get the extra calories in,” she said with a smirk. “Well done, darling.”

 

He grinned in the way he often did when he was doing something she thought was kind, but he thought was selfish. She didn’t protest, and instead simply drank down the picture in a few enthusiastic glugs.

 

“Excellent,” she said, and paused as Severus wiped her face with a fine linen cloth. “Now some more meat, my dear.”

 

He glanced about, and then gathered up a platter of kidneys. While not Hermione’s favorite breakfast item, they certainly were filling and fattening, so she swallowed those down and let them settle into her expansive belly.

 

“This is becoming less and less squishy,” she said with delight, drawing her hand over her belly, so taut and tight it appeared as if she were pregnant. “I’m enjoying this a lot, my dear.”

 

“Glad,” Severus replied thickly, clearing his throat.

 

Her hand rustled against his silk gown as it slipped down, and she found his cock growing hard beneath it.

 

“Keep at it,” she said with a sense of deep satisfaction, “we haven’t stuffed me senseless yet.”

 

He nodded and, like a good servant, he brought forward several options for her next enjoyment - more of that heavenly strawberries with cream, as well as a platter of overstuffed sausages, and a large basket of hot biscuits.

 

Oh, the biscuits would always be her first choice. She grabbed them and shoveled one after another down her expanded throat. It felt so good to just shove bite after bite down, and she felt the dense fatty carbs swell in her belly.

 

The entire two dozen soon was consumed, and oh, she was growing full finally.

 

“Sausage,” she grunted, feeling every bit a pig ready to be slaughtered, and Severus brought bite after bite to her open and willing mouth as she swallowed them. Each bit brought her a little bit closer to fullness, a little bit closer to completion.

 

And then, finally, there was only one.

 

“Strawberries,” she said, waving away the final sausage. Severus nodded and grabbed the strawberries. She couldn’t be bothered to say or do any more, so he spooned the thick mixture into her mouth, and she swallowed greedily, envisioning how every bite was going to combine to create a magical mixture of fat that would soon be draping over her body like plush and silk.

 

Then, finally, she was done with these also, and she strained her neck to look into Severus’ eyes. He was glistening with sweat, and as she looked at him with askance in her eyes, he pressed his hard member against her. He’d recovered quite a lot, and was ready to fuck her again, there was no question about that.

 

He began to tug away at his robe, and it unfolded around him, slipping to the floor as he steadied himself. Hermione reclined back in her chair, experiencing the weightlessness that came with being so badly overstuffed, and she cooed at him, pointing one pudgy finger at the final sausage.

 

He looked at her and grabbed it, and raised it to her mouth to bite.

 

“No,” she mumbled, and stifled a belch. She pointed at her nether regions, which had been neglected this entire time. “There.”

 

He chuckled, and with one hand around his own cock, he took the cock-sized sausage and, with a quick glance to check in with her, he thrust it inside her wet vagina, which sucked at it hungrily.

 

He didn’t need to be told how to move it, or where to try and hit. He had quite a bit of practice at this point, and she moaned and groaned with the augmenting pleasure until she climaxed, her entire body forcefully shaking with the experience of orgasm.


She came three times more before she ordered him, with a flick of her hand, to be done with it, and then he took the sausage into his hand and looked at her expectantly.

 

“It’s calories,” she murmured, “but I can’t eat another bite.”

 

“I won’t let them go to waste,” he said with a darkly passionate kiss of her cunt, and he ate the sausage himself, covered though it was with her juices.

 

Oh, she felt so lovely at the sight of this! Particularly since he went straight back to her cunt once he was done with the sausage, which had only served to whet his appetite for her wet juices. He licked and sucked, and she whimpered and begged, and his fingers made their way up her vagina, sticking together so well that she came again right then and there.

 

Then, with a swift motion, he helped her up. “Come, my vixen,” he said with a dark grin, “you’d best come with me.”

 

Then he led her to the bedroom, and proceeded to fuck her precious brains out.

 

Chapter Text

The days rolled by, and Hermione put in the requisite amount of effort. Severus, as her feeder, went above and beyond the call of duty. He fetched and carried for her, ensured that there was never a moment where her fingers were lacking a nearby full plate, and gently encouraged her once she was already full.

 

All of the talk about gaining, all the time, made Hermione heady, and she found herself masturbating with greater regularity - her only exercise, Severus observed with a smirk. She always needed to get off after breakfast, and almost always needed to after dinner. Once in a while, Severus would even indulge her in a post-lunch coitus, which left her even hornier and hungrier for the evening's repast.

 

Severus, in turn, even helped her with grading sometimes, along with the preparations for the conference.

 

The night of Halloween was a welcome deviation from their rigorous schedule of several days. Classes were off for the day, since the students could scarcely focus, and Hermione and Snape made an appearance in the Great Hall for the holiday feast.

 

"Hm," McGonagall said, his eyes wide as she looked over both of her staff potioneers. Hermione was donned in a skintight dress that left nothing to the imagination. At a squishy ten pounds heavier since last Saturday, and a full twenty heavier since last time she'd spoken with the headmistress, Hermione was definitely a sight to see.

 

Severus also was straining at the belt, sweat on his brow from lugging around his excessive stomach, and McGonagall swallowed her disapproval. Both of them seemed puzzlingly intent on eating themselves silly, and while McGonagall didn't like it, she supposed she had to accept it. What was the alternative?

 

Still it was disgusting the way they flaunted their sexuality - neither at all ashamed as Hermione subtly expanded Severus' chair when his rear overflowed the wooden arms uncomfortably. He sighed contentedly, and squeezed hermione's own burgeoning rump, which was blossoming into a becoming the sweetest set of peaches west of Glasgow.

Both of them couldn't keep their hands off the appetizer bread rolls, and their basket had to be refilled before McGonagall could remark on the situation.

 

All she could do, she realized, was provide a stern glare whenever she managed to catch either of their eyes.

 

Not that she was able to do so much. Severus, for his part, when he managed to tear his eyes away from the feast of food before them, tantalizing them all, his eyes were devouring Hermione, in particular her breasts and expansive stomach. He clearly was under her spell, and his eyes were fierce and protective of her, but also penetrating with lustful hunger.

 

Hermione, slightly more demure and subtle in her admiration of him, stared contentedly over the heads of her students, but her eyes were glazed over and far away, and McGonagall soon saw why - the girl's hand was deep under the table in Snape's lap.

 

This would not do, but there was suddenly a clinking of glasses as her deputy headmaster Flitwick called the hall to order.

 

And then she was standing, staring at all of the students who were alternately bored or irritated. She glanced at the other members of the head table, and saw that Hermione's hands were chastely folded over her belly.

 

She didn't notice that Severus' hands were now strangely absent from the table.

 

With some relief, but also some worry, McGonagall gave a bland speech that lasted far too long in everyone else's opinion but her own, she knew. But no matter. They could wait a little more to remember that after Halloween was all hallow's day, and everyone could do with a reminder to not overdo it tonight.

 

This message, she knew, would fall on deaf ears, not the least of which would be her poor examples of potions masters, past and present.

 

She was rewarded with the knowledge of being right as she regarded them begin to eat. Severus didn't even bother to ladle himself any beef stew, simply placing a whole tureen in front of him and using the serving spoon as his own. Hermione, again, was more subtle, and placed an entire loaf of egg bread between them, out of reach of anyone else, and proceeded to use it to sop up some of the sauce from his bowl. Too quickly the entire loaf had disappeared, mostly into her belly.

 

Once the stew was extinguished; Severus settled back in his seat to rub his belly, and Hermione took an entire tray of pumpkin flat cakes and prepared them, apparently for him - wrapping them into rolls with the aid of sticky apple butter and cream.

 

Then, surprisingly, Severus sat up and, with a look of intense concentration, refilled Hermione's wine glass and fed her one of the cloyingly sweet rolls she had prepared.

 

Oh! To watch this endeavor was strangely heartening for Minerva, who liked to see Severus looking self important and useful. He certainly had a purpose now, it seemed - and it was to take care of Hermione.

 

It occurred to Minerva that Hermione might be pregnant. The amount of care and attention he was paying to her, after all, was beautiful in a way that seemed to evoke parental themes. The way Severus rubbed Hermione's belly also seemed to be suggestive of this. Of course it didn't occur to McGonagall that she'd witnessed Hermione's hands ghosting across Severus' belly earlier that evening, and hadn't come to the same conclusion. Minerva was, in fact, a bit old fashioned.

 

Indeed, Hermione's bulging belly and the couple's intensive attention towards said tummy seemed conclusive enough. Hermione was clearly pregnant. It didn't make sense otherwise.

 

McGonagall was attuned enough to realize that Severus and Hermione were unconventional enough a couple that they might consider having a child before marriage or something. So she just shook her head - Hermione was certainly eating more than the fair share her child deserves - but at least it made some sense to her.



In either case, she passed them a plate of roasted figs wrapped in bacon - one of her own favorite treats - and gave the couple a half-hearted encouraging smile.

 

Her eyes widened as she watched Severus eat about half of the delicacies while Hermione glared sternly at him, but he dutifully changed his course in due time in order to stuff his partner's face instead.

 

"Careful now," she said, her voice carrying clearly across the table. "Mind that this is the sort of food that really sticks to the ribs, Severus."

 

He grinned at her - grinned! Severus Snape was smiling! - and he said with a singsong voice, "Minerva, do you think my ribs will even notice something more sticking to them, at this rate?"

 

Then, with a laugh at her horrified eyes, he slapped his belly, sending it jiggling with a horrific motion that reminded her just how big he'd gotten.

 

Ruefully, she looked away as he laughed again, his bark strident and forceful, and then she watched him from the corner of her eye, more discreetly the rest of the dinner. He was truly gorging himself, she saw, it wasn't just his exhaustive appetite. He was going all out, as if to keep paces with Hermione.

 

Hermione. Oh the poor dear had tended towards plump towards the end of her school years, but nothing nearly so thick as she seemed to be headed. Watching as the girl scooped up another pint-sized dollop of ice cream from the central platters and swallow it all with a few hefty bites, McGonagall found herself feeling slightly queasy. The girl seemed bound and determined to eat and eat and eat, without stopping until she had truly met her limit.

 

McGonagall looked around to the students at the tables. None of them seemed to be paying attention, she thought at first, but then she saw a crowd of young Hufflepuffs that were gazing at Hermione and Severus with fascination in their eyes.

 

Oh dear lord, McGonagall thought. She hoped they weren’t about to embark on their own gluttonous journey in imitation of the staffmembers.

 

Hermione and Severus were, to McGonagall’s surprise, the first staffmembers to leave the hall. Their bloated tummies protuding before them, they made their excuses independently of one another - Severus left first, easing himself up out of his expanded chair with a groan, then disappearing outside the doors to the Great Hall - and then Hermione following, disappearing after him.

 

Both of them had, McGonagall observed, stuffed their pockets full of pastries and candy before leaving.

 

She sighed, and trudged back up to her office, feeling a bit full herself. She, however, had certainly not overdone it to the same degree that the couple had.

 

She went to her desk, and waved her hand over it. Unlike Albus, who had kept most of his organizational plots in his head, Minerva used a chalkboardlike configuration for her lists. It meant she was much more efficient, actually, than Albus ever was, since he actually tended to forget things that he didn’t think were important. But part of being the headmistress, in her opinion, was tending to all things, including those she felt were unimportant.

 

There was something on her chalkboard that she’d been worried about fulfilling. Now she could cross it off her list.

 

Albus’ portrait in the headmistress’ office woke up from its slumber as she entered.

 

“Minerva,” said Albus with a happy tone, “good to see you. And how are you this fine Halloween evening?”

 

“Terrible,” confessed Minerva, and went straight to her chalkboard. “We don’t need to worry about THIS anymore, Albus.”

 

She fiercely crossed off the list - “Help Severus Find A New Direction For His Life.”

Albus just chuckled. “And how did you manage to do this, Minerva?”

 

McGonagall rolled her eyes. “You don’t even want to know, Albus. You don’t even want to know.”

 

He just grinned at her with his twinkling eyes, and she rolled her own at him.

 

“You already know, don’t you,” she said with exasperation, settling herself down in her office.

 

Albus didn’t say anything for a moment, then said with a smile, “I know Horatio Galler, who lives in Hermione Granger’s room. Kind old gentleman. Likes to keep me informed of the latest news as it arises. Particularly related to the proclivities of one potions master researcher.”

 

Minerva threw a stale lemon drop at Albus’ portrait in response.

 

Chapter Text

Hermione and Severus had done their best to be good for the date of Halloween. They'd woken up late, luxuriating in the rare holiday.

 

"You will not be working today," Severus said sternly as Hermione rose and started reaching for the parchment and quill she had left on the bedside table. "No. I beg of you. Leave off for just the day." He grabbed her arm with a fierce grin and peppered her hand with kisses.

 

Hermione laughed. Sometimes Severus could be so immensely charming.

 

"Fine," she conceded, "but we already decided we weren't going to eat much today until the feast. How should we occupy our time?"

 

There was a glint in his eyes. "Let's go out," he said, "the day promises to be a beautiful one."

 

Hermione smiled, and nodded.

 

"Also," he said pointedly, "the exercise will do you good, young lady. You've been getting a bit round lately."

 

He pressed his fingers into her stomach, his false scorn barely hiding his glee and lust.

 

"Hmph," Hermione said, her fingers running through her abundant messy curls, "Language like that, Severus, and you won't be getting any satisfaction for that egregious cock of yours until after the feast."

 

He moaned, his hand drifting down to address his morning wood affectionately. "No, you wouldn't, witch," he bit out, the sadistic pleasure of being denied emerging in his tone.

 

"Oh certainly I would," she said, running her fingers over his thick thighs. "Just watch me deny you the satisfaction of fucking me this morning, Severus Snape."

 

His moan was low and guttural, but she could hear he had already given up trying to persuade her. She'd been finding that of the two of them, Severus was the one who took the most pleasure out of pain. She wouldn't have pinned him for a sadist in a thousand years, but the way he squirmed at the very mention of not getting what he wanted was undeniable.

 

She ran her hands over him, making him groan with the pain of unfulfilled desire.

 

"Please," he begged, with a final ounce of optimism that was entirely without effort.

 

"No," she said. And with that she bounced up and pranced to the shower.

 

Severus smirked at her ruefully as she went.

.......

She returned to find him on the phone, one hand clasping his limp cock aimlessly.

 

"Certainly, my love," he mumbled to his phone. "it isn't any trouble. No, none at all."

 

"Isn't it late in the day over there for her to be calling?" Hermione asked, and playfully squeezed his belly.

 

"Teasing vixen," he said, pressing the receiver against his cheek to mute his voice and turning his head towards Hermione. "Yes. It's Erika. She's had a bit of trouble with Jean-Raoul, and needs an ear."

 

"Take your time," Hermione said, wiping her body off. "But no ménage a un for you." She removed his hand from where it fondled his dick.

 

"Curses," he said, the pleasure palpable in his voice, "you deny me the simplest gratification of sexing you, and then you forbid me sex myself. And all this for what end?"

 

"Simply because it pleases me," said Hermione comfortably, and she bent down to dry her toes, waving her ample rump in Severus' face.

 

He groaned, and went back to his phone call. "Sorry, my dear. Someone is *very* distracting on my end."

 

Hermione grinned, taking credit with sheer delight.

 

"So what did you say to that?" He went on, turning back to the conversation seriously. Hermione acknowledged the change by going to her desk and cracking open a book. Reading wasn't work, after all. Even if it was information she could tie into her upcoming article…

 

"Mhm. I see."

 

Severus was actually a very good phone listener, Hermione realized as she listened to him. He would provide comments as needed, but mostly focused on empathic responses and thoughtful questions.

 

Maybe she didn't see it when she was interacting with him, and maybe it came out more strongly when interacting with his other girlfriend. But either way, it gave her a little fluttery feeling in her empty belly. Or maybe that was just her desire for breakfast calling. Yes, she decided her stomach growled loudly, making Severus turn his head and arch an eyebrow at her, it was her hunger.

 

She looked at Severus, who was looking increasingly grumpy, and she decided to go ahead and get them a spot of something. She clapped for Minty and ordered coffee, juice, and oatmeal for them both, then commenced her reading.

 

Severus remained on the phone with Erika until the food arrived, at which point he wished her a good morning and closed his phone.

 

"Oatmeal?" He play-raged, sitting himself down with a pout. "How is a man supposed to start his day on this muck?"

 

"McGonagall does it," hermione said with a smirk. "Good for the digestion, as she says."

 

He rolled his eyes, but dug in hungrily anyhow, serving himself in large spoonfuls.

 

He ate it all, and looked up for more. But Hermione was already sending away the rest of the tureen, and his face fell considerably.

 

"Did master not like it?" Minty was saying, surveying Severus' scowl warily.

 

"Oh no," Hermione said comfortably, "he did enjoy it. But you and the elves are not to serve him anything more until the feast tonight. Is that understood?"

 

The elf was worried at the way that Severus glowered, but as Hermione patted Minty’s shoulder gently, the elf scurried away, glancing back only once as she scampered.

 

“What,” Severus demanded, sitting with his wide legs astride, “is the meaning of this? You’re restricting me?”

 

“It’s just a bit of a diet, honey,” Hermione said smoothly, “and you shouldn’t be surprised. If you think I need exercise, oh darling, you need to take a look at yourself in the mirror.”

 

Severus growled, and looked down at himself. “What?” he said, huffily. “It’s not as though I’m *fat.*”

 

Hermione did her best to restrain her laughter. “Oh no, honey, I never meant to say that. Of course, of course you’re not fat. But you’d best be careful, or one day you’re going to wake up and be as big as a hippogriff!”

 

“Can’t a man can’t have a bit of meat on his bones without the entire country going up in arms about it?” he demanded, leaning back in his chair and looking quite smug and self-satisfied.

 

“A *bit* of meat?” she chortled, and stood up to embrace him. Her lips locked onto his, and her hand massaged his soft, unstuffed gut. “I think you’ve got a little more than a *bit* here, darling.”

 

He kissed her deeply in return, and relaxed into her massage. His stomach rumbled, and she massaged deeper, trying to help aid his digestion.

 

“You have got *quite* the gut, dear,” Hermione said, her fingers sinking pleasurably into his broad white flesh.

 

He grunted and withdrew from kissing her, and gazed down the mountainous expanse of his body. “I can still see my feet. Mostly.”

 

He bent over, and Hermione withdrew her hand.  His entire belly squished into itself like a great ball of dough being kneaded. It was of course quite big, and quite difficult to navigate, but by spreading his legs to accommodate it, he was able to bend down well enough to peer at his feet curiously. “Well, erm, now I can.”

 

“Oh, love,” Hermione clucked, and patted his shoulder sympathetically as he tried to heave himself back upright. “You’re getting too big, too big indeed, tut tut. Can you even tie your shoes on your own?”

 

“Yes,” he said, sitting back and rubbing where his belt had pinched his supple, soft skin. “But only with magic.”  

 

“Oh, darling,” Hermione said, with mock pity. “You’re too fat to tie your shoes yourself? For shame, for shame. You’d better keep to your diet, sweetheart, or you’re going to become as big as Slughorn.”

 

“How long will that take, do you suppose?” Severus asked, his smile sickly sweet with pleasure.

 

“It depends on how much he weighs,” Hermione responded cheerfully. “And lo, I actually happen to know.”

 

She stroked her own belly comfortingly as she strode to the old desk in the corner of her room. “There’s a bit of blotting paper here,” she announced, bringing back a sheet that was covered in bits of ink and scribbles, “where Slughorn was tracking his weight. This was his desk and room until he left last spring, if you recall.”

 

“No,” Severus said disbelievingly, his eyes wide as he dropped the act. “And you haven’t mentioned it to me before?”

 

“I found it earlier this year,” Hermione said, “and quite forgot about it.”

 

She unfolded the paper carefully and ran a pencil over the paper, shading in the indents from where Slughorn’s old writing was.

 

“It does appear,” Hermione said with a smirk, “that he was trying to lose weight, poor old soul. And failing miserably. Look here, he was plateauing at around 485 all through May.”

 

Severus’ face grew grim, and all of his good humor evaporated. “What am I?” he asked, his voice soft and worried. “Cast that charm,” he elaborated at her brief confusion.

 

She did, and her modified plump witch, Cozy, emerged from her wand. Cozy looked Severus from head to foot, and patted his belly warmly.

 

“You’ve been coming along nicely,” she cooed, and took out her measuring tape. “A plump 60 inches around your belly. What effort! And…” - she waved her wand - “A hefty three hundred and forty three pounds. Good gracious, you’ve been hungry.” She winked. “What a nice plump hunk of man for you, dearie,” she said, addressing Hermione. “

 

Severus did some mental calculations. “That’s about seventeen pounds in two weeks,” he said, looking stunned. “I…”

 

He looked at Hermione, frantic worry in his eyes, as if he’d been caught sneaking biscuits from the biscuit jar.

 

She smiled beatifically at him. “And how on earth is that a surprise?” she said with a radiant grin. “You’ve been eating practically nonstop, my love.”

 

“Ugh,” he groaned, not denying the obvious, and he looked down at himself, a little bit sad, and quite uncomfortable.

 

Hermione waved Cozy over to assess her, and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

 

“Ten pounds in less than seven days - good job dearheart,” Cozy announced happily, Beaming, she looked over at Severus again, who was experimentally cradling his empty belly, assessing its weight.

 

“It’s not as if it all goes there, ducky,” Cozy said with a smirk. She ran her wand along Severus’ jaw and arms, and then down to his buttocks. “You also are quite skilled at putting on weight in these areas, here.”

 

Severus hands went immediately to touch his squishy behind, and indeed he seemed satisfied with what he found there - for even he couldn’t help himself from squeezing at his joyfully round cheeks, which indeed, Hermione now saw, had taken the bulk of his new pounds.

 

Hermione crept up behind him and, without further adieu, began to frot against him, her clit begging for stimulation against his soft behind.

 

“Ai,” exclaimed Severus, spinning around and catching her against his tummy before he managed to swing her into a close, squishy embrace. “None of that, now, you said we’d have to wait until after dinner.”

 

“But now I regret that,” Hermione pouted, “now that I know how fat you’ve gotten.”

 

“Ah,” Severus said with an arched eyebrow, “but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Or something like that.”

 

Hermione’s hand dove underneath his belly, and hefted it in her fingers. It was so soft and squishy, and she couldn’t wait to get her clit against it.

 

“Fine,” she said, and turned away from him after a quick kiss to the cheek. “You know why it’s a good thing that we’re eating light this morning, right?”

 

Severus rolled his eyes. “It tricks the body into thinking it’s starving, and then permits us to gorge ourselves even further at the feast.”

 

Hermione grinned. “Correct.”

 

“But we already are so *good* at gorging ourselves,” Severus complained, “so bloody, bloody good.”

 

He sighed. “Erika will scarcely recognize me. I hope she realizes what she’s put me through by putting me on medication in the first place.”

 

He shook his head, and went to go put on his clothes. Hermione followed suit, and they departed for a luxurious long walk out in the moors.


Chapter Text

Autumn was proving itself to be in full swing as they trudged along through the gardens. Hermione held Severus' hand as they walked, and the sun was heavy and bright in the mid morning sky. Dry Leaves swirled around them as they walked, and shadows grew darker and longer beneath the trees and shrubs. The crunch of the leaves was almost the only sound they heard as they walked away from the castle, deeper into the woods of the forbidden forest.

 

"Squirrel," observed Hermione, noticing a flurry of fur scampering through the detritus of the forest.

Severus nodded. He was thoroughly out of breath - they had gone quite a distance, and some of it uphill - and at the next fallen tree he collapsed onto it, his massive tum heaving as he caught his wind.

 

Hermione joined him, relishing the shortness she also felt pinching at her belly, and heaved a great sigh. Her hand went, by default, to lay upon his belly, and she felt as he breathed - one, two, three - all his flesh jiggling with the effort.

 

"At this rate," Severus said, once he had recovered sufficiently, "I'm liable to be as big as Slughorn by March. If not sooner. Even if I only gain a single stone a month, and not two as has the data has demonstrated so far, I'll be as round as him come this time next year."

 

"You forget one thing," Hermione said, patting him gently on the belly, sending his jiggly mass of flesh shivering like jello. "It's not always linear, my dear. In order to get to that size, you will have to eat enough to not only gain weight, but maintain your current size. And that scales, so to speak. According to my reading."

 

He furrowed his brow and nodded, but did not respond otherwise.

 

They soon stood again, and as they continued their walk, they began talking about the conference preparations - Hermione going over her lists (which were completely memorized by now) with scrupulous attention, and Severus responding with comments and reminders.

 

The sun was bright, but did little to keep the chill of autumn away from them. The wind was brisk and cool, and They found their place slowing as Hermione snuggled deeper and deeper into Severus' warm tummy, until finally they were at a standstill.

 

"Mm," Hermione moaned, "let's change the subject, shall we?"

 

Severus didn't need another cue, his lips diving into hers with rapt attention, and he made liberal use of his tongue in his exertions despite his holdover heavy breathing from walking. It was actually way sexy, Hermione felt, that he needed her so badly that he couldn't be arsed to wait until he'd caught his breath. It felt as though he needed her more than breath itself, though she knew that was a fantasy.

 

After some minutes, he broke away from her and looked around. "I need to get off my feet," he said. "This fat arse can't hold itself up much longer."

 

Hermione giggled. He glared.

 

"This is no laughing matter," he said, his tone dark. "I'm going to fold over if I don't sit. Now."

 

She smiled and patted his arse, and grabbed hold of its tempting softness. "Okay," she agreed, and he made a beeline for a large flat rock.

 

It was cold to the touch, but they sat upon it anyways, and cuddled each other against the chill wind.

 

"You're so comfortable," Hermione mused, "it's going to be hard to persuade me to move."

 

He groaned in response. "Improbable but true," he responded, and he kissed her on the top of her head. “Why on earth do you like me?”

 

Then his stomach growled.

 

"Curses," he said, and then looked up in surprise as Hermione pressed a cookie into his palm. "What's this?" He asked, a sense of delight in his voice.

 

Hermione grinned. "Do you think I'd let my man go hungry?"

 

"It seems a bit out of character," he agreed with a snort, and he inhaled the cookie without further comment.

 

Then, like a keen-nosed dog, he looked at her expectantly.

 

Hermione feigned surprise. "What?" She asked with a smirk.

 

He glared at her with a sense of piteousness that was somehow as disconcerting as a Great Dane making puppy eyes

 

"No more," she said, hands open in innocence. "That's all I got. Just enough to get the edge off."

 

"No?" Severus said, then rolled his eyes. "You fail to understand how this works, Hermione," he said forcefully. "There's no such thing as getting the edge off my hunger. Such a small crumb as that only serves to whet my appetite and make it worse. Are you prepared to deal with the consequences?"

 

"In other words," Hermione said with a laugh, "if you give a mouse a cookie...?"

 

He didn't get it, and that shone in his face as he frowned with confusion.

 

"After your time, I suppose," she said helplessly. "Serves me right for dating a man twice as old as I am."

 

"What are you saying?" Severus said, his voice stern and his eyes glimmering with false affront. "My dear, have you deigned to such abuse as to calling me both fat, and old, in the same morning?"

 

She liked where this was going. Her subby Severus was folding away in favor of his more precocious, dommy self.

 

She liked that they both were switches. A lot.

 

"I don't mean it that way," she said, her voice growing tremulous with mock despair, "only, you can't dispute with facts, and you are so very much bigger than me, and so very much more experienced..."

 

"Experienced?" Severus scoffed, but he was grinning ear to ear. "I'll show you experienced."

 

Then with a wave of his hand, the rock became mattresslike, a soft bed of velvet, and he thrust Hermione down on it with a firm grasp. She gasped and began to breathe heavily as she felt his raging erection against her soft thigh.

 

Then she saw his soft, soft belly hanging over her, and the way it hung off him was so tantalizing and alluring. It was as if someone had inserted an enormous bowl of pudding under his skin and carelessly sewed it on so that it sagged heavily. When he moved, it followed, swinging pendulumlike in his wake, accentuating every movement he made.

 

"Oh yes," Severus said, from his crouching position over her, his manly breasts sagging and heaving with his deep stabilizing breaths, "there *will* be consequences."

 

Hermione whined with lust as his teeth came down on her earlobe, and he was nipping her and biting her, making her shriek with laughter and attraction.

 

He wanted her - desired her - and was prepared to fight to have her.

 

She had a momentary glimpse into her past, thinking of Ron and Harry and their silliness about her - and she realized that, yes, she did actually find that attractive. And hot. The possessiveness, the fierceness, the loyalty, the animalistic predatory eyes of a lover just wanting her...

 

Okay maybe that last part wasn't something Ron and Harry could manage for her. But Severus - oh he could. He could!

 

So much of their relationship, she realized, tied up into animalistic themes. Their singleminded attraction towards fatness was so much like woodland mammals preparing for hibernating all winter, embracing good days of plenty with gusto until the days of scarcity came again.

 

As Severus grabbed her by the hair and lifted her head up to kiss her all the better, she bit along his growing heavy chin and he growled, snapping her back into her role.

 

There was something primeval about their relationship, she decided, or maybe it was just the fact that they were out of doors that morning.

 

Either way, enough was enough. She reached for his tummy, which seemed tired of hanging off his bitter old bones, and massaged it, teasing him by letting her fingers wander further and further down every casual circle she made.

 

"Yes," Severus said with a hiss, and without a fuss flopped onto his back and closed his eyes against the sight of the trees and blue sky that shone through them.

 

He was so beautiful there, in his black satin waistcoat that was turning salt and pepper grey with the stretching spells it had endured, black high-collared shirt, and black wizard trousers that groused at their fruitless duties of keeping Severus' massive belly contained from the public eye. His cloak spread out behind him elegantly, and as he lay there, eyes closed expectantly, he grasped it with one fine-boned but plump hand.

 

"You're so immensely attractive," Hermione whispered, her hand delicately laying upon his upper thigh.

 

He took a deep, deep breath, as if summoning patience.

 

"You're not doing it," he observed, neutral of tone.

 

"No," Hermione said, moving her butt onto the warmth of his cloak and her legs so that she could sit cross legged.

 

"You're not going to," Severus said next, opening one eye drearily, like a woken dragon.

 

She moved herself slightly closer to him. "Delayed gratification is all the sweeter for its delay," she murmured.

 

He snorted.

 

"Don't quote Robinicouse at me," he snorted. "What a terrible potions master he was."

 

"A better philosopher than potioneer," agreed Hermione, letting her eyes wander to a falling leaf. It seemed to fall so gently on the breeze, caught by a nearly sentient wind that seemed captivated by the beautiful thing.

 

The air swirled around it, and it landed gently on her upper thigh.

 

"Don't you think the world is more sentient than we give it credit for?" Hermione mused.

 

He grunted, and his stomach growled.

 

"What do you mean?" He asked aloud.

 

Without replying at first, Hermione leaned over the edge of the stone and grabbed her bag to retrieve another biscuit for her lover.

 

Thoughtfully, she put the biscuit on the tip of his nose, touching his lip. He didn't move for a moment, didn’t even open his eyes, but she saw a glimpse of tongue experimentally creep out from between his lips. Then, with a voracious smack, he opened his mouth and entrapped the biscuit whole, leaving only crumbs.

 

"Please tell me there's more where that came from," he begged, wiping off his face with his sleeve and sitting up with a great effort of will.

 

Sitting there on the stone, she admired him - his tummy spread so beautifully across his lap it had to be considered poetry in its own right. It was too beautiful, like a flower on a cake, made with buttercream.

 

"No, I'm sorry," Hermione said, "that was in fact the last one."

 

"You minx," he said, his eyes lighting up. "I don't believe you for one second."

 

"Check my bag," she responded with glee.

 

He nodded, though looked quite suspicious, and bent down to grasp her bag. It was indeed empty of biscuits, according to what he could see. And there were no concealment charms of any sort that could be detected.

 

"You've got more, I know it," he said, laying back upon the cloak and raising his arm in a melodramatic sigh, "but I am too famished to contemplate how to find them."

 

Hermione just giggled, and grabbed him eagerly around his soft middle. Which led to more kisses. Which led to very delicious snogging. In fact, Hermione was rather surprised that they even got back to the topic they'd started at all. But as they lay there on the rock, his hand tousled her hair.

 

"So," he said, eyes bright and keen. "Universal sentience. Would you like to expound upon your theory?"

 

Hermione barely bit back herself from making the pun in "expound" more obvious than it already was, But she held her tongue, and managed to retain her dignity.

 

"It occurs to me that there's a concept in arithmancy that all elements of an equation have various configurations that are possible based on specific building blocks indiscernible to us," Hermione said, her giddy smile fading as she got more thoughtful. "And that same concept is used in muggle chemistry, as I'm sure you well know."

 

"Indeed," Severus affirmed. "Bonds, atoms, and elements."

 

"Precisely," Hermione said, picking at her thumbnail absently. "There are many ways that one atom can bond together to make particles, but there are not an unlimited number of ways to bond. Some elements bond together, others do not, and it has to do with which ones are compatible."

 

Severus nodded. His head tilted towards hers, and he gently touched his finger to her face, gazing into her eyes when she turned her head.

 

She kissed him tenderly on the nose.

 

“I’m thinking other things might be like that, too,” she murmured, and laid another kiss on his cheek. “Certain people work well with some, and not well with others. It has to do with which ones are compatible.”


He snorted, but kissed her cheek in response as well, gathering her up into his squishy lap and snuggling her close, holding her like a bundle of sticks in his arms. “Elementary, my dear Hermione.”

 

She didn’t notice the pun for a moment, and then she fake-slapped him in the face. He chortled and kissed her.

 

“So we’re talking about micro, micro parts, when we’re talking about atoms and such,” Hermione said, “but I think that elements that are a little bit larger also have similar forms of attraction. You know how in some potions, the ingredients don’t bond unless they’re facing north? Or how other ingredients simply cannot be mixed successfully, ever, even in a floating medium, like horehound and bursieweed?”

 

Severus was looking a bit more serious than he had been, and he nodded. “Yes,” he said, his fingers playing with the buttons on her silky bodice, “that does indeed make quite a bit of sense.”

 

“So for example,” Hermione went on, “this leaf, which just fell from the tree. I believe it might have some elemental attraction to me, somehow, and that’s why it landed on my lap.”

 

“Ah,” Severus said with a groan, “and now you’ve lost me.”

 

“Why,” Hermione said, “this is by far the most scientific ontology of existence I’ve ever heard of, or come up with.”

 

“Sure,” Severus said, shaking his head, “but, Hermione,” he pleaded, “does everything truly have to have some sort of explanation?” He paused, and looked at her with a deep sense of sadness. “Isn’t it enough to just… be?”

 

This was certainly a surprise to Hermione, who was certainly more likely to expect Severus Snape to demand a more rigorous explanation and then drive holes into her arguments as she presented them.

 

“Why,” she murmured, “of course? But I’m curious, Severus… why are you so copacetic about this? I’d have expected something else.”

 

“What would you expect?” Severus asked, looking genuinely puzzled.

 

“I… I don’t know,” Hermione flailed, “I feel like your beliefs about the universe would be far more complex than zen, that’s all.”

 

His face grew dark, and he dropped his arms and gazed steadily at her. “Hermione Jean Granger,” he said seriously, “I have been tortured. I have been used as a pawn in a great meaningless drama by two wizards with inflated egos who couldn’t be sure that I wasn’t disposable at a moment’s notice. I’ve been isolated by my allies, left adrift on the merest shred of doubt, and moreover have deserved every bit of abuse because I was fucked up over a girl who had told me she wasn’t interested right at the start of puberty.

 

“And what’s more,” he continued,  “I’ve killed. I’ve even participated in darker things than killing. Am I supposed to believe that there’s some elemental attraction that my soul has towards the darkness? Am I supposed to believe that every action I’ve done has been one out of a small range of choices I had based on my chemical makeup?”  He paused. “Am I supposed to believe that I can’t change, and I can’t have changed since?”

 

Hermione was about to argue - her theory completely allowed for mutability - but she wasn’t about to argue with the man who looked as close to tears as she’d ever seen him.

 

“You’re right,” she murmured, and leaned forward. “I let my fat arse get in the middle of things. I’m sorry, my dear. I didn’t think.”

 

“Think next time,” he said, his eyes sad and staring off in the distance.

 

Hermione drew herself closer to him, and his arms resumed their close embrace.

 

…………….

 

Soon they were walking again, holding hands as they crunched through the leaves and drew their cloaks more tightly around their shoulders. Severus was more quiet, less playful than before, and was clearly brooding.  

 

“For… for what it’s worth,” Hermione said, trying to break the silence, “McGonagall said of you that you’d both changed, and not changed nearly as much as I thought. She says she saw the goodness in you long before you could see it yourself.” While it was a paraphrase, she felt like her words were capturing the spirit of the headmistress’ words.

 

Severus just grunted, not looking at her, but he squeezed her hand a bit more tightly.

 

“Let’s stop again,” he said, as he nearly tripped over a cluster of toadstools, “do you have your gloves?”

 

Hermione wasn’t about to be caught twice without her gardening gloves on a casual hike with Severus, so she did indeed have them.

 

As Severus knelt down and prepared to collect the little red things, his stomach growled again. “Dammit,” he murmured, mostly out of pretense, but Hermione, successfully surprised him by wrapping herself around him and popping another biscuit in his mouth.

 

“Why, if I wasn’t already down here,” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, “I’d  get up and fuck you here on the forest floor, my vixen.”

 

“Got to keep your strength up, darling,” Hermione said with a smile, and then proceeded to get down and help him with the toadstools.

 

……….

 

They worked together quite some time, and then Hermione realized he’d completely tricked her into doing work on a day he’d claimed to leave free of work. “Severus,” she complained, and sat herself down next to him. “I’m horny. Let’s have sex, please?”

 

“Here?” he asked, looking up. His forehead was shiny from the exertions, and he readjusted himself carefully. He’d been sitting on his feet as he squatted, and he clearly was regretting that choice as he unfolded himself painfully.

 

“Or, you know, anywhere,” Hermione said with a singsong kind of voice. “I’m happy to do it anywhere that you like, my dear.”

 

He looked around, winced as he moved his leg - “Pins and needles,” he explained testily - and then motioned at a boulder that wasn’t very flat. “How about there?” he asked, “it looks so round it’s nearly spherical.”

 

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “do you think you can actually clamber on there, though?”

 

He glared at her meaningfully. “Severus Snape does *not* clamber,” he said with a haughty snarl.

 

“Oh,” Hermione said with a palm to the forehead. “Flying. Right.”

 

Severus took the moment to stand up and arch his back. “What time is it?”

 

Hermione glanced at her watch. “Two hours before the feast.”

 

“Merlin,” he said, and cracked his back. “This took longer than I thought,”

 

“Yes,” Hermione said, and looked at the boulder. Indeed, as she looked at it, she realized why he pointed it out. It was as round and spherical as a belly, she realized, and a little bit flat on the top. Then she had an idea. “Yes,” she said again, and with an effort, she floated up on top of the rock. “Wait a moment.”

 

He nodded, clearly not going anywhere until his legs had recovered from their numbness, and he sat on his plump rear, tying bags of mushrooms.

 

Hermione, for her part, ran her wand over the rock face, wishing and transfiguring it to be something that even Severus could appreciate.

 

The rock became less and less granite, and more and more fleshy. Soft, grayish, pale softness began to emerge, with the dappled colors of stretch marks, shiny and grey where they'd been massaged into submission by a lazy owner. The rock began to grow softer, more squishy, and soon to touch there was nothing making it resemble a rock at all, other than the color. The thing had become a giant belly, and Hermione felt her stress melt away as she relaxed into it.

 

“Ready when you are,” she called to Severus, who experimentally flew a few hops, then leaped up on top of the boulder. He sank into it with a sigh of bliss.

 

“Oh,” he murmured, “I… Hermione, can’t we forgo our sex ban and do it, now, right here?”

 

“I’d say yes,” Hermione said, her smile cheeky. “But then what would be the after-dinner incentive?”

 

“More sex,” he said, and tried to tackle her. Hermione ducked him playfully, allowing him to fall into the generously endowed boulder of fat.

 

“We will have to return here then, witch,” he said fiercely, “we’ll leave a trail of breadcrumbs so we remember how to find it again.”

 

“Is that a Hansel and Gretel reference?” Hermione asked with a laugh. “Oh, of course that would be the childhood Muggle fairy tale that you’d remember best.”

 

“And why shouldn’t it be?” Severus asked with a soft smile. “I don’t suppose Hansel’s side of the story was ever adequately told.”

 

“Would you like to roleplay that at some future date?” Hermione asked, crouching over Severus. It was a surreal experience, to be both straddling a jiggling mound of (real) Severus-fat as well as on top of a jiggling mound of (simulated) magical fat.

 

His eyes were hungry. “Without a doubt,” he murmured, “I’d love to now, if I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for the feast.”

 

Hermione nodded. “We can luxuriate here for a few moments, though.”

 

She settled down on top of the velvety mound of belly fat that comprised the boulder, and Severus hugged her tightly, smelling in her scent deeply. “You’re good enough to eat,” he said with a darkly carniverous voice, and Hermione just kissed him in response.

 

“You’ve been so good today,” she murmured, “just a little bit more, and you can feast to your heart’s content in the Great Hall.”

 

“Only if you do so with me,” he answered with a subtly happy voice, and Hermione kissed him fervently.


“Of course.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Halloween night was spectacular.

"I've got a great idea," Hermione said, as they tripped up the stairs to their rooms two by two. "I want to dress up."

He gave her a stern look. "Haven't you teased me enough, witch?"

"Fine," she said, and shook her head. "I wish I knew more clothing spells. But I can manage. Give me five minutes once we get in? I'll slip out of this in the dining room, so you can have the pleasure of watching me struggle out of this, and then dress in the bedroom in my costume."

"Ugh," he agreed with a sigh, "fine. The combination of a strip tease and food has allayed me. You have until I finish these pastries I brought from the Great Hall."

"That's just enough time," she said, and then realized that if left unattended with her pastries, those would likely be gone as well. "Just know I'll be taking the contents of my pockets with me when I go to change."

He sighed with a deep sense of aggravation. "Curses," he said, "and just when I had planned to take all of your pumpkin pasties and eat them whilst you were occupied."

Hermione just giggled, and generously tucked one of hers into his hand as they went. They were going slower after the first flight of stairs, and Severus' hand was sweaty with the effort, but he stuffed the confection in his mouth and chewed it as they went.

...............

The plan went off as expected. Hermione nearly had to use butter to get herself out of the too-tight dress, and Severus chortled at every mistake she made in removing it, but it was finally off, and her growing belly - complete with red stretch marks - was finally available for viewing.

"You look so delicious," he moaned, standing up from his place at the table and approaching her. "You. Me. Bedroom. Now."

"Not yet," said Hermione with a squeal, ducking from his grasp. "I'll be even more delicious in a moment, I promise."

"It'd better be good," Severus called as she ran into the bedroom as fast as her chubby legs could carry her.

Within a few moments, Hermione was ready. She hadn't really had the time, leisure, or opportunity to wear a truly fantastical costume since she was quite young, and even then she'd tended to be practical and less whimsical.

But now she had someone to be creative for, and it was exciting to try and do something new.

She called Minty and had Minty help her achieve her costume. With a mixture of agar gum, chocolate custard, and sugar, she coated herself with the sticky residue, most particularly her vaginal area. Then Minty laid out an assortment of candy from the Halloween feast, varying from chocolate frogs to candy corn to caramels to peanut butter balls to jelly worms, as well as crushed chocolate biscuits. All of this was laid out on a tarp on the floor, and Hermione laid down and rolled her fattening body in it, but not before putting her hair into a cotton-candy towel to prevent it from getting too icky.

"Oh gods," she whispered as she finally sat up, her body covered in the delicious potpourri, "I wish I could absorb all this instead if having Severus eat it all off me."

"I wish so as well, Mistress," Minty said with a smile, "for that would be wonderful magic indeed."

"Indeed," Hermione said, and stood up. She proceeded to magic her body with a stasis charm, to keep everything in place, and then she rose and walked out into the dining room.

It had taken her a little longer than she had expected, and Severus had stuffed himself with all of the pastries both of them had brought back, and he was sitting in his chair with a self-satisfied smirk while rubbing his bloated belly. He sat straighter at the sight of Hermione, and his jaw dropped.

"Well!" he exclaimed, and stood with a laborious effort, and approached her warily. "Witch," he said as he carefully touched her. "What new madness is this?"

"Don't you want to devour every inch of me?" Hermione begged, and as she was wont to expect, he nodded solemnly.

"Come," he said, and gestured to the bedroom. "Let's finish this feast with our desert."

 

........................ I may add the smut that goes here, but I might not ..................

That Saturday, the first Saturday of November, Hermione was pleased to have a new dress after a short few minutes picking out new robes. It was long, and blue, and fluttered at her ankles with a crepe chine fabric that was laced with ribbons. It had delicate embroidery across the whole thing, especially at the neckline. And moreover, she had a little room to grow to fit her burgeoning body.

Now at the tipping point between the late 190s and early 200s, she was ready to make the final push forwards to grow her body over the hump she'd struggled with for days. And then some.

Severus emerged from the dressing room at the low-end clothier's in Knockturn Alley. Jeremiah Horn, the proprietor, brushed some loose threads off the shoulders of Severus' robes.

"Well?" Severus asked with an arched eyebrow.

Hermione, ever pensive, played it up a little.

"Turn a bit," she motioned.

He did so, slowly.

"Faster," she insisted, and he obliged. The resulting flourish was distinctly perfect for him.

"Hm," Hermione said, casting her eye over the other clothing he had tried on in the past hour. Honestly, he was taking longer than she had, and that was probably because he actually was more vain than she was.

But, this set he was wearing was perfect, and also inevitably the most expensive. Hermione wasn't about to let her man overspend for something if she could help it. She had read long and hard about bargaining practices in preparation for this trip, and she'd be damned if they'd go to waste!

"I think the one without the buttons was a bit more flattering," Hermione said, a hint of disapproval in her voice. "Given how big you've gotten recently, Severus, I have to say that you've got to look at options that de-accentuate your tum. Not make it look like you're showing it off."

He growled at her, but not for the reasons poor Mr. Horn probably assumed. The shopkeeper was looking back and forth between the couple, as if to assess who was paying his bill. Then, with a shrug, he seemed to side with Hermione. "Mr. Snape," he said, a twinge of regret in his face, "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to agree with your wife on this one."

Severus' eyes were cold and clear, and he approached the man, who was in his mid thirties or so, and deeply underwhelmed.

He crossed his arms and stared deeply into the man's eyes. Mr. Horn took a step back. Severus did not intimidate him further.

"You were in my 7th year potions class the year I became an instructor at Hogwarts," Severus said, his voice dropping dangerously. "Do you remember?"

Mr. Horn's eyebrows rose by several inches. "Oh. Professor Snape," he said, recognition dawning on his face. "Of course I remember you."

He didn't bother to add the following, but they were clear to read on his face:

1. I didn't recognize you, particularly since you've got fat
2. You still scare the living daylights out of me

"That's right," Severus said, and gestured to Hermione. "And my wife, as you called her, is none other than Hermione Granger, without whom the present wizarding world would be a sorry sight indeed."

"Of course," Mr. horn said, taking off his glasses and wiping them, as if they were the cause of his egregious faux pas. They might very well have been, for that matter - they were very thick. "Pardon me, Professor. You certainly did your part in ensuring the wizarding world's safety as well."

"Indeed," Severus said, his tone as dripping with poison as Hermione ever had heard, "maybe just enough to correct half the things I did to terrorize it as well."

Mr. Horn seemed on the verge of cowering, so Hermione cast Severus a warning glance. He read the signal and nodded. "Enough," he said with a wave of his hand. "I'm just an old man on a shit research pension, shuttered away so I can dodder to my heart's content and hopefully forget my role in the ruin of this world."

Mr. Horn looked as if he'd been thrust into a corner. "Well then," he said to Severus, putting his spectacles back on, "I seem to have stepped in it quite thoroughly."

Severus didn't deign to respond, and Hermione took that cue as well. She wasn't going to trip up the man's game.

Severus then proceeded to wistfully stare into the mirror, brushing down the front with a heavy sigh.

"This is out of my price range, I think," he said, smoothing out the wrinkles that formed at his bulging tum, "I always did like buttons, however."

"If you start your diet, like you're supposed to," Hermione conceded, "you might just look fetching in it."

"But again, the expense," murmured Severus, and began to undo the buttons with a sense of futility borne of setting his dreams too high.

The shop-keeper quickly dashed into the back room to consult with the man who was previously introduced as his assistant, but was clearly something more important than that, and the men scurried back together.

"We'd like," said Mr. Horn, "to offer you a discount. Given our suppliers gave us a cut rate on this particular shipment-"

"-Since it was on clearance," cut in the man introduced as Mr. Grace,

"We'd like to offer this to you at ten percent off," finished Mr. Horn. "Is that acceptable to you, Professor Snape?"

Severus made a show of looking into his wallet, and he looked dismally at his scarce galleons. "I wish it were," he said helplessly, "but as you see, I've only got ten galleons here."

The men exchanged a telepathic glance between each other.

"We can do that," said Mr. Grace, and Mr. Horn added, "Yes, certainly we can. That's generous of you, Professor Snape. Most generous indeed. And considering everything you've done for our world, well, it seems only proper that you get some benefit of it."

Severus made a show of denying the discount, but they were insistent, and soon Severus was ushered out of the shop with a collection of new items along with the robes he liked so much, and once they got out the door and Mr. Grace and Mr. Horn had closed the door with a bang, Severus grinned outright at Hermione.

"That was a good showing," he said comfortably, "but I do hope you weren't serious about your diet."

"Oh," Hermione said with a grin of her own, "I was quite serious."

His face quirked, as if he could guess where she was going.

"I'm fully on board with you having a diet where you try as fast as you can to wear these robes out, and then going back shamefacedly to get a bigger size by May of this coming year," she said with a laugh, and he snorted.

"You're so predictable," he said fondly, and as she glanced at him with teasing admonishment, he amended, "in the best sense of the word."

"Is there a best sense of the word?" she asked, and she danced onward through the alley in front of him.
.............

They stopped at a not-often-frequented luncheon joint serving Jamaican food. They were notably the only non-persons of color in the place, which was sparsely attended even at the lunch hour.

"It's disgraceful, this artificial segregation," Hermione said as they were served curried goat with beans, and rice, with fried plantains on the side. "I had no idea Knockturn Alley existed when McGonagall first took me through Diagon Alley. And come to think of it, I don't think I saw any non-white shopkeepers there when I went the first time. I remember thinking it was so tremendously strange."

"It's truly a novelty for Lee Jordan to be working at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, that's for sure," Snape agreed, and scraped out the remaining rice from the family-sized serving bowl they'd been given.

"Well, it's not right," Hermione said, a fire burning in the pit of her stomach - unrelated to her happy gustatory experiences with digesting the heavy, fatty food. "The Wizarding World simply doesn't have language to talk about race. From when I first entered Hogwarts, I don't think I have ever heard anyone talk about persons of color at all."

"Whereas the Muggles have actually got language for it, I suppose," Severus remarked. He popped more fried plantains in his mouth. "But that doesn't mean they're better about it."

"No," Hermione agreed, "no, this is more subtle, but in some ways less important in the wizarding world. We're still getting over the idea that people born of Muggles are significantly worse than people born of 'pure' heritage." She groaned. "Oh. Wait. Never mind. While not all Muggleborns are persons of color, persons of color in the wizarding world are ONLY Muggleborn, or born of Muggleborns."

"Excellent observation," Severus said with a sigh. "And where do most of them end up, come to think of it?"

"Gryffindor," Hermione said, and her heart nearly broke at the realization. "At least we are welcoming there."

Severus shrugged. "Perhaps? I can't tell for sure. Your class was among the most diverse that we'd ever had previously, that's for certain."

Hermione nodded. "As time goes on, I imagine it will continue to go in the right direction. Though there's so much in the way of subliminal racism..."

She looked around them. "Like Fortescue's has a queue around the street at this time of day. Where are the people here, or at that Lassi shop across the way?"

Severus shook his head. "Do I even need to say? This is Knockturn Alley. Only poor people, and scheming people, ever enter."

 

The point was well taken, and they finished eating in relative quiet.
..........

They returned to Severus' rooms, and with a few sweeping gestures, he put away his new clothes. "Thank you for... persuading me," he said, sounding a trifle grateful. "I needed it."

"You're certainly quite welcome," Hermione said, wrapping herself around him and poking his belly fondly. "I will miss seeing how your clothes strain to contain you, for a while, but it's a sacrifice made with a long-term investment in mind."

"Ah," Severus said, reclining on the sofa and popping a number of biscuits into his mouth, "And what is that investment?"

"The process of watching you grow out of your new clothes," Hermione said, and found herself squirming with pleasure and delight. "What a treat that will be."

"Hm. A challenge," he said, meeting her eyes and quirking a smile. "You know I always am up for a challenge."

"Yes," Hermione said, and she seated herself at the dining table. They had an unfinished chess game there, floating over the remnants of their morning's breakfast - a few croissants and other pastries remained, as well as some Halloween candy the elves had brought them, leftovers from the feast. "I know you are."

She motioned him over to the table, and he obliged. As they settled down to playing the game, and continuing to snack, Severus slipped his feet out of his shoes, and Hermione did the same, and their feet nestled together under the table as they focused.

Chapter Text


Hermione had truly gotten into the swing of things, and found herself getting hungry even at odd intervals when she previously would never be hungry.

Severus, ever in his quest for scientific precision, had her wear a button that correlated to a spreadsheet. Whenever she felt the gnaw of hunger within her, she was supposed to tap the button, and it would tally the number of times she tapped it per day.

It was fascinating for her to see the results. Her hunger was actually increasing, and proportionately so was her calorie intake. (She would check in with Cozy daily at this point, and add her statistics to the spreadsheet.)

She was happy to discover that she had, practically overnight, catapulted from her waffling between 199 and 200 to finally a firm 205, and she luxuriated in the feeling. Now that she had worked out the plateau, she felt certain that her gain there forward would be steady, and augmenting with every pound. On her five-foot frame, her plumpness was becoming more and more undeniable, and she was sure she was reaching the threshold of social unacceptability. Particularly given how the dresses she wore were tight on her body.

"It's relatively easy to put on weight, I've found, the heavier you are," Severus said, staring at his figure with bewilderment the second crisp Saturday morning in November. They were walking around the lake, since Severus insisted they get regular exercise daily. Hermione, with her indoorsy attitude and bookish hobbies, knew the virtues of exercise, but rarely would take part in it of her own volition, despite her good sense kicking her.

But, Severus had once been an inveterate exerciser, with his running around the castle all night caused by his mania, and truly loved it, despite how he'd fallen off the wagon for so long. So he'd been getting them both up early to go on walks every day for half an hour before breakfast. Longer on weekends, he promised.

"I suppose it just has to do with ratios," Hermione said, sitting at the base of a charred tree where she'd paused to rest, "proportionately it's similar to a snowball - when you start off, the surface area is small, but then as you increase that surface area, the increase multiplies the ability to congeal fat to the body. Or something."

"I wouldn't say that," Severus said, taking her arm and walking with her along the perimeter of the lake. "Instead, I'd hazard the guess that it is something more to do with units of measurement - the unit of measurement, the pound, does not adapt to the body's natural proportional changes. As in, from a proportional perspective, one pound is to a 100-pound person the same as 4 pounds is to a 400 pound person. In other words, for a 400 pound person, 1 pound has a disproportionate amount of impact, I imagine, than it has to a smaller person, and vice versa. And with every additional pound added to one's frame, the value of the pound deflates."

"Are you all right?" Hermione interjected, "you sound a bit off, my dear."

He laughed with a hint of manicness, and shook his head. "No, I'm not. I just used economics to explain a question of biology. Fancy that. And if you would examine that for a moment-"

"-I do think you're right," Hermione said, and stopped them gently. "But I still sense there's something amiss with you. You're rambling."

He tried to pull them onwards, but she held tightly to him, and he took a deep breath as he realized she was anchoring him to the spot. "You're sensing that I'm...uncomfortable," he said, taking a deep breath. His round cheeks were flushed with the vigorous exertions of the day, and his face was very pale and white. "I suppose it's worth telling you why."

He inclined his head gravely towards the charred tree she'd been sitting under.

"That tree," he said simply, "is the cursed one."

Hermione's eyebrows knitted together.

"What do you mean by that?"

He looked at her with a small amount of quizzicalness. "You mean to say... you never saw my memories?"

"No," she said, "at least not ones involving trees."

"Oh," he said, and sighed. "Then let me illuminate you. But first, let us leave this area."

Hermione nodded, and followed him, arm in arm.

They settled down at a bank on the diametric opposite of the tree, and they sat on the dead grass, which waved damply in the morning breeze.

"I'll keep this short," he said, as Hermione's hand squeezed itself into the place between his right breast and his belly, to keep her warm. "I have no desire to go over it with more detail than is absolutely necessary."

"I hear you," Hermione said, and she listened as he briefly and concisely described the travails he'd had with James Potter and the Levicorpus incident, and how it culminated with his loss of Lily's friendship. At the end of it, Severus was staring off into space, shaking ever so slightly, only noticeable because of the way his stomach jiggled.

"I'm so sorry," Hermione whispered, touching his shoulder gently. "That must have been traumatic."

"It was," Severus said darkly, "but not nearly so much as all that followed once I joined the Death Eaters."

Hermione didn't know what to say, so she just asked, "Do you want a hug?" and he nodded, wiping his eyes with the back of his sleeve.

They remained there for almost an hour, Hermione whispering sweet comforts to him while he did his best to keep from weeping.

But by the end of it, he'd come to a conclusion.

"I shouldn't be crying," he said, taking deep slow breaths in and out. "Because while I have lost so much in this world, Hermione... I have started to find some things as well."

"Perhaps so," Hermione said, kissing him gently on the cheek, "but your pain is still real and valid."

"And will probably never go away," he returned, placing his face on her warm skin, "for it is nearly as much a part of me as anything else. But I have hope," he went on, clasping her to him more tightly, "and I hope that I can have some small amount of happiness on this earth."

Hermione's mind went involuntarily back to September, when Severus had, in his fearsome way, declared that he had 'ambiguous feelings towards living.' And, in that moment, she really felt both powerful and vulnerable. Despite him not coming outright and saying it, he was saying that she had changed him, and changed how he felt about life, living, and the pursuit of happiness. There was great power and great responsibility in this knowledge, that she had indeed changed him to be something a little bit better.

"I'm so glad you feel that way," she murmured, and kissed him at the top of his head, since it was easily accessible to her lips.

Somehow this gentle motion seemed to set him off completely, and his quiet shaking and weeping emerged into outright sobbing on her shoulder. She just stroked his shoulder, secure in the knowledge that he had years of tears to cry - and so did she - but he'd been doing so much more, for so much longer, and for so much less reward. And all he wanted now was to be cared for, a little bit.

She could do that for him. She was happy to.

...

Her caregiver emotions must have been in full swing at that point, because when Severus went upstairs to take a nap - it was, he claimed, the best way to put him back in the right frame of mind - Hermione went to the library.

And who should be there, but Neville.

The poor boy was rail-thin, his cheeks haggard and empty with the illness that raged within him, and Hermione felt her heart weep to see her fellow classmate and professor in such a state.

"Neville?" she asked, and approached him tenderly.

She discovered that the young man, in reading, had fallen fully asleep on his book. He was trying to prep for his class the next day, she could see, and he wasn't very far along.

"Neville?" she asked, and gently brushed his shoulder.

He sat up with a start, knocking his quill and other sundry items onto the floor.

"Hermione?" he said, his voice cracking a little, "Erm, hello."

"Hello," she said smoothly, "may I sit with you?"

Neville's eyes looked Hermione up and down warily, as if assessing whether her newfound belly was contagious, and then muttered, unenthusiastic, "Sure."

"Jolly good," Hermione said, though wasn't sure where that unusual amount of exuberance came from. "So you're prepping for your lessons, I see?"

"Yes," Neville said, trying to break a smile, but Hermione saw his heart simply wasn't in it. He proceeded to clear his throat, and ask in a good-natured way, "Have you heard from Luna lately?"

"No," Hermione said, not sure what he was expecting. "Have you?"

"Yes," Neville said, and sighed. "She found out somehow about what was happening... with me... and has been sending me exotic herbs and such from all over the world. It's very sweet," he went on, blathering a bit, "but she doesn't understand that we won't work, we can't work, and that's all there is to it. I'm pretty sure she thinks that she and I are just figuring things out, not irrevocably broken up."

Hermione sighed. This was just like Luna.

"Not that I mind her sending me rare herbs with strange medicinal properties that might be useful to me in my illness," Neville went on sadly, "but I'm simply afraid she's putting her heart where she oughtn't, you understand?"

"Yes," Hermione said, starting to get irritated with his sappiness, despite her better conscience, "I do."

Honestly, she was more surprised that it was him who broke it off with Luna, and not the other way around. Hermione felt like Luna tended to float in and out of her worlds without a care, and Hermione fully expected that she'd be more likely to wander off and leave Neville hanging.

But maybe that's what did happen, and Neville had just called it off as a result. Hermione didn't know. She didn't exactly care to know, either. Neville was sweet, and pathetic, and used to be attractive. Now, he was a broken shell of what he was. He was in shambles, really.

Still, she should do what she could for him, no matter how misogynistic and rude he'd been to her. And his lesson plans were begging to be finished.

"How much are you eating?" she asked him gently, and he shrugged.

"Clearly not enough," he murmured, but then a sly grin came to his face. "Though you and Snape together are liable to eat the castle out of house and home, if you don't watch yourselves."

"Those sound like fighting words," Hermione said daintily, "I don't suppose you'll surrender your notes to me and let me finish them off, given how you've already sounded the horns to wage war upon me?"

Neville seemed torn between his dignity and his pragmatism, and his pragmatism won. "Thank you," he breathed, and closed his eyes. "I.. you're a good friend, 'Mione, remember that," he said, as she began to scratch out some of his woozily-written words, "Even though I was bloody terrible to you, you've come back."

"I have a problem with that," Hermione said, "historically speaking. Boys are right prats."

"Do you include Snape in that?" Neville asked, apparently not willing to let the topic go. His eyes looked over her hungrily, and she saw for the first time in a while how much Neville truly wanted her - wanted her as his lover, his confidante, his comfort, everything. And honestly, he'd do her a damn sight better than Harry or Ron, presuming he got better. Probably would do her better than Snape ever would either, she realized with some chagrin. But Snape, for all his brokenness, was a man, and Neville was scarcely that. Severus had a level of competence and skill that Neville was barely exploring on his own. Neville would definitely age well, but until then, he was no potential replacement for Severus, of that Hermione was damn sure.

"I don't," Hermione said, "but he's a prat too."

Satisfied with this, Neville slumped down in the hard wooden chair. "Thanks again, 'Mione. And," he went on, mumblingly, "If you wanted, muh muh mugh mugh muh muh."

"What?" Hermione asked, tilting her face and staring straight at him. She turned a page of the textbook as she did.

"I said," Neville said, looking up with a face as white as a sheet, "if you wanted to do what you said you wanted to do, before, we could do that."

He was loopy, but he managed to stare straight into her eyes.

And she stared straight into his.

She felt like she almost caught a glimpse of the inside of his mind - which she immediately regretted. She didn't want to look inside his mind! So she turned her head back to her work. She should talk to Severus about this. She'd never had that experience before. She imagined that was what occulmency was. But she hadn't done it on purpose...

In any case, Neville mistook her worries about her involuntary Occumlency instinct as hesitation about his offer. "I... it was stupid," he said, staring down sadly at his rickety body. "Forget I said anything."

"No," Hermione said, and reached out her finger to touch his chin. "May I... touch you?"

He nodded assent, without looking up, and she tilted his chin upwards. "You deserve love, Neville," she murmured, "and right now, it's a good idea to seek it out wherever you can. I would let Luna keep sending you things. And, for my own part, I would love to be of service to you in whatever way meets both our interests and needs."

"You're talking like a Slytherin," Neville said with a frown, "You're changing, Hermione, in more ways than one."

She paused and thought about it. "Perhaps," she said, "but does that change anything? My offer remains open."

"Yes," Neville said, growing more sure with every repetition, "Yes, I would like to experiment with you, Hermione. Even though you're all tangled up with... Professor Snape."

Hermione grinned and nodded in acknowledgement of the fact that Neville was using Severus' professional title, endowing hi with respect previously not given in the conversation. Then, with a pat on his shoulder, she set to scribbling for twenty minutes, while Neville dozed off. At first he fell asleep while leaning back. Then he fell deeper into sleep leaning forward. Then, in the final culminating era of his sleep, he had collapsed against Hermione's busy shoulder.

"Come," Hermione said, wrapping up the quills she had, "I've finished up your lesson plan for the next week. And I'll help you with your future ones too, if you want them."

"Oh, Hermione, thank Merlin, you're so wonderful," Neville gushed, blinking heavily and standing up.

"But," Hermione said, "I do have one condition. And it is a fair one, I think."

Neville's eyes got wide. "What? If you're going to suggest that me, you, and HIM have a-"

"-I'm going to stop you right there," Hermione said, raising her hand, "because I don't think I myself could stomach the thought. In comparison, this should be a tame request, I think. I simply ask that you get my additional work to help you officially sanctioned - by McGonagall."

"No," Neville said, his eyes hard and sharp.

"I don't know that you have much of a choice, Neville," Hermione said, feeling very Slytherin indeed. "You're unable to complete your lesson plans without falling asleep, Neville. This is deeply worrisome. There are protections available to prevent you from losing your job. Please," she begged, and she found her throat tightening up, That was strange - she hadn't been prepared to get so worked up on Neville's behalf.

They continued the sand-off for several inutes, until Neville finally threw in the towel. "You win," he said sheepishly, and agreed, "I will tell McGonagall. Everything."

"Good," Hermione said, "then, it's settled. I'll help you manage your courseload. But, Neville, there is one other request I would ask of you."

Neville looked a lot more game for this request than the first. "What?" he asked helpfully.

"I," Hermione said, "want to talk to Madame Pomfrey about your condition,," Hermione said, "and if she says what I suspect she will say, I'd like to help you gain back some of the weight you've lost."

Neville looked down at his skin-and-bones cadaverous frame, and reasoned, "Sure, why not?"

"That's right," Hermione said, "you are going to be all right, Neville. You are going to be all right."

He took the moment to thrust himself around her in a firm embrace, and he kissed her squarely on the cheek.

...

Chapter Text

Hermione took Neville back to his rooms once she was done with his lesson plans for the week. He was practically falling apart, but she helped him get to bed.

"Get some actual sleep," she said, tucking him in under the covers, "and when would you like me to come back?"

"Later," Neville said, relaxing into the bed groggily. He was clearly in need of sleep.

"But when?" Hermione asked, a bit crossly.

He blinked at her and yawned. "Maybe at dinner?"

Hermione pursed her lips. Clearly dinner time was an important time for her and Severus. But once, she supposed he wouldn't mind awful much. Or maybe they could all eat together.

"I can arrange that," she said.

Neville smiled beatifically. "Thank you," he murmured, and she immediately felt guilty that she'd even contemplated resisting his request. "You're lovely."

"Don't thank me yet," Hermione said with a warning tone. "I'm far from having started with you."

With that, she pressed her fingers on top of his head in a gentle pat, and left the room quietly.
...............

When she got back to Severus' room, she found him deeply asleep. Which was good, she supposed, since he'd been troubled by insomnia the past few nights.
In fact, she felt like she could do with a bit of sleep herself, so she tucked herself in with him, squirming

As soon as he seem to understand what exactly had crawled into bed with him, she felt his arms draped around her like velvet curtains, and she snuggled her butt up against his crotch.

Sleep didn't come to her, particularly since she was so wound up with thoughts about Neville.

She wondered what Snape would think once they've managed to have a conversation about it. Would he be mad? Would he be pleased for her? She didn't know. But, she was glad that Neville had gotten over his weird feelings about Snape, at least to the extent that he could. She was glad that she might be able to help him in a small way.

Her thoughts occupied her for a while. Once Severus woke up, she felt his breathing change. Instead of the long slow breaths he made when sleeping, with a hint of snoring, she felt his breath gets shorter, and much more rapid. He also pressed his face into the nape of her neck, and his nose dug into her bushy hair.

"How are you, my dear?" he asked her.

She snuggled closer into him, and her pelvis twitched with a sudden jolt of erotic tension. His belly was so soft against her buttocks, and as she felt around, she sensed his cock was starting to wake up as well.

"All right," she said, burrowing deeper under the blankets, closer to him, not looking into his eyes. "I had a talk with Neville."

Severus eased himself up into a sitting position. "What did you talk about?" he asked, his voice immediately a touch darker.

Hermione sighed. "I asked him if he wanted some help with his lesson plans, " she said, "because I saw him sleep in the library, trying desperately to finish them."

Severus looked vaguely amused, but Hermione shut that down with a glare. "That isn't funny, he is ill. Potentially terminal."

Severus had the good grace to look at least a little chagrined, but he didn't look completely abject. "So," he said, "you helped him with his lesson plans."

"Yes," she said, "and I am going to continue helping him."

"Why?" he asked, looking genuinely puzzled. "He was patently unkind to you."

"Because," Hermione said, "he is my friend. And my conscience wouldn't allow me to do anything else. He needs someone. And I am the person he needs."

Service raised an eyebrow. "He needs you?" he asked, a tinge of jealousy in his voice.

"Yes," Hermione said, "and what's more, he needs more than a lab assistant. Neville also need someone to care about him, someone to cuddle him, someone to tell him that everything is alright."

Servers looked like he had swallowed a fly. "And you think you are going to do that as well," he asked, his face becoming strained.

"Severus," Hermione said, "we've already talked about this, and you said it was alright."

"We did before," Severus said, "before he was an arse to you."

She shrugged. "It wasn't that big of a deal. He was a prat, but not spiteful or malicious."

"Oh," Severus said, his eyes rolling back, "and what's *that* supposed to mean?"

"Nothing!" Hermione snapped. "I mean what I'm saying, Severus. We've talked about this. Don't go projecting your feelings of inadequacy onto me. I'm talking only about him, not about you."

Severus looked like he was going to respond with something spiteful or malicious, but closed his mouth again as he thought better of it. After a few moments of consideration, he said, "You can do as you like. But that doesn't mean I think it's a great idea."

"What's so bad about it?" Hermione asked. "It's not like he and I are destined for some great romance that will set my relationship with you and me off in the wrong direction. Moreover," Hermione went on, "I feel like until I have experimented with another relationship, that I can't exactly call myself polyamorous."

Severus shook his head. "That is a logical fallacy," he said, "but I can understand why you might feel that way. It's an uncomfortable position to be in when it doesn't feel equilateral. I should know," he said miserably. "I spent years in a similar place with Erika."

"Yeah," Hermione said, "it feels like I am not living up to the expectations of being poly."

Severus shrugged. "I'm not entirely sure that the label fits our relationship well," he said, "given that we are behaving essentially as a monogamous couple at this time. Aside from talking with Erika," he acknowledged.

"And what you do with Erika certainly is outside the bounds of what would be permissible if we were in a monogamous relationship," Hermione said curtly, sitting up as well. "Don't forget that. If I were your monogamous girlfriend, you sure as hell wouldn't be allowed to talk with someone else like you do with her on the phone."

"Does it make you uncomfortable?" Severus asked, his eyes dark and his brow furrowed. "For me to continue my relationship with her in this way? Or my conversations with her?"

"Actually," Hermione said, "no, not at all. It seems like she has a good influence on you in many ways, and you always seem to be a little bit happier when you get off the phone with her. So I think it's good. I just don't want you to get complacent and think that we're 'essentially monogamous.' Because, we aren't."

"That is fair," Severus acknowledged, looking a bit downcast. "I... I'm sorry," he murmured, looking at the floor. "It's not fair of me to reframe our relationship in my head without talking about it. Even as I think on it now, I see how illogical I was being."

"Yeah," Hermione said solidly. "That was illogical. But that's all right," she said, wrapping her arms around him forgivingly. "I still like you, a lot."

"*Like* me?" he said, and snorted dramatically. "Yeah. You do. Merlin knows why, though."

"Okay," Hermione said, not sure how to respond to his increasingly bitter mood. So she plowed forward. "So," she went on, "this won't change that."

"I know," he said, and his voice was dark and deep.

"And just to restate," Hermione said, "at risk of sounding like a broken record, this is nothing to do with what you look like, my attraction to you, or my feelings about you. But if we are going to do this polyamory thing, it needs to be at work both ways, and I want to play around with it a little bit. See what it is like."

"I suppose," he said, though his shoulders were swamped, and he was looking down at the ground.

"You cannot guilt me about it," Hermione said. "Whether intentionally or not, you introduced me to this concept initially, by telling me how wonderful your girlfriend was, and it's worth taking some time to explore a little bit more. Even if I didn't think Neville was a good choice for me."

"I don't disagree," Severus said.

"But you're not feeling good about it," Hermione said.

"No, I'm not," Severus said, and fell silent.

"Why?" asked Hermione, holding him closer tucking her foot between his long legs.

Severus sighed. "I just have never had to deal with the feelings that I am feeling now."

His hand intertwined with her fingers, and he rested it on top of his growing belly. "I just never have had a relationship like this before," he said, his eyes far away, "and forgive me if I am loath to let you out of my sight to be in the company of another man. I've spent most of my life painfully on the wrong side of a love triangle."

Hermione sighed. "Would it be different if Neville wasn't looking for a relationship as well as physical contact?" she asked.

"Yes," he said, "though I know that is a double standard."

"Right," Hermione said, "and I also think that is wrong, and illogical."

"I know," he said, putting his hands on his face, and sighing dramatically. "I am just so new to this so many ways. Erika, for all I love her, wasn't really…"

He stopped there and took a deep breath. "She was already really very entangled with Jean-Raoul, and I was her secondary from the start. From that day, our relationship has never changed in terms of its balance - me on the simmering cauldron in back, Jean-Raoul at the forefront. She has her life with him, and activities with me, while certainly pleasant, aren't of great import in her life. And I'm comfortable with that form of poly, but not the form of poly where my main squeeze…"

He looked embarrassed. "Forgive the term, I don't know where that came from," he went on, "I've never been in the position where the person who occupies so much of my emotional and intellectual efforts is dating someone else as well."

"Well," Hermione said, "For me it's not changing in exactly the way you described. In this relationship, you have always been dating someone else. And I think it's fine. But it's certainly not fair to me to not for you to expect that I not date anyone else for the sake of your comfort. How did Erika respond to your interest in me, initially?"

"Positively," he confessed. "She actively encouraged me to pursue you."

"Ah," Hermione said, "I didn't know that."

"No," he replied, "I felt embarrassed talking to her about it." He disentangled himself from her and rearranged himself so that he was horizontal on the bed, putting his arms behind his head and readjusting to give Hermione a little more space. "I'm Erika in this situation, I suppose," he said, "so I should be encouraging of your relationship with Neville."

"It isn't an intuitive feeling, I imagine," Hermione said, drawing the covers more tightly around him and snuggling down alongside him. "Have you talked with her about this?"

"No," he admitted, and looked a bit abashed. He stared up at the ceiling and didn't make eye contact with her. "Would you like me to?"

"I think it might be a good idea," Hermione said. "She can help you get your head screwed on straight."

"I know that," he said, and sighed. His belly rose and fell with his breaths, looking like a pillowy white mountain. "This is purely trouble between the intellectual part of my brain and the emotional part," he said. "That's all."

"I hear you," Hermione said, "and I'm willing to be as helpful as I can in sorting this out."

"I know you are," he said, "you're uncommonly patient with me." He sighed, and draped his arms over her, and around her. "I don't know why you're so good to me," he whispered, a deep sigh emerging from him. "You truly are a decent person."

Hermione did her best to shrug while Severus had latched onto her. "I don't think most other people would do the same, but then again, I don't really hold most people in the highest esteem."

He chuckled a little bit at that, and patted her on the head. "You," he said carefully, "I like you."

She grinned at him. "So," she said, ready to take on the next battle. "Neville asked me to dinner tonight. Is that alright?"

Severus' briefly elevated mood sank a bit. "I suppose," he said, and looked a little sad at the prospect of being alone for a meal - the first time in a long while. "I... admit I've gotten used to you being with me while eating," he murmured. "Perhaps too much so."

Hermione didn't say anything, since she could see the wheels churning in his head. Then, he brightened up again. "It will finally give me a chance to focus on finishing the folio of abstracts for the conference," he said, "just don't take too long."

She nodded. "I won't," she said, and then she found herself giving him a wicked grin. "But you know what I need to do before I head to Neville's dinner," she asked, her voice rising with a wicked anticipation.

"And what is that?" he asked, his eyes growing wide as he seem to recognize where she was headed.

"I need to," she said carefully, "make sure that my 'main squeeze' stays plump and squeezy in the meantime."

"I suppose that could be accommodated," Severus said, his eyes brightening, and then they both got out of bed and went to the dining table in the main room.

Chapter Text

In no time, the table was covered in food - all of it scrumptious, all of it ready for consumption.

They seated themselves comfortably in their usual positions, adjacent to each other, their legs carefully twining together.

"What's on the menu today?" Severus asked aloud, lifting away covers briskly. "Mm. A whole ham, fettuccine, and green peas."

The amount of food was, compared to many of their previous dinners featured in this story, relatively modest, but Hermione knew that between the two of them they'd finish it all off, and still seek out dessert.

He served her first, then himself. The room was dark, as nightfall had come to them in the time they'd been asleep.

"Oh," Hermione groaned, after several bites of fettuccine, "this is divine."

"Simple enough," Severus said in agreement, "but highly edible."

After his first few bites, he waved his hand at the phonograph in the corner, which they'd used several times before. Some scratchy music emerged, and Hermione recognized it as being classical music. The gentle hum of an oboe caressed their ears as they commenced eating, and Hermione felt complex themes develop, and the way the notes hung in the air pierced her heart. The piano trilled, and it sounded of spring - the perfect accompaniment to their dinner.

The arpeggios began to cascade up, like the gentle song of a harp, and Hermione held her breath until the demure end of the movement.

"What is this?" she asked, "it's beautiful."

Severus had slowed his pace, being on his second plate of pasta and ham already, and his eyes gazed off into the distance. "Tchaikovsky," he said, his face satisfied, and then he looked at her. "Strikes a chord with you, does it?"

She grimaced and smiled at his pun, particularly at the way his eyebrow quirked in anticipation of her response. "I suppose," she said, "you might say that."

He nodded, still a bit pleased with himself, and he lay down his fork in preparation for a bit of a story. "My mother," he began, and his face immediately became slightly more shuttered, though he persevered through it, "was a woman of great talents, who squandered them because she desired a different life. She wanted to abandon wizardkind and become an opera singer. She settled for a music hall, and fell in love with my father, who was one of the backstage hands where she worked."

Severus shook his head. "All I have of hers, of any real import, is her record collection. That's why I have it," he said, "I suppose if I'd had any interest in pursuing my own taste in music, I'd have very different ideals - but for the moment, I'm content with these old things that I've heard a hundred times each."

Hermione nodded. She was incredibly touched at his confession, and she was captivated by the image in her head of Severus' mother. She imagined the woman in a beautiful pink gown, not unlike that Liza Doolittle wore in My Fair Lady, with a graceful train, crepe-chine flowers, and a glorious flow to it.

Then she shook the image out of her mind. "What was she like?" Hermione asked.

Severus picked up his fork, and stabbed at his food, took a few heaping bites, crouching his neck down to better evacuate the noodles into his mouth. Then, with a frown, he said, "Stern. Broken. Unfixable."

He swallowed his food, and seemed reluctant to say more, but added, "She also drank hideously, after I started at Hogwarts. It ruined her voice."

Hermione reached over and touched his hand. He laid down his fork and let her hold his hand for a moment, until he came up with something else to say. His voice was a bit rumbly as he finished, "She was a beautiful woman, and a loving mother, though all her will had been stomped out of her to do anything more than see me safely out the door."

He frowned, shook his head as if to clear it, and then commenced to finish the plate, sopping up the dregs of the creamy white sauce with a roll.

"Did she ever make any recordings of her music?" Hermione asked, hoping she wasn't digging too deep into his head.

He shot a warning glance at her - she read it as, 'I'll indulge you this last one, but for the love of Merlin please shut up after this' - and he gave a pensive half-smile. "I know she talked about it. There was an album or somesuch - she was hoping it would recharge her career, be her first debut back on the stage after having me - but my father's bitterness stalled that brief misadventure. I was eleven then," he mused, "the spring before I got my Hogwarts letter. But I don't remember anything else about it - my father couldn't bear to hear anything about it."

He sighed, and served himself a third plate automatically. "I remember hearing her practice, hours and hours each day. She would practice in the bedroom while my father was out, warming up with warm salt water. Sometimes she'd make me fetch it if she wasn't feeling well."

His face grew tighter, and his eyes seemed to dilate as he retreated into his memories. "She was so frail. And she so rarely felt well."

Hermione nodded. "So painful, to see that creative power melt away into the despair of being in a relationship with your father," she murmured, feeling helpless to ease the pain that burdened him. Somehow, however, this was the right thing to say - Severus' glazed look disappeared, and he took a deep breath, as though he was coming out from under water.

"Thank you, my dear," he said, taking her hand and clasping it warmly. His thumb gently pressed itself along the curve of her palm, tracing a path along her life line, and he sighed. "Enough," he said, settling back more comfortably and starting to embark upon his third plate with an inspired stab with the fork. "No more melancholy today."

"All right," Hermione said, though her mind was going into its own well-worn dark places. The music behind them was growing darker, with the piano growing more and more ominous.

She hadn't talked to her own parents in years, at this point. She used to have a good excuse - fighting the wizarding war. Once that was over, she had found another excuse - dealing with all the logistical details was going to take a great deal of time to resolve, including where they were going to live, what they were going to do about their shuttered dental practice, and more. She had told herself that because she was in the fledgling part of her career, she was going to be too busy to sort all this out, so since they weren't in any danger, why not let them sit for another year or so until she was stable enough to take a vacation?

But that vacation had never happened - the expectations at the Public Advocate's office had worn on her deeply, and she hadn't taken a vacation until she quit.

And now, she had to admit, this excuse as well was no longer really relevant. She was well settled in to a stable job. She had taken this job because, among other reasons, there was a built-in vacation period of the year. She had no excuse not to spring her parents from Down Under as soon as summer vacation hit.

But now she had more complications in the picture. Severus.

How would her parents react to her dating one of her former teachers? Not well.

How would her health-obsessed parents react to her ballooning up a hundred plus pounds between the time they last saw her and the present? Not well at all.

And truth be told, while she experienced some pangs of sadness whenever the topic of parents came up, overall she was fairly satisfied with the situation. Her parents had always been well-meaning busybodies when it came to her, and it was only because of the lack of phone service to Hogwarts that Hermione hadn't gotten a call every night from her mother or father asking about her homework.

She was brilliant at working hard, her parents had always said, but wasn't there something else she should be doing as well?

Hermione, in fact, had felt oppressed by her parents. Kindly and doting as they'd always been, they'd also charged her to press herself beyond what anyone else could have reasonably expected from a young girl.

Hermione hadn't yet really sat down to examine her relationship with her parents as an adult. And as she examined it there, at the dinner table, with Severus wolfing down a third, and then a fourth plate of pasta, she realized that she simply might like them not being in her life anymore.

She felt like a terrible person for feeling that way. Why did she have to not like her parents? Unlike Severus' parents, who had failed him in so many ways, her parents had always irrevocably been there for her.

"Hermione?"

Severus looked somewhat bored, but below that she could tell he was concerned.

"I'm fine," she said, taking a piece of the ham and chewing it slowly. "Just thinking about my parents."

"You haven't told me much about them," Severus said, and a hint of pain came to his face. "In fact, I was talking to Erika about Jean-Raoul, and she was complaining that so many of her conversations revolve around him - and I realize that the same might be applicable here."

"It's fine," Hermione said comfortably, "you listen when I do want to talk about myself."

"Yes," Severus said, but his look was insightful, and target at her. He reached for a fifth serving of pasta, but as his overfull belly slowed his approach to the table, he stopped, and sat back, looking at her, putting two hands on top of the shelf his belly made. He looked thoughtful. "But you don't much, do you?" he said, his voice low. "So often, my dear, what you talk about is ideas. Beautiful ideas, but ideas nonetheless." He shook his head. "It's very Ravenclaw, actually."

"Either that, or Slytherin," Hermione said pointedly.

He raised his eyebrow curiously. The music from the phonograph was a waltz now, lilting and cheerful, with occasional dark tones that gave it dimensionality and substance.

"Avoidance," she added.

He frowned thoughtfully and nodded, settling back in his chair, and he let out an involuntary groan as he readjusted.

"If I get any bigger," he said with black humor, "I'm going to have to cut out a hole in this table for me to eat at."

"Oh," Hermione said, feeling her cheeks heat up at the very mention of it. "And that hole will have to get bigger with every inch you gain around your immense belly."

He nodded, but didn't really seem in the mood to engage in their kink, taking a deep breath and relaxing into himself again.

"So, Hermione," he asked, gently, "Let's avoid the avoidance. Your parents."

Hermione sighed. She wasn't looking forward to this. "What's there to say? They're in Australia under assumed names. I have no idea what they're doing - I cut myself out of their memories as best I could. I haven't heard from them, so I assume the charms still are holding well enough."

Severus nodded. "But what are they like?" he asked, putting a pensive finger on his chin and touching it idly.

Hermione found herself thinking back about Severus and his mother. She wished her parents were so remarkable, so romantic. Her parents seemed so bland in comparison, so mundane.

"My parents are dentists," she said, "and Muggles, of course. My father's very kind, and intelligent. My mother is quite handy, and does cross-stitch as a hobby. She's very patient and tolerant, and quite bright herself, though not quite as brilliant as my father, I think."

She shrugged. "I really don't know what else to say. I had a good childhood. I never had any problems."

"You don't have to have had problems to have something to say," Severus said, "and, indeed, it is refreshing to hear about something so unique in this broken world. Pray continue."

Hermione thought back. She had rarely engaged in any time talking about her parents to either Ron or Harry, who had accepted her so much as a person in her own right that she'd rarely bothered to think of them.

"I think the trouble with them" she said finally, "is that they really struggled to see me as my own person. That is their one flaw, I think."

"That's a significant flaw," Severus said receptively.

"Yeah, I suppose," Hermione said, and then frowned. "I don't know. They both loved me deeply. But they also just..."

She sighed.

"I don't know what they would have done if I'd been born, like, developmentally disabled or whatnot. Before we knew I was a witch, they talked nonstop about how I was going to go to University. There never was any doubt I was going. No chance for me to choose something else, if I'd wanted it."

She felt a darkness emerge from inside her that had been deeply ingrained in her psyche. "I know they would have, if I'd protested, supported me in whatever I wanted to do. But I think they didn't let me choose an awful lot about what my life was going to look like. My being a witch, that completely threw them off. They had no idea what to do with me at first. But McGonagall was very skilled at talking down reluctant muggle-born parents, even mine. I'm glad she did," Hermione concluded, realizing she was taking up a great deal of the conversation at this rate, and feeling self-conscious. "I know some part of me would have died if I didn't come to Hogwarts."

"Understandably so," Severus said, though she could tell he was getting marginally uncomfortable. She could guess why.

"I suppose another reason I haven't talked all that much about me," she said quietly, "is because for a significant portion of my life, I was your student. I'm only twenty six as of last September," she went on, her voice low and, despite her efforts to sound mature, she felt her voice shaking a bit. "Seven out of my 26 years - or over a quarter of my life - and, indeed, my most formative years that I can remember - was as your student."

She saw the dismay drape over his face as she reminded him about the facts. The music in the background, on the phonograph, swelled with timpani and violins cascading up and down. They died away as suddenly as they had leaped into action.

"That doesn't matter," he said carefully, and she could see his Slytherin showing. "There's still a full 70-odd percent of your life to tell me about."

She elected not to argue with him. "Fine," she acknowledged.

"Moreover," he went on, "it's... it's not as though I don't want to hear about what your life was like as my student," he said, a little gruffly. "It's a bit awkward, of course, but that will go away with time."

He was putting a tremendous amount of effort behind the words, and Hermione was incredibly grateful for that.

"Thank you," she said with a sad smile on her lips. He was trying, she could see, and trying very well. She hoped the awkwardness about their past roles would go away. Perhaps it was too soon to expect that.

Then again, she much preferred it this way - his awkwardness, the way his face grew red (she could tell even in the candlelight), his throat-clearing, and his general reluctance to broach the subject. It was far better this way, she knew, than for him to have been lusting after her for years, only to have her in his bed with a sense of 'FINALLY!'

That would have been quite unpleasant to her. And honestly, more than a bit gross.

She wondered if there was any chance that Severus might have had feelings for her when she was a student, if he hadn't been so caught up in his obsession with Lily. She certainly had crushed on him, of course, as we saw very early in this story.

Then she decided she couldn't think on that much longer. Severus was who he was, and the lifelong obsession with Lily was a large part of who he was.

And now, she mused with some distinct happiness rustling around in her brain, he had grown out of it, for whatever reason - in more ways than one. And he was going to continue growing, alongside her.

In more ways than one.

Severus began to stir, and she could tell he was ready for dessert.

"My dear," she murmured softly, putting her napkin on the table and standing up, "I'm... I'm going to go be with Neville now. Will you be all right?"

He cast his eyes up at her, and there was abject sorrow in them. But then, with an effort, he managed to smile painfully wide, his eyes clouding over with the evidence of his false front.

"Completely," he said with a false brightness behind the word.

She felt a stab of pain in her heart to see and hear it.

"I don't think so," she said, shaking her head. "Do we need to talk more about it?"

He laughed hollowly. "No, no," he said. "I won't even miss you," he lied, "I'll have my hands full."

She looked at him sternly, clearly not believing him. "We'll talk more about this later," she said.

"No need!" he said cheerfully - oh yes, something was wrong when Severus Snape was cheerful - and she grasped his shoulder firmly. He turned his head, and their eyes met.

"Listen," she said, her tone low and quiet. "We will have dinner. And then I will come back. I will not fuck him. Definitely not. I don't even know if we'll kiss or not. He's really sick, Severus," she concluded, "And you really, really have nothing to worry about."

"Who says I'm worried?" he asked, his guard dropping just a bit, and his bottom lip curled under, where he bit it.

She shook her head. Sometimes he was incorrigible, but she wasn't sure that she wouldn't behave the same way in his position.

"I'll be back soon," she said, patting his shoulder and kissing him on the head.

She brushed off her dress and approached the front door, grasped the handle, and turned back to face him.

"In the meantime," she added, her heart palpitating with a fierceness that she could scarcely remember ever feeling before, "here's something for you to chew on other than your dessert."

He immediately looked worried, his eyes wide and calculating, staring straight at her.

The music had changed at this point, and the phonograph was playing some scratchy voices singing a cheerful operatic chorus, punctuated by a vibrant orchestra.

Hermione felt a lump in her throat rise, and she stammered out, "I love you, Severus. I know you're not hot on the love thing. You can take it or leave it. But I love you, and I'm not going anywhere. I know you have feelings about this, but can talk about it later. And that's a promise."

With that, his mouth opened, but she wasn't prepared to talk to him about it. She rushed out the door, and found herself walking briskly down the hallway, her heart pounding in her chest, but she felt immensely happier for having said it.

 


..........................

If you're curious about the piece of music Hermione and Severus started their evening listening to, it was the randomly-chosen Opus 1, Piano Concerto in B-flat minor, Opus 23. Part II from my Tchaikovsky Spotify playlist.

If you're curious, the other music I listen to while writing ranges between Philip Glass's The Hours soundtrack (for when I want to write angst), and various meme videos on youtube that are hilarious and don't require any of my attention at all, e.g. Brodyquest, or HE-MAN HEYEAYEA SONG FOR 10 HOURS or Biggie Smalls feat. Thomas the Tank Engine. Strange backdrops indeed for my writing I suppose.

Also regarding Hermione's age: so because I suck, back when I started this fic, I said that it was 5 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, placing this story at the beginning of 2004. Hermione's birthday is September 19, which means she's among the oldest in her class. This places her birthday as being 1979, given that Harry was born in 1980 and is amongst the youngest in his class, since the entry to Hogwarts is determined by your age on September 1st. So all that lines up fine and dandy. The place where I screwed up is that I was using the wrong damn calendar at the beginning of the fic - I was describing things as being Saturday the Xth of Whatevmber, and for this I was using a 2007 calendar! Alas alack! I hope you're all willing to overlook this chronological issue. Basically from here on forward, in the interest of continuity, I'm continuing to use a 2007 calendar for this fic set in 2004. I hope this isn't the Worst Thing Ever, but I don't feel like going back and editing the thing to have it make sense.

Chapter Text

Hermione felt her body pulsing as she walked down the hallway. She almost expected Severus to come to the door and demand, 'Wait!'

But he didn't. She wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not.

Soon she was back at Neville's door. She knocked, but there was no answer, just the hollowness of her knuckles on the cold wood.

She tried the handle and found it was still open. What a far cry from Severus, who still warded his door with layer upon layer of spells. There was no evidence she saw, as she went in, that Neville had anything to guard himself.

Neville himself was still sleeping in his bed, practically dead to the world as she approached him.

"Hey," she said in a low voice, and was met with his raspy breathing. She sat herself down in the comfortable chair next to the head of his bed and looked at him sadly.

His cheeks were hollowed out, and his loose flesh - from when they were round and rosy - hung limply. His nose was adorably button-shaped, but it seemed a bit over-large on his face in its current state. His chin was covered in stubble from a few days' worth of not shaving, and his cheekbones protruded unhandsomely from his face.

That wasn't even considering the rest of him. He was in bed with all his clothes on, all the blankets drawn up around him in an attempt to make sufficient insulation. The room wasn't cold; she'd left a fire in the fireplace, and it still emanated plenty of heat.

She heaved herself up - an increasingly difficult task given how much she'd added to her fat arse recently - and bent down effortfully to get a log to toss on the fire.

At the crunching of firewood, Neville stirred, and as Hermione tossed the log onto the fire and bent up straight - finding herself breathing heavily at the exertion - he opened his eyes wide. His eyes were already quite big and voluminious normally, constantly agape in a state of perpetual bewilderment and wonder, but now they seemed uncanny, even eerie.

"How are you?" Hermione asked, sitting down next to him in the chair again.

He took a deep breath and made an attempt to smile.

"Doing better, with the rest," he reported, and he made a motion to get up.

"No," Hermione said, putting out her hand and leaning forward. Neville sighed with fatigue, and instead opted to just sit up.

"You came back," he said, sounding as if he was surprised.

"Of course, silly," she said, offering him her hand. "I said I would."

"I know," he said, and shook his head. "I'm just... I'm sorry, 'Mione." He took a few deep breaths, and then leaned back against the headboard with a fainting motion.

"Are you all right?" Hermione asked, standing up and supporting his head before he banged it.

"Yes," he reported, and coughed. "Just a bit weak, is all."

"It appears so," Hermione said.

She thought back to her reading on his disease, which she'd completed back in early October.

"I have a few questions for you," she began, and she drew her purse onto her lap and began to rifle through it, until she found a notebook she'd stashed away a month ago with a red and gold cover. "When's the last time you saw a healer, or a doctor?"

Neville shrugged. "Last week I was at my healer's at Diagon Alley." He opened his eyes blearily and closed them again.

"And the last time you ate?"

He seemed puzzled. "Maybe yesterday?"

"Oh gods," Hermione said, and closed her eyes tight. Her stomach, full to the brim with the contents of her heavy dinner, began to feel oppressive to her - in not a good way. "We've got to change that immediately."

Neville nodded. "I know, it's a problem," he said softly, and he opened his eyes wider, clearly trying to get a better look at her. "I suppose you know a thing or two about how to eat, given how you and Snape were at Halloween," he said, his tone trying to mask the bitterness in his voice, but failing miserably.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Let's not talk about Snape. I'm here for you, Neville," she said, her voice growing softer. "And when's the last time you had water? Or any fluids at all?"

He didn't have a ready answer for that either, so she summoned immediately a glass from his kitchenette - when it arrived, it was soiled and gross, and she had to cast a quick scourgify on it.

"I can't believe the elves let you get away with this," Hermione said, shaking her head and filling the glass with an aguamenti. Then, realizing as he raised his shaking hand that he wasn't going to be easily able to drink it, she took a pencil from the bedside table and transformed it into a straw. "Here, drink this."

Neville nodded, not needing to be told twice, and he sucked obediently at the straw.

"All of it," she said sternly as he tried to give it back after half of it was gone.

Looking quailed, he successfully drank the whole glass, and she took it back from him.

"I guess I needed that," Neville said, and took a deep breath. "Yeah. I'm feeling a bit better already."

"I can't believe you haven't been drinking water, Neville," she scolded, sounding a bit cross. "Really, it's one of the most important things when you're receiving those vile potions for cancer treatment."

"Yeah," he replied softly, "but I have to drink those three times a day. All the rest of the time I have no stomach for anything else." He grimaced as he looked at his pocket watch, which emerged from the loose folds of his waistcoat. Hermione had never noticed him wear the watch before.

"Drat," he said, frowning at the time. "As it happens, it's that time again."

"Where are they?" Hermione asked, and stood to fetch them. Neville shook his head and waved his hand, and a potion in a crystal bottle flew into it.

"They're safe," he said with a shrug, "in the kitchen cabinet."

Hermione watched as he unstoppered the vial, and she touched his arm as he swirled it around, staring it down. He was steeling himself for the swallow.

"How about you eat first," Hermione said, "since it makes your stomach so queasy?"

"I already tried that," Neville said unhappily. "If I eat before, then take it, I end up puking my guts out in the loo."

She shook her head. "Have you tried eating, and then waiting an hour to take the medicine?"

He looked a little bewildered. "No. But then I wouldn't be on schedule."

Ah, so here was a place she already could help him. If Hermione knew anything about anything, she knew about schedules.

"Then here's what we'll do," she said succinctly. "Tonight, we'll eat now, and tonight take your potion an hour late. It won't make that much of a difference," she said as he began to argue, "I think any healer would agree with me that delaying by a short while will have a minimal impact. Have you ever forgotten to take it, and taken it late?"

"A few times," Neville acknowledged, and the shame in his face indicated that it was more than a few times indeed.

"Did you feel any ill effects from taking it late?" Hermione asked, sensing that she was getting bossy, but so what? Neville needed a bit of bossiness in his life right now.

"Not really," he admitted, and he tried to smile at her. It was weak, but it was good.

"Then let's do it," she said. "We'll get some food into you now, and then an hour later, you'll take the potion. Understood?"

"Yes, 'Mione," he said softly, and smiled. It was a little bit of a stronger smile now. She couldn't tell if it was real or just Gryffindor courage, however.

"Good," she said briskly, and clapped her hands for an elf.

Neville shook his head when nothing happened.

"I... told them not to come in here," Neville said, his face brightening up. "I thought it would please you, to see I wasn't relying on their... slave labor? Is that what you called it?"

Hermione's jaw dropped. Nearly to the point where it was unrescuable.

"You thought it would please me?" she asked, her voice breaking as she said the words.

"Yeah," Neville said, and was clearly already doubting this plan. "What, erm, did I do the wrong thing? You've always been so passionate about their rights," he went on, blathering and clearly feeling worse and worse with every word he spoke. "You did so much to advance the cause of S.P.E.W., I thought it would make you happy to see I wasn't abusing them like you always said we did."

"Oh, Neville," Hermione said, her heart breaking as she looked at his piteous face. "I don't think that way anymore."

"Really?" he asked, confused. "So you think it's all right to abuse them?"

"No!" Hermione said, her voice becoming angry. "Not at all! Just... I came to have a different kind of understanding, about the house elves," she said, feeling ashamed of herself in every regard. Her mind floated back to the situation with Lowly and Fancy, and her cheeks burned with shame.

That was once incident where she was shown just how much she had an impact on the world around her. Now, here she was, being shown that very same lesson in a completely different way.

She felt incredibly guilty, because she was sure that no matter how nice Neville was in telling the elf not to come to tend to him, the self-abuse perpetrated by the elf to their ears was incomprehensible. That, and Neville could have been truly benefiting from an extra pair of hands, someone taking care of him, for these past few months.

In fact, Hermione felt like she was personally responsible for Neville's poor self-care for the past several months - she'd indirectly contributed to it in a major way.

At least she was going to help to fix it. If it wasn't too late. She hoped it wasn't too late. Neville looked ghostly pale in the dim room.

"Now, I understand a little bit more about them," Hermione said, and took a deep breath. "But I'll explain more once I summon one." She clapped again, and called out specifically, "Minty?"

Minty dutifully showed up after a few moments of hesitation, and she glanced around the bedroom, and up at Neville with a great deal of anxiety in her eyes.

"Master Neville doesn't like elves," she said with a brief curtsy, "Does Minty have permission to serve the Mistress Hermione here?"

"Yes," Neville said, his face turning darker with worry. "I... I didn't mean that you have to be afraid to come here, Minty."

Hermione felt a flutter of gratitude that Neville was astute enough to pick up on the elf's name after Hermione's single use. That meant he wasn't quite as out of it as she feared.

"Then does Minty have permission to serve the Mistress Hermione?" asked Minty carefully, looking as if she was walking on eggshells.

"Of course," Neville said with a heavy wave of his hand, and it landed back in his lap. "Any elf can come and go as they please. It seems like it's silly to trouble you over me, but I think Hermione wants you to resume taking care of me."

Minty raised her little elf eyebrows attentively. "Certainly, Master Neville," she said with another curtsy. "Lucky will be honored to serve you again, and will swing the great front door of Hogwarts on his hands if Lucky serves Master Neville to your satisfaction."

Neville looked horrified. "That won't be necessary," he said, shaking his head with a shiver. "Please don't."

"It seems as if Master Neville forbids Lucky from punishing himself," Hermione said strictly, and gave Minty an intense look. "And that goes for you as well, Minty."

Minty bowed. "Minty hears," she said with a nod, and she asked, "What does Mistress Hermione wish from Minty tonight?"

"A bit of broth," Hermione said, "and biscuits, and porridge, and sliced tomatoes, some fizzy water, and some chips."

"Right away," Minty said, and dashed away.

Neville smiled at Hermione with a sense of other-worldliness. "I wish," he whispered, but stopped himself.

"What?" Hermione asked, turning herself to focus completely on him.

"I'm going to sound so silly," Neville said, and a blush rose on his cheeks.

"Don't worry about that," Hermione said, "go on."

He took a moment to steel himself, but there was a flicker of trust in his eyes. "I wish that you'd sit in bed with me," he said, trying to sound brave. Instead he just sounded adorable.

"Of course," Hermione said, "and more besides, if you like."

"Oh," Neville said, and his cheeks flushed an even deeper red. "Would you... hold me?"

"Yes," Hermione said, "I'm glad you asked."

With that, she heaved herself up out of the chair, and clambered onto the bed, carefully over his knobby knees, and she lay alongside him and spooned him.

He sighed with contentment, and snuggled against her, breathing deeply.

"I'm... I'm glad you're here," he murmured, sounding wistful. "I just wish it wasn't because I'm sick."

Hermione clasped him tighter. "Nonsense," she said, "It's not just because you're sick."

He was quiet for a moment, and her hands felt around the area she was holding onto. It was, predictably, his belly area - not that there was anything significant there now. She felt through the layered blankets for an idea of what they were hiding, and she found the loose skin of his formerly pronounced tummy move under her fingers. She also, with some movement, found his ribs.

"In fact," she said deftly, "I was more attracted to you when you had a little bit of something here." She patted the thin rubbery belly that he had, and he shuddered.

"You're joking," he said, and the clarity and awakeness of his voice were a testament to his shock.

"I'm not," Hermione said, taking a deep breath, pressing her own soft growing mound of belly against his spine. "Why, what do you like?"

"I... can't say, for sure," Neville said, his voice back to its dismal tones. He took a deep breath that filled his diaphragm, and exhaled. "I like you, though. Whatever you look like."

Hermione felt her heart melt. "Oh," she murmured, and pulled him closer to her. "You poor dear," she said, and pressed her forehead against the back of his neck. "We're going to get you back to normal," she said energetically. "We'll get you well again."

He turned over to face her, with effort. His breath reeked, but he didn't seem to be aware of it. She knew it was probably the potions, and the dehydration. "Thank you," he said softly, and laid his head on her plump chest. "With you, I know we will."

...................

She felt like she was leading him on. That's what she was feeling.

As she spoon-fed him porridge and sliced tomatoes - all of what she'd ordered for him was breakfast food, she realized - he chewed and swallowed obediently. She didn't over-feed him, because she knew he couldn't take much.

She also had no idea what he liked, sexually. It would be too much of a coincidence if he happened to be interested in the kink she shared with Severus. But, she thought, that was why poly was a good idea. It helped provide some diversity in peoples' lives. She could figure out other things to do with Neville. If they ever got to that point.

Though as she laid him down to sleep, after a meager cup's worth of food - she'd measured - and promised to come back tomorrow and go down with him to breakfast, she felt her conscience rumble, along with her stomach. Her plan had been to eat two dinners, and she was feeling peckish. She hadn't planned on Neville being nearly as sick as he was, and she hadn't wanted to disturb him before taking his potion with the scent of heavy food.

Severus, she saw when she returned back to his rooms, was donned in his dressing gown, and wearing his glasses, and laying on the sofa on his belly, with his computer before him.

He looked up in surprise at her.

"That was fast," he said casually, as if nothing had happened when she had left the room.

"Yeah," Hermione said, and sat down where he made room for her next to him on the couch. She was surprised to see him so receptive to her, and she wondered what on earth she was in for. "He's really not doing well. He couldn't remember the last time he drank even a glass of water."

"Poor sod," Severus said, his face latched onto hers. "I trust you took care of him as best you could."

"Absolutely," she said, and she sighed. "I really don't want him to die."

"That won't happen," he said with a shrug. "I can't remember ever anyone in the wizarding world dying of cancer."

"Really?" Hermione asked, and she realized she believed him. "Oh. Well. I suppose. Cancer is really a big Muggle thing."

"I know," he said dryly, shutting his computer with a bit of a huff. "But it isn't here."

Hermione nodded. "Are you okay?" she asked, reaching out to take off his glasses.

She couldn't help but notice his eyes were a little raw, but they shone keenly at her as she removed them and put them on the sidetable.

In response, he grabbed her around the waist and drew her on top of him, kissing her deeply, using subtle and tantalizing tonguing.

"Oh," she sighed, reciprocating fervently. She wasn't exactly sure how he was, but she could tell that there was something going on in his Slytherin head. She would just have to wait and see what would happen.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hermione went and took care of Neville for at least an hour every day for the next week. Sometimes she spent a little more time with him, depending on Snape's mood and what she thought Neville needed.

At first, Snape was excessively grumpy about it, but after a time, he seemed to get used to the idea. The more that it became a routine, the less he seemed to object.

Particularly given how asexual the arrangement was, Severus soon seemed fairly comfortable with the arrangement. In fact, Severus seemed to grow more and more easy with the arrangement in large part because she proceeded as usual with Severus in terms of her eating. She kept up a strict diet - eating an increasing number of calories on a daily basis. It soon became clear to her that anything else was unlikely to yield results.

And Severus also used his skills to enhance her growth. While Hermione wanted to continue holding off on the more excessive potions, he did provide her (when she requested it) with some of the potions they'd used before - the one that enhanced her capacity, if temporarily, tended to be her favorite.

By November 17th, Hermione had put on a hefty fourteen pounds in seven days, and she and Severus were planning to go out to Hogsmeade for the evening as a celebration of such success.

Neville had recovered substantially from his weakness of the previous week - a good amount of what he'd undergone in terms of his weakness was dehydration, they decided - and Hermione was having her second breakfast of the day with him.

Stuffing herself at the staff table, Hermione mused wickedly at the way that Neville's clothes weren't nearly as stringy and unfitting as they'd been a scarce week previously. She also saw the way his cheeks were maintaining their color a lot better, and she felt glad at the sight.

A happy thought struck her - she was largely responsible for his increasing heartiness and good health. She had watched him wane away for so many weeks, and yet with just a little bit of care, he was doing substantially better.

Hermione was pleased with the sight of this, and she poked him in the arm as he sat down.

"How are we this morning?" she asked, putting down her book and proceeding to turn a smile at him.

Neville had a tendency to blush furiously whenever she interacted with him. He did so now, profusely.

"Doing, erm, quite better, I think," he said, and he smiled back at her. She pushed the sugar bowl in his direction, and with a compliant but long-suffering sigh, he accepted it. His application of sugar on his porridge was insubstantial, and she corrected his estimate once he'd finished by taking the sugar spoon and adding another few heaping spoonfulls, along with some raisins and berries.

"Oh come now," Neville said, his face settling into a good-humored grimace, "don't tell me I've got to eat all that. Haven't I've been putting it on well recently? I ought to lay off the sweets."

"Well, if you insist," Hermione said, shrugging, "be my guest. But don't forget," she added, and she leaned closer to Neville until she was whispering in his ear, "I like my lovers like I like my meals - substantial, and fattening."

This meant Neville nearly fainted from the amount of blood that rushed to his ears. "Can't argue with that," he said, after a dry swallow, and he picked up his spoon dutifully. "Yes, 'Mione, I shall indeed attempt to do justice to this bowl of porridge. With gusto."

She laughed gently at him, and he smiled back at her. They had settled into a pattern of indulgent banter back and forth, her coddling him and badgering him to eat, and him acting reluctant. It seemed to suit their relationship - and he wasn't really reluctant, as of course they both knew. But in the public of the Great Hall, Hermione found that this pattern was more comfortable for them both than allowing him to simply indulge gluttonously. Not that he was able to indulge gluttonously, given his lack of appetite, of course... but in any case, this seemed to be working.

Hermione proceeded to push the bacon in his direction, as he was scraping the bottom of his bowl of porridge, and he groaned at her. "Not bacon," he moaned, "didn't I eat enough of that for you yesterday?"

"Three rashers is hardly *substantial,*" purred Hermione, "I fully expect you to surpass that this morning. Four, or you shall not have my company again for breakfast tomorrow."

"Really?" Neville asked, and there was worry in his voice as he dropped the play-acting.

"No, of course not," Hermione said. "Eat what you can. You already had quite a bit of porridge. That's very good for you."

"All right," Neville said, and he began to nibble at the rashers of bacon that sat in front of him.

Then Hermione felt the heavy - though near-silent - tread of a familiar step at her side. She swerved her head around to see Severus, looking immensely satisfied with himself.

"Professor Longbottom," Severus said smoothly in greeting, and then he reached over Hermione's began to serve himself from the platter of bacon. "Good morning to you. Professor Granger," he added, a strange and interesting twinkle - twinkle?! - in his eye. "Good morning to you as well."

"Good morning, Professor Snape," Hermione said, biting back a laugh. She wasn't entirely sure what he was doing down here for breakfast, of all things - she'd already eaten with him in her rooms just prior. It wasn't as if he were actually that hungry, or so she thought.

No, there was something else going on in his head.

She waited patiently until he sat down, a heaping plateful of bacon and eggs in front of him, on Neville's left, and out of Hermione's reach.

"What are you doing tonight, Longbottom?" asked Snape quietly, in a voice just loud enough that Hermione was barely able to hear.

"I... I don't know," Neville said, "aren't you and Hermione going out to Hogsmeade?"

"Yes," Severus said, "and I'd like, with Hermione's consent, to invite you to come along with us."

Neville looked genuinely terrified at the idea.

"Um. Why?" asked Neville, premeditated visions surging through his mind at such a rapid pace that Hermione didn't need legilimency skills to see them.

"Because," Severus said, settling back in his chair with an easy grace that seemed unachieveable for someone of his bulk. "I'd like to have dinner with the both of you. Get to know the man *my partner*" (he emphasized the words with such an enunciation that they seemed to drip from his mouth sensually) "seems to enjoy so much."

"I, erm, would be pleased to, sir," Neville said, and the lie was bald.

Hermione and Severus stole a glance, and Hermione could tell that Snape was actually a bit nervous about this, despite his comparative ease. "Come on, Neville," Hermione said encouragingly, "It won't be so bad. If you don't want to, you don't have to."

Neville took a glance between Hermione and Severus, looking trapped and worried. Then, summoning his bravery, he said, "I'll be there. Let's meet after classes then, shall we? Outside on the front steps?"

"Sounds fine to me," Severus said, brushing some crumbs off the front of his shirt. "Hermione?"

"Yes," agreed the witch pleasantly. Hermione's heart began to thrum with excitement, and her over-stuffed tum began to churn with anticipation and some anxiety. "I... I need to finish this chapter before class," she said, gesturing to the book she'd been reading before Neville showed up, "Severus, would you sit next to me?"

"With pleasure, my dear," Severus rumbled, and there was a smugness and satisfaction in his voice as he got up and moved his valuable arse to the chair next to her, which was better suited to his expanding form anyway. He'd been the good metamour, Hermione could see, reading between the lines. She highly suspected Erika had something to do with this invitation.

Either way, Neville continued picking away at his bacon, and Severus set about swallowing his with considerably greater fervor.

Pushing away her own plate, and replacing it with her book, Hermione extended her legs in either direction. She found Severus' foot waiting for her on one side, and Neville's ready to receive her on the other.

What a glorious course of events, to have two men so deeply interested in her that they were willing to both eat breakfast with her?

Hermione had no idea what she must have done to deserve this, but she was immensely grateful. She could only hope that she would be able to ensure she kept them both feeling loved, cared for, and admired, as much as was within her control.

And moreover, she was feeling quite proud of Severus. Probably not as proud as he was of himself, but still, what he'd done was really setting the stage for a positive experience with Neville. He was helping her with this relationship, despite his own emotional misgivings. And that, she thought, was beautiful.

She told him so, as they left the Great Hall together, arm in arm as he escorted her to the dungeons, since Neville had to head out to the greenhouses.

"Beautiful?" he asked for clarification, and if they hadn't been walking and focusing on getting her to class on time, she imagined he'd have blushed a little bit more. "That... no one's ever said that about anything I've done, before. Not that I can recall," he said faintly, and then, after a minute or so of silence, he abruptly stopped, and pulled them aside into an alcove behind a suit of armor. "No," he said, pausing and turning towards her. "No one has. I'm certain of it."

There was a darkness in his eyes, a fire of entropy, and Hermione felt the intensity of them nearly overwhelm her.

"Please," he said, and he was looking at the floor. "Please say it again."

"I think it's beautiful," Hermione said, standing up on tiptoe and kissing him on his awkward large nose. "It's a beautiful thing, what you're doing. Making things comfortable for him. It might be uncomfortable in the short run, but it will ease things over for the future. And it's beautiful that you're thinking about this situation with that kind of foresight."

She added, thoughtfully, pressing her fingers into his soft double-chin and turning his head up, to meet her eyes, "And you, are too, by the way. You are beautiful."

He seemed unsure of how to respond, and refused to look at her anymore, instead returning to stare at the ground. His chest heaved, and Hermione sensed he could use closeness.

"I love you," she said, embracing him warmly. "And I hope that someday, you can tell me that you love me, too."

There was a deep, warm silence between them as her words seemed to settle around them like a heavy mantle of warmth.

Then, the first bell rang, and the tepid trickle of students heading to class became a river, and the noise of it was invigorating.

He seemed to take it as reassuring. Leaning in towards her ear, he whispered lowly, “Hermione, how do you think I could not love you?”

Her breath was completely taken away at that moment by a deep and probing kiss. He seemed not to want to talk about it, though, and he let go of her almost as suddenly as he’d initiated. “Now go to your class,” he said with a smirk, and patted her firmly on the buttocks. “I’ll see you tonight.”

Feeling her heart light and airy, Hermione practically skipped to class.

Life was truly wonderful.

Chapter Text

They soon were in Hogsmeade. Hermione met up with Neville promptly after class. Severus let her know that he'd meet them there.

And so it was with trepidation that the two colleagues walked to Hogsmeade, hand in trembling hand.

It had just begun to snow - not very hard, just a light dusting. It melted even before it landed on the ground. Hermione did notice, though, that Neville was prone to shivering. He was wearing several layers of clothing, and what looked like two mufflers, and even still he clutched his briefcase tightly to him as though it could help insulate him better.

"Poor dear," Hermione said, and wrapped her arm around him. Her hip came closer to his, until it softly squished into his bony thigh. Her plump love-handles filled in some of the space between his rickety bones and her own, and she felt him breathing fitfully.

"Poor both of us," Neville said, trying in vain to keep his teeth from chattering. "We're both about to be skewered, 'Mione."

Despite the fact that the very thought of getting skewered by Severus Snape made a blush of desire rise on Hermione's cheeks, she maintained her dignity and brushed her bushy hair back off of her forehead with a gentle gloved hand. "You're making such a fuss," she said, and then she stopped under the first streetlight of Hogsmeade It was glowing with purple and yellow fairy lights, and the next lantern ahead of them was lit up in green and orange. The lights inside moved, and the effect was rather like looking at light reflected off of a swimming pool - it moved gently and bumblingly, illuminating the area in beautiful unearthly colors.

"Are you sure you're all right to do this?" asked Hermione seriously, staring into Neville's eyes. Granted, she was partly making an excuse to stop, since she was already quite out of breath from their brief walk uphill to Hogsmeade. "We don't have to do it. You can go back if you want to."

"No," Neville said, with gritted teeth. There was determination in his face, and she knew she wouldn't be able to dissuade him even if she didn't think it was the best thing. As it happened, she thought that doing this was, indeed, the best thing for them - but she couldn't be certain. "I'm doing it."

"Great," Hermione said, "then stop complaining about it." She pulled his hand and kept walking along the path, letting the lights dance across their faces as they went.

"It's bloody Severus Snape," moaned Neville, but there was something sporting about his complaining, Hermione now realized. It was somewhat for show, but also to cover up how terrified Neville was. "I'll complain as much as I bloody well please."

"Then you won't be getting any dessert," Hermione said stiffly, and the threat worked like a charm.

Oh yes. Whatever trouble Neville had been having with his appetite was gone now. Or at least, he had an increased interest in food. Hermione blushed with pride and the heat of desire as Neville stopped them. Abruptly, he put his hand on the back of her head, and he pressed his lips against hers.

And then, for the first time since that doomed night in the gazebo, he kissed her deeply.

Hermione felt her head spin. Neville had been mostly too ill to even think about anything other than gentle cuddling for the duration of their new relationship. This... this was new. And foretold good things.

And there was a spark of vitality in his kiss that made her nearly swoon in excitement. The way he moved his tongue around her mouth, it was unagile and unpracticed, but the way he curled his tongue under hers, the way he sucked her lower lip, the way he pressed against her so forcefully... Kissing Neville was so different than Snape. Snape was languid, sensual, and erotic in how he approached kissing her. But there was also a sense of lackadaisicalness sometimes, a sort of affected indifference. Not always, of course - there were times when he was incredibly possessive and needy, and then his kisses lost that sense of feline coldness in favor of a more feral approach.

But kissing Neville was altogether different. Perhaps the best comparison would be between a Labrador retriever and a cat. Neville's kissing of her was earnest and wholehearted. She had no doubt that he was, in that moment, wholly realizing their kiss. It wasn't nearly as sensual as kissing Snape, but then again, it didn't have to be. So much was communicated in just the way Neville's tongue curled around hers, a sense of warmth and affection that seemed impossible for Severus to emanate.

It felt good.

And it felt even better to know that her enjoyment of Neville's kiss was completely sanctioned in the context of her relationship with Severus.

Indeed, Hermione nearly felt faint at the knowledge that she had won the admiration of two very different men.

She felt, immediately, like she didn't deserve it. Her mood suddenly plummeted, and as it did, her engagement with Neville stopped. She lowered her head and, taking a deep breath, she pressed her face into Neville's shoulder.

"Why do you like me?" she murmured, feeling despondent. "I don't... I don't understand at all."

"Hermione," said Neville, clearly uncertain of what to say or do. He drew his arms carefully around her, and then pulled her tightly against him. She felt slightly uncomfortable, given how little meat there was on him, but she reciprocated, wrapping her arms around his barely convex middle. Only his many layers of clothes made him at all bearable to hug for comfort.

Then again, his grasp was strong and firm around her, and she felt his fingers kneading slightly at her love-handles. He was tentative, exploring. It certainly didn't seem like his preference, but he did seem like he was receptive to figuring out what on earth she liked about being a bigger person.

"You're the most brilliant witch or wizard I know," Neville said, and Hermione felt him rocking slightly, and she swayed along with him. "And it's an honor to be with you. How could anyone not like you?"

"Thank you," she said, and she sighed. She felt like he hadn't said what she needed to hear.

And fortunately, Neville was quick enough to read her.

"Is there something else bothering you?" he asked softly, and he pressed a kiss into her soft buttery cheek.

"I mean," Hermione said, and sighed. She buried her face thoroughly in his shoulder. His woolen robe was rough against her face, but it smelled warm and comforting. He didn't use any cologne that she could tell, but he smelled neutral and good, like cake batter or beeswax. "I wish people bothered to tell me something other than how smart I am. I'm... a bit burned out on it."

She hadn't even realized it herself until she said it. The words hung heavy in the darkness that surrounded them, interrupted only by the flaring fairy-lights that moved across the shadows.

"Well," Neville said, and he was clearly trying to scounge up something else to say. "I... well, 'Mione, you're so much more than your mind. You've... you've got such kindness in you. Such - such love. Including for those who don't normally get a lot of love from the world."

"What," Hermione snorted, taking a deep breath. "You mean houselves?"

"Yes," Neville said, "but also Snape."

She pulled away from him just enough to look into his eyes. There was just a bit of bitterness there, but mostly admiration.

"You think it's testament of me being *good,* me being with him?" Hermione asked. "I do want you to know, Neville, that the thought hasn't crossed my mind. Please don't think of my relationship with Severus as one where I'm trying to fix him, or something."

"Oh, but aren't you?" Neville asked, and there was a sadness in his eyes. "Isn't this what you're doing with me? Fixing me?"

"I... that makes it sound as if the humanity is taken out of my relationships with you both," Hermione said, though her conversation with McGonagall weighed heavily in the back of her mind. "Both of you deserve to be loved, and loved without the indignity of the assumption that I know how to fix either of you."

She looked around them, looking back from whence they'd come. The cobblestone path to the castle was broken in places after years of poor curatorship, and also the recent battle. The trees were barren and cold in the darkness, and shook in the wind.

"I don't want you to feel like I'm trying to fix you," she added, "I want to be helpful to you, but only so much as you yourself want."

"But what if I can't help but feel like I'm just a project?" Neville asked, and she saw that there were tears in his eyes. They were brimming, but hadn't come to spill down his face yet.

"You're just going to have to trust me," said Hermione, "and take what I say at face value. Otherwise..."

She pressed her hand against his chest, and she leaned in closer, looking down. "Otherwise this can't continue."

"I... is it all right if we say it's a work in progress, then?" Neville asked, after bated breath. "Taking you at face value?"

"Certainly we can," Hermione said. And she reached up and kissed Neville on his wan cheek. "Human relationships are complex and mysterious things. I don't expect you to be inhuman."

"All right," Neville said, in what sounded like a satisfied grumbly way, and he clasped his arms around her one last time. "Then let's get on to the pub, shall we?"

"Yes," Hermione said, and she looked up at him. He seemed a bit more copacetic now, and she was glad to see that the worry seemed partially erased from his face. "Let's go."

Chapter Text

Severus was waiting for them at the pub in Hogsmeade. There wasn't a sign of worry on his face, but Hermione could see the way that he stood abruptly at the arrival of Hermione and Neville, the way he pulled out Hermione's chair (carefully positioned so that he would be on one side of her and Neville would be on the other), and the way he settled down at the table... no one who didn't know him intimately would have seen anything amiss. Even so, Hermione hadn't a clue what was going on in his poor head. It was probably gnawing at itself over and over again, each moment growing more and more obsessed with the dramatic melodrama that fueled it.

She nearly rolled her eyes as she noticed how jittery he was, but that would be far from kind, much less polite, so she simply kissed him on the cheek, letting her lips linger close to his ear.

"Thank you, my love," she said in a low voice, feeling the warmth of his face. He was so physically hot. It was... interesting. Not the first time she'd noticed it, but perhaps it was more noticeable after being so close to Neville the past several minutes.

She laid her lips against his cheek again just once more, letting the slightest bit of tongue touch his skin, and she caught the faintest hint of a shiver in him.

"Please," he said with a self-assured rumble, "sit."

She took the chair that was so graciously proffered, and Neville, looking as if he were once again confronting Nagini's snake, sat next to her.

"I took the liberty of ordering firsts," Severus said, "mostly out of impatience."

He was in a bit of a mood, Hermione observed the way he drew out his s sounds was one he only used when his patience was being tried on many levels.

"Are we late?" Hermione asked, glancing around them for a clock.

"Rather," said Severus, and she saw him lean back in his chair. Her eyes trained on his, and she saw in his eyes such a fearful pain that it nearly consumed her to merely glance into it.

"I... I'm sorry," Hermione said, though still confused slightly. "I didn't realize we were that off."

She glanced at Neville, who was frowning at his pocket watch, and he hastily put it away.

Neville was a lot more transparent. Something was wrong, and Hermione suspected what it was based purely on Neville's body language.

"I think we've had an issue of miscommunication about time," Hermione said, and in the same breath, Neville said, "I think this was a bad idea."

"No," responded Severus with a low grumble. He rose with an abrupt motion. "I'll be back presently," he said, and there was no emotion visible in his eyes. He was, Hermione guessed, trying to get himself under control. But was it going to require her intervention, or was he going to be all right for the dinner?

Perhaps this had been an ill-fated plan. Perhaps she was indeed too greedy, trying to have more than one man to indulge her desires.

She watched as Severus stalked off to the lavatory, and she glanced at Neville. He was getting up.

No, she told herself, she needed to stop telling herself she didn't deserve this. She realized that this was part of the package, part of the blessing and curse that was engaging in multiple consensual relationships. It was a balancing act, and once it was calibrated, it would be exquisite. But to get to that point would require training and hard work.

This wasn't going to end if she had anything to say about it. It might not be pleasant to do a simple dinner, but they were going to do this. They'd planned it. Hermione couldn't imagine behaving like this when Erika would come to town.

Then again, the boys hadn't even exchanged a single sentence with each other and they were already falling apart. Would she really, actually, be copacetic when Erika came in from the States?

She knew she needed to not have confidence that she could be better.

But she also needed to know that they all did their best to try. If they all wanted this, they should at least give it their best effort.

"Please," Hermione said, and pressed her hand into Neville's shoulder. Not much given to fighting at this stage in his illness, even though he was doing much better, he simply settled back down into the chair and sighed. "Don't go. Not yet. We haven't even started."

"*He* left," Neville said, and there was such venom in his voice that Hermione was startled. She leaned down and looked into Neville's eyes. He was glowering at the door into which Severus had disappeared.

What an impossible situation. Hermione sighed.

"Then show him you're better than that," Hermione said desperately, and then gathered herself up and hastened to the door where Severus was.

She pressed her ear against the door and listened, half expecting a rampage of glass and other things breaking, but instead she heard nothing but silence. There were no sounds. There was nothing indicating that Severus was even still in there. She knocked, and heard no answer. She knew he probably hadn't apparated, but she was beginning to consider the possibility more seriously when he opened the door and she practically fell into his arms.

"Sorry," she murmured, grasping his forearm for support. "Are you all right?"

"Perfectly," Severus responded, and he indeed seemed like he had a renewed sense of self control. "I'm sorry for my absence, but was it so long that you had to seek me out?"

"I just..." Hermione began, and sighed. "I'm concerned you're repressing everything."

"Repressing what?" he asked, and there was a coldness and ambivalence in his voice that made her heart grow still with sadness. Whatever he'd been feeling, it was far out of her reach for the moment. At least their dinner was safe, though she knew it'd be a bit rushed on all their parts - Severus because he was holding himself barely together, Neville because he hated Snape so much, and Hermione because she just wanted to shout at them and bring them to their senses.

But she truly did understand that would not work very well, so she just grasped Severus' hand warmly and escorted him to the table.

Neville was picking slightly at the appetizer that had landed on the table - a steamed artichoke, dismantled and arrayed like a flower around a beautiful creamy sauce. He'd taken one leaf and was chewing the tip thoughtfully. He hastily put it down once he saw the couple returning to the table.

"We, erm, are staying, I take it?" Neville asked, hesitantly reaching for another artichoke leaf.

"Of course," Hermione said with forced cheerfulness. This was going to be difficult, but she realized they'd gotten past the critical point of failure. They were embarking on this difficult adventure for sure now. "Now please, be a dear, and pass me some of that."

Neville did her that small favor, and Severus just grunted his approval when Hermione pushed the plate towards his direction.

The three of them scanned their menus awkwardly, not saying anything to each other at all.

Then, once the waitstaff took their orders, they sat in silence until Neville, trying to adjust in his seat, accidentally passed gas.

His entire face flushed red, and he looked between Hermione and Severus, trying to decide who was going to shame him the most, Hermione read. She wondered every day why Neville hadn't been sorted into Hufflepuff, but perhaps his Gryffindor judgmental streak was something he kept well concealed most of the time.

To Hermione's immense relief, Severus' initial look of confusion was soon consumed by a hearty snicker.

"I'm sorry, professor," murmured Neville, looking as helpless as a trapped mouse. "My potions have had some unintended side effects that we've had to balance with laxatives, and while it's certainly standard for my condition, there's only so much I can control-"

He was cut off as Severus began convulsively laughing. Perhaps the volcanic emotions he'd been experiencing needed some sort of release and this was the easiest one. In any case, Severus was unable to get a grip of himself for several minutes as he laughed uproariously.

It was unnerving. Hermione and Neville were similarly sitting in shock and bewilderment as Severus laughed himself out. Then, once he took a deep breath and stabilized himself, he said, "My dear Professor Longbottom, no need to apologize. I'm fully aware of the side effects of your condition's treatment regimen."

This proceeded to make him start laughing all over again, though, and Hermione and Neville kept on feeling awkward and unsure of how to proceed. Until finally, Hermione shook her head, grasped Severus' hand, and said, "Are you all right?"

A weird grin on his face, Severus took a few short quick breaths, and his face settled into its usual more neutral repose. "Of course. Of course."

But that somehow signaled the turning point in their dinner that night. Severus, at that moment, managed to escape the foul mood he'd been in, and Hermione finally could relax. Neville didn't manage to really unwind much - he sat nearly ramrod straight the entire rest of dinner, and barely ate, as if beseeching his bowels to keep their symphonies for after he'd escaped Snape's presence.

Still, at the end of it, he was smiling half-heartedly at Hermione's poor jokes about potions and herbology, and Severus had promised that Hermione could take Neville to the spot where he'd taken her to collect the yarrow and hemlock earlier in the fall.

Dinner itself was lackluster, unfortunately. Pub food wasn't particularly glamorous, and after so many months of nothing but the best of house-elf fare, Hermione found herself disappointed by the repast from the restaurant.

But that night, she walked back to the castle with two men on either of her arms. One of them seemed to be in a slightly manic mood, and the other seemed to be quite depressed, but somehow these two long-term enemies had managed to make peace enough to be civil to each other during a joint dinner.

Hermione marveled at this all the way home.

"How was this?" she asked as they approached the castle doors. She felt Severus clasp her tighter, and Neville let go gently to go ahead and get the door.

"I- are you asking me?" Neville asked, as she grabbed his arm that he tried to weave out of her own.

"Yes, of course," Hermione said, and she pulled Neville closer to her. She felt Neville sweat in the crook of his arm, and Severus' hot breath on her skin as he leaned towards her, possessively breathing in the scent of her neck.

"I... erm, it was all right," Neville said, and there was a look of relief in his eyes. "It could have been much worse."

Severus didn't add anything, merely snorting.

Hermione draped one arm around Severus' wide waist and held him close to her. "I'm glad you came," she said, "it is... good, I think."

"I agree," Severus said, to Hermione's immense surprise. She realized his mood seemed to have settle down. It seemed like he wasn't really on alert to the same degree - instead he seemed to be fairly content. While Neville had been abstinent with his food, Severus hadn't in the least, and he'd stuffed himself thoroughly.

"Erm," Neville said, and gently disentangled himself from Hermione again, "Thanks."

He proceeded to quietly head to the doors of the castle and open them. "After you," he said, and Hermione and Severus walked through the doors. Once they were over the threshold, he amended, "Actually, I think I'll stay out a while."

His hand was in his pocket where Hermione had seen him fidgeting with a box of cigarettes.

"All right," Hermione said, "good night."

"Good night," answered Neville, and turned away.

"What?" Severus growled, "No goodnight kiss? Are you mad?"

Hermione found herself chuckling at the suggestion. Neville himself simply looked pale. The moonlight shone behind him, making him almost a mere silhouette, and he looked pallid and nervous.

But Severus had let go of Hermione, unwinding himself from her with evident reluctance. "Don't you think this woman deserves it?" he asked, and with a grand gesture, he pressed his own lips on her soft hand in a gentlemanly fashion.

Hermione blushed despite herself.

Neville looked as scared as if this were a trap. But after glancing between Severus and Hermione multiple times, he finally took a deep breath and, swiftly, he advanced upon Hermione, drew her into his arms, and pressed into her lips.

It wasn't as good a kiss as from earlier, and indeed it was quite short, but she could tell how stressed he was.

"Thank you for a nice evening," said Neville, letting Hermione go and addressing the two of them. "Good night."

He then proceeded to go out the doors and close them gently behind.

Severus looked simply amused at the proceedings, as far as she could tell in the near-darkness of the entryway.

"You're so strange," Hermione said, shaking her head, "So full of surprises."

"So it would seem," Severus said, sounding as if he was engaging in a private joke.

They went to bed that night together, Hermione drawing upon his warmth, feeling delighted at the way his fingers curled around her, pressing her closer to him.

Somehow they'd survived this, and Hermione could not be more grateful.

Chapter Text

The air was cold and crisp in the bright and early morning of November 21st as Hermione and Severus apparated behind a lonely dumpster at Heathrow.

"So why is she visiting now, of all times?" Hermione asked, stepping gingerly around a mountain of trash bags.

"Americans can't be bothered to wait for Christmas, so they devised a holiday for late autumn based on the anniversary of their second attempt at colonizing their continent," Severus snarked, drawing a hand through his hair and wrinkling his nose. She wasn’t sure if it was at the smell or the concept of Thanksgiving. "Come," he gestured, and they walked towards the long side of the airport where pickups occurred.

It felt like they emerged in a sea of muggles. Liveried men with placards stood impassively, just close enough to the escalators that they were visible to all descending. Several older couples waited breathlessly for their children to return home from Uni. A few single people hung around, looking moody and jumpy, waiting for partners returning from business trips.

Even in plainclothes, Hermione and Severus did not fit in well. They lingered next to a sad potted plant and held hands, Hermione running her thumb over Severus' palm, and Severus sweating profusely in the iridescent light.

“You all right?” asked Hermione, and Severus snorted impassively. His other motions belied his nervousness, however - the way his fingers refused to hold still in her hand, the rapid pace of his breathing, the movement of his eyes across every woman’s face that came down the escalators.

Hermione also was nervous, but her nervousness was more akin to how she’d felt in anticipation of their dinner with Neville the other night. Severus seemed distinctly more agitated than he had been then. She remained concerned, and did her best to remain calm as possible, even to the extent of regulating her breathing.

The digital screens in the airport updated automatically with a dizzying array of numbers and letters that, if Hermione hadn't been so good at arithmancy, would have been quite distracting indeed. Severus seemed acclimated to it, and only once in a while stared malevolently at the information, as if daring it to contradict the information he had.

Erika Holmes was due to arrive at 7:15am, and not a minute sooner or later.

Of course that didn't happen, airplanes being what they are.

As 7:15 passed, Severus growled and pressed his forehead against the wall. The screen said Erika’s plane was delayed by an hour.

"We have time," Hermione said comfortingly, "my classes will keep. Time turners are exactly for this kind of situation."

"My patience, however, will not keep," Severus seethed, and with an aggrieved sigh he dragged them both towards some empty benches near the baggage carousel. The benches were hard, made of an uncomfortable mesh wire, and had arms. The arms meant he had to jostle to squeeze himself in, and the net result was that he looked like a cake oozing out of its mold at every possible place.

Hermione sat down next to him, admiring the view all the while, and pressed her head on his shoulder.

"No need to panic, love," she murmured, and kissed him fondly. "We can wait."

He seemed to want to reply, but they were interrupted by a gentle voice.

"Excuse me?"

The voice emerged from behind them, and Hermione arched her head to look back. Then she felt like her brain had dropped out of her skull.

Her parents were standing there, bags in hand, looking just the same as they always had - her father in a blue windbreaker and her mother in sensible shoes - but they were also cloudy-eyes, just as she had left them.

"My name is Wendell," said her father, extending a big familiar hand to her. Hermione took it numbly as he shook it, as introducing himself to a stranger. It felt eerie. "We are here to look for our daughter. She disappeared several years ago and we believe she came here."

He frowned, and despite the cloudiness in his eyes, Hermione could see how sad he looked.

Hermione's mother seemed significantly less distraught, as was her wont. "You do remind me a bit of Wendy's great aunt, Hermione. Doesn't she, dear? Her hair especially."

Severus, clearly bewildered, stood up slowly, and faced the people who were potentially menacing his girlfriend. His eyes met Hermione's, and Hermione practically screamed in her mind, "Shit - these are my parents!" She hoped he picked up on it through legilimancy, though she knew he tried to keep that skill tucked deep within his mind these days.

"Pleasure to meet you," drawled Severus, extending his hand. "Siger Prince."

Hermione's eyebrow twitched as he pronounced his pseudonym - bookmarking it in her mind to ask him about it.

It never occurred to her to think that hard about what she would do in this situation. Granted, it had seemed patently unlikely to come up - she had counted on never meeting her parents in England again until she brought them back. Silly, she realized.

She looked at Severus with frustration. This was not what she had expected to deal with on the Monday morning prior to meeting her Metamour. He seemed unrealistically calm and collected - a total reversal of where he’d been minutes prior. It seems that stress brought out the best in him, though that was an unfortunate habit of which she intended to break him.

"We can help you," Hermione said finally, realizing she might as well face the music. "Just wait a moment?"

"No matter," said her father amiably, "We’ll manage, I think. Can we get a cab out there?" He gestured towards the door leading to the car park.  

"...Siger," Hermione said, and focused her eyes hard at Severus, begging him to pay attention to their forefront of her mind.

"What is this?" She heard his voice in her mind, and she relaxed slightly.

"My parents," she screeched internally, "help me!"

"Heaven help us," he responded, "your parents?"

He appeared somewhat amused now that there was some explanation. "What can I do to help?"

"Let's just... Stall them," Hermione fumbled. "I need to take off the charm that I put them under years ago. They don't remember me but still the charm is clearly wearing off, they're remembering fragments of their old life.”

"Okay," Severus said in her mind. Then, he glanced around until he saw a photo booth. It appeared to be out of order, but he gestured grandly towards it.

"Wendell, it is our custom in this country to give visitors a gift when they arrive in Heathrow. Would you do me the honor of taking a photograph with me in celebration of your arrival?"

Hermione's father looked as puzzled as could be. "I suppose," he said dubiously.

"Then come," Severus said grandly, grabbing Hermione's father's elbow smoothly and maneuvering him into the booth with such a suave grace that Hermione almost envied her father of Severus' touch.

Hermione's mother looked more suspicious than her father, and she scrutinized Hermione closely. "What is your name?" she asked, pushing her glasses further up her nose with the back of her palm. Hermione noticed with a stab of nostalgia that her mother had pen marks all up and down her wrist - a habit of writing with such fervor that she didn’t realize she was smearing her pages. Hermione had been careful not to inherit that habit, though she sometimes slipped up and did it. It’d become such an automatic effort, to catch herself pressing her wrist against the page, that she had completely forgotten why she’d started trying to catch herself in the first place.

Hermione felt her heart sink. "Would you believe - my name, it's Hermione," she said softly, as if not wanting to believe it herself.

Her mother didn't have any gleam of recognition. She merely nodded. "Suits you well," she said. "Hermione what?"

"Granger," murmured Hermione even more softly.

Again, no lightbulb seemed to go off in her mother's eyes. "What a horrid name," she said with a roll of the eyes, and Hermione's jaw dropped.

She was saved by Severus emerging from the booth, her father in tow. Dr. Oliver Granger looked as if he's been stupefied.

"Next," barked Severus efficiently, and before anyone could complain, he whisked away Hermione's mother into the photo booth.

Hermione was left with her father, who had been clearly brought out of the confounding charms. Severus must not have done much in the way of counseling, however, because Hermione observed her father’s memory thaw out as clearly as if it’d been in the deep freeze. Oliver initially blinked at her, experiencing recognition, and then as it began to dawn on him, his hand flew to his mouth, and he took a deep steadying breath.

Then, it soon became clear that he was trying hard not to cry. His attempt to conceal his emotion barely worked, and he finally broke down crying, throwing himself onto the hard bench and putting his face in his hands.

Hermione was stunned. She’d never - ever- seen her father cry. Not even at his beloved mother’s funeral did she see him pass a tear. He’d always been so stoic and manly - even when he’d got kidney stones as a little tyke and had to lay on the couch for several days until they passed. He’d never appeared weak, helpless, or shed a tear. And now here he was, completely torn to pieces in a public place.

This wasn’t like her father. This wasn’t like him at all.

"Erm, da'?" asked Hermione, sitting down next to her father. She offered her hand, and he took it, but kept his face covered with his spare hand as he sobbed silently.

"I don't understand," he finally said, brushing his face clean of tears and taking a deep breath. "Her... Hermione?"

She nodded gloomily. While deeply distressing to see her father so distraught, obtaining her father’s forgiveness would be easy. It was her mother who really was going to be the trial by fire.

"Yeah," she confessed, feeling her own eyes prickling, "it's me."

"It is *I*," he corrected automatically, but Oliver looked immediately shocked at himself. "But it doesn't matter," he assured her, as if he were afraid his grammar corrections were the reason she’d left them in Australia, and he embraced her warmly, though there was an undercurrent of intense fear in his voice. "How are you, my darling?"

Hermione felt her heart melt, and her prickles began to form her own sobs. What was happening to her father? She didn’t quite understand.

"I missed you," she whimpered, feeling the despair she had felt for so long culminate in a massive wave of relief. What she didn’t articulate was that seeing her father, like this, made her miss him even more - the memory she had of him. She hadn’t remembered him being so childlike, but here he was, cradling her but simultaneously seeming to derive more strength from her than she was receiving from him.

He had changed, Hermione felt, and it wasn’t something superfluous. This was something very deep. She wondered what it might be. Was it just that her memories of her parents were flawed?

In the meantime, Severus emerged from the booth, calm and collected. Hermione's mother was not, however, and she was already glaring daggers at Hermione.

Hermione deserved it, of course. But she wished more than ever that her mother was the forgiving type.

Hermione's father, Oliver-nee-Wendell-nee-Oliver, hadn't let her go. "I can't believe it," he said, "I just don't understand what happened."

"You weren't supposed to understand," Hermione said, and patted her father on the shoulder.

"Why, Hermione?" asked her mother, Rachel Granger-Wilkins. She seems to have pieced together more than Oliver had. But just like Oliver, there was something off about her. She seemed tired - unspeakably, deeply tired. Hermione was unnerved by it.

"I owe both of you an explanation," Hermione said, trying to get a grip on herself and dismiss the odd feeling she had about her parents, "and trust me, I will get to it. But it will take some time, and I really don't have that today."

This was clearly the wrong thing to say. Rachel’s eyes burned in response, Oliver seemed as pathetic as a cat who had fallen into a puddle, and Severus was scanning them both with fierce attention.  

Then his eyes met Hermione’s. "Hermione!" said Severus sharply. "May I talk with you a moment?"

He didn't allow her to disagree, and instead her parents watched in some astonishment as he swept her into the photo booth.

"So what is the plan?" he asked.  His voice was cold and formal.

"What do you mean?" Hermione responded..

"You know what I mean," he said with a snap. "No doubt you have regaled them for all your school years with tales of your awful bully of a professor. Now, tell me our cover story - why are we here?"

Hermione looked abashed. It was true - she'd laid it on pretty heavy in her letters home. Her parents had despised him all the more fully on his behalf.

The truth shone in her eyes, and he seemed to gleam in response - some combination of pride over how his affected disguise had worked, and bitterness at how deeply it had been entrenched in her parent's minds.

"May I make a suggestion?" He asked, his voice taut and crisp. "We are here to go to Australia and find them. You tried before but couldn't undo the memory charm. Say I'm a specialist at these things, which isn't much of a stretch as it happens. Fortunately this happy coincidence means we won't have to go, oh lucky us."

Hermione's eyes widened. "You just came up with that?" she asked, processing all the information.

"Old habits," he said glibly. He gazed into her eyes, already armed against her next question.

"I expect you don't want to simply be introduced as my romantic companion?"

He snorted and rolled his eyes.

"No, really, it isn't funny," she said, feeling her face flush. "I know we haven't talked about this, but there's no reason to laugh at me."

"Hermione," he responded, his voice low and a touch of anger in it, "let's not pretend as though I'm bring-home-to-the-parents material. Usually that is a prelude to marriage proposals, I believe? And that simply would be unfair of me to suggest, for so many reasons. Much less the day you are unexpectedly reuniting with your parents who you filed away for half a decade."

"I have many questions," Hermione hissed, "but most specifically why you think you aren't worth introducing to my parents as my lover, or boy friend, or what have you."

His laugh was dark and self deprecating, and he refused to meet her eyes, instead staring up at the grimy ceiling of the photo booth. "Do you even need to ask?" he responded, and she could tell his anxiety was rising markedly.

"Fine," she said, standing and smoothing her dress. "We will go with your story for today. But be forewarned," she said, "one of the reasons I "filed away" my parents is because I don't lie to them. And if they ask about the nature of our relationship, I will tell the truth.”

"Fine," he said, realizing he wasn't going to get much farther with this line of inquiry for the moment, "and by the way - let's talk about that spell for a moment."

"Ah yes," Hermione responded, "I'm quite pleased you managed to undo it so quickly. It took me hours to set up."

"Unfortunately, my dear," Severus said with a thin warmth, which was as close as he could come to being reassuring while explaining how she’d spectacularly fucked up. “The spells you used, while not permanent, do have some permanent damage. I removed the confounding components and the false memories that you transplanted in their consciousness, but you did some Substantial damage to their minds in doing what you did.”

“Oh no,” Hermione said, feeling her chest tighten.

“You didn't do any changes to their subconscious minds, which means that the memory charms you placed didn't work long term because their consciousness and subconsciousness were constantly in battle with each other. Together they pieced together some fragments of their subconscious - which might have caused them even more permanent psychological damage.”

“Oh no,” she murmured, feeling her breath shorten. “I didn’t know...”

Severus sighed. His eyes were melancholy, and she realized it was because he was being reminded of their so-significant age difference. Where had he been during the time that she’d been putting her parents in Australia? “It was of course impressive magic for someone of your age,” he said, “but I'm sure that with your maturation of your knowledge, even today without prior preparation you could do a more effective job with less effort than that time you did it then.

“Memory charms in particular,” he went on, “are truly difficult skills. Undersung for their difficulty, in many ways. They require the dexterity and precision of a surgeon, and the fortitude of a healer.” He sighed, warming up to the subject. Hermione listened with her usual rapt attention - though it was a little bit more difficult to hear, because of what it meant - putting her parents in danger.

 

“There are so many ways to mess up a memory spell,” Severus went on, “many with irreversible damage. And yet because of the way they are presented in media, people take them lightly, confounding people right and left as so pleased them. Most of the basic charms used in school have little to no permanent effect, but once anyone purchases a standard master's level textbook they can get the more devious stuff. And we don't teach people how to use that stuff, because it is ironically dangerous. I have always been an advocate for teaching anyone keen on a concept everything about a topic, particularly how to keep themselves safe while performing practical applications. Whereas those who have no whit or care about a dangerous thing, like potions, shouldn't be on the core curriculum.”

Feeling the shame burning her - it irked her so much to be even thought of in the same room as being careless - she snapped, “Save the lecture.”

Severus’s brow furrowed, and she took a stabilizing breath. “Severus, don’t break down on me now. I love you, and I love what you're saying, mostly. But now is not really the time.”

“Of course,” he said. He looked at her, before cautiously adding, “Suffice it to say, it was relatively easy to break the bonds of their conscious minds because they were already fairly worn away. Your parents are clever people, and because of that I’m sure they were abnormally successful in getting through the charms. But every brain is different, as most books neglect to say, and setting up memory modification spells is not a one size fits all situation, despite what some numbskull authors might imply. All memories have different means of being encoded and because of that, each person attempting to modify memories must target multiple elements of the person's psyche and identify the primary channels of memory. One common side effect of poorly affected memory spells is paralysis and loss of life - because when tinkering with the memory, most people do not realize, one can accidentally snap some wires in the brain related to autonomic functions like breathing and the heartbeat, and muscle memory functions like walking and swimming. It is indeed rare that any memory modification comes without a somatic effect.”

Hermione proceeded to realize how very dangerous her endeavors had been. Her own anxiety quadrupled her problem and magnified it immensely. Despite Severus’ measured explanation, she felt like he was telling her that her parents being alive at this point was a miracle, really. Given how much modification she made to her damn spells because they weren't working like she wanted... She'd built a web of destruction around her parents. She was grateful they were here and that she had run into them by such a chance, and she felt nearly suicidal at the idea that she had nearly done them in by her attempt to protect them.

"I understand, Severus," she said softly, her head slumping with the overwhelming guilt at being admonished.

Because he was already closely attending to her, he picked up on the deep feelings of inadequacy and sadness immediately.

"Come now," he said, "come now."

He pressed her into his arms, and she wilted against his softness with relief, a welcome distraction. His muggle clothes fit him a little snugly, which was exactly how she liked - a simple dark green button down with black trousers and a dark grey greatcoat. He was warm and snuggly, and heavenly to touch. In the dark recesses of her mind, she wanted comfort and reassurance in the most basic and human way possible - sex. She wanted him now, even knowing her parents were outside in shock.

Severus seemed to understand, and he held her closer to her. "I suppose your parents are appreciating the time to conference," Severus said, and he pressed his lips into Hermione's soft, buoyant hair.

She sighed and embraced him more fervently. "You're just making an excuse," she said.

"You can leave any time you want," he said, holding her closer with a firm hand that threatened to press her into an unbreakable embrace, "but... I need to track the incoming flights."

Hermione just waved her hand and buried her face in Severus’ soft breasts, and a mirage of the screen from outside shows up on the darkened screen in the photo booth.

As they looked, it appeared that Erika's flight was delayed even further.

"Satisfied?" asked Hermione, and Severus nodded.

"Somewhat," he said, and he pressed tightly against her until she realized his member was at attention.

"Mm," Hermione said, "Kinky."

"Just to let you know what you're in for tonight," he said, and, with a deep breath, he added, "Also, if it pleases you, though Merlin knows why it would, you can tell your parents I am your... Romantic partner or whatnot."

Hermione's sadness immediately turned. "It would please me a great deal."

He nodded. The tips of his hair brushed against Hermione’s cheeks.  "Unfortunately I can't support you if they disown you. At least not until I hit a massively lucrative patent."

Hermione kissed his lovely soft cheek and steeled herself against the firestorm she was sure to ensure. Them, with a surrender to the future, she went outside.

Chapter Text

They ended up sitting in the comfy chairs of an airport coffee shop, but the atmosphere was still stifling. The fogginess in the eyes of Rachel Wilkins-Granger was gone, but Oliver Granger still seemed a bit out of it.

Rachel, was fiercely angry about the whole affair in a way that reassured Hermione that little personality damage has been done. Still, the sense of fatigue seemed to pervade everything Rachel said and did, from stirring her coffee to starting her interrogation of Hermione. Oliver, for his part, was as toothless as usual, erring on the side of benevolent and permissive.

"What a fortunate coincidence it happened this way," Oliver said, settling down into a comfy chair, his mood much brighter after he had a few sips of a mocha latte in him. (For a skinny man, he indulged himself quite a lot on sweet things.) "I still can't quite believe our good luck. Thank goodness you didn't head all the way to Down Under before you realized we were stuck back here!"

"Yes," Rachel said, her tone terse. "What luck."

She hadn't completely accepted the brief tale of explanation that Hermione and Severus had presented. With that suspicious note, she sipped her austere black tea. She cast a glance at Severus, who was busily engaged in eating a bran cake. He had murmured his drink order to the barista to hide the fact that he'd asked for double whip and triple caramel for his own latte. Hermione heard it, being close to his side, and she'd pinched him affectionately to see his belly jiggle. He'd cast her a severe glare that, in a more intimate context, would have made her giggle. Given the circumstances, she'd just smiled and turned away and squeezed his hand.

She was still holding it tightly since they'd left the photo booth together. She thought it was more mature, to quietly announced her romantic connection to "Siger" by this simple gesture. Rachel was swift on the uptake and seemed to still be evaluating Serverus' weaknesses. For, Hermione knew, her mother would principally focus on those like a hawk. Heaven knew her mother had harped on Ron and Harry enough over the years. (Hermione's passing crushes on both of them could scarcely pass by unnoticed to Rachel).

"So," Rachel said finally, as the three others tried their best to ignore Rachel's previous comment, "when's the due date, Hermione?"

It was clearly a jibe at her body's size - Hermione, at her plumpening 221 pounds and waist of forty-seven inches, Hermione was nearly a hundred pounds heavier than when she'd last seen her parents. Granted, being a teenager of 130-odd and five feet high wasn't skinny, but it certainly wasn't terribly predictive of what was to happen to Hermione's body.

In response, Hermione cast a warning glare at her mother, and cast her eyes down again, picking at her scone.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Rachel said, but it was clear she wasn't sorry at all. There was a sharpness behind her pacifying tone. "Forgive me. I shouldn't have assumed. You've always just been so... petite."

"It's been five years since you last saw me, mother," Hermione said, "and I don't want to talk about it."

"All right, all right," said Oliver, who exuded the sense that he couldn't care less what size Hermione was or wasn't. "She doesn't want to talk about it. So," he went on, and clapped Severus on the shoulder heavily. Severus quietly seethed. "Tell us about your man."

"I'd love to," Hermione said, "but don't you want to talk about... Everything else?"

"All in good time," assured Oliver heartily, putting on his best listening face - which was about as convincing as a Labrador retriever abstaining from a treat. "What do you do, Siger?"

"I'm a potions master," Severus said quietly. "With specialties in what you'd call immunology and endocrinology. But I tend to dabble in cross-systems interactions, and have done some projects in other disciplines, including neurology and pharmacy."

"Ah," Oliver said with relief, hearing Severus speak doctor language. Severus was as close as he could be to passing win Oliver's approval at this point. "So are you involved with research, or more practical applications?"

"I have had the good fortune to become involved In experimental research, with some more standard studies. Mostly I am involved in developing and brewing prototypes, and I collaborate with a practical team at St. Mungo's hospital, if you've heard of that."

"I see," Oliver Said, a classic phrase that signaled to Hermione that the conversation was about to go far over his head. "And what sorts of projects are you doing with the hospital?"

"They span a variety of areas," Severus said, and the frown on his face indicated he saw through Oliver's worldliness. "I'm not sure if you want to hear about them in detail."

"Oh please, go ahead," Oliver said, and with his authentic forwardness, he added, "I don't know how much of it I'll be able to keep up with, it's been awhile since medical school. But I am terribly interested."

"If you insist," Severus said, and began detailing his various projects. All of which Hermione was already intimately familiar with, and which this writer, dear readers, cannot keep up with, I'm sad to say. It all sounded very promising, I assure you.

In the meantime, while the men were occupied, Hermione's mother found the opportunity to grill Hermione directly.

"So," Rachel asked, her face fiery, "how did you think we'd feel about this?"

Hermione blinked. "About what in particular?" She asked, because she could not guess which of her recent violations was the most egregious.

"About leaving us in Australia for over five years, isn't that enough?" responsed Rachel, her eyes grey and skeptical. In her eyes there was, Hermione saw as she looked closely, the faintest hint of tears.

...

It wasn't much of a stretch for anyone impartial to conclude the similarity between the likeness of Dr. Wilkins-Granger and that of Hermione herself. But relationships between ambitious mothers and daughters are strange. Hermione tended to be impressed by her mother, and also fearfully afraid that she would not live up to her mother's standards.

Rachel's parents were softcore Jews of the Reformed persuasion. Her father had been a doctor, and her mother had been a nurse. Rachel had one-upped her mother very boldly by becoming a doctor herself, sacrificing having a family until nearly too late. Her parents both died resentfully before Rachel could reproduce.

Oliver was a full ten years younger than her; and they met when she employed him as a junior partner at her practice. It was, despite the urgency behind it, a marriage of love as much as convenience, and Oliver and Rachel were inseparable creatures. Hermione had no idea why. Oliver was warm and bumbley, charismatic and delightful, if a bit over enthusiastic. Whereas Rachel was cold, and smart as a whip - and this combination was ,in her generation especially, more of a liability than an asset.

Hermione was Rachel's first and last child, not counting a college abortion. (This abortion was one which Rachel spoke frankly about, being an explosive feminist wholeheartedly dedicated to women's rights.) Rachel sought to do everything to ensure Hermione had all the advantages necessary to become an even better doctor.

Until, of course, Hermione had gone to magic school instead. Rachel never had quite forgiven her that disappointment. Rachel never said so outright, but it came out in small ways - comments about her friends' children and their progress towards medical school, her constant encouragement to drop out of Hogwarts at any sign that Hermione wasn't happy there, and even her expressed hopes that if Hermione wanted to be a witch, that at least Hermione would marry a doctor.

Oliver, for his part, was benignly negligent when it came to Hermione's education, merely expressing that Rachel knew far better than he did about educating children. He provided Hermione with whatever interesting books she desired, and frequently gave her new ones to explore. He was thoughtful and kind, and for these reasons Hermione tended to prefer her dad over her mother. But he had the horrible habit of not listening at all when Hermione told him about the interesting things she was reading, and also to constantly think of Hermione as a little girl just needing to follow the rules and let the adults handle all the difficult work. He wanted her to be a child and enjoy her childhood, and not fret so much. It was sweet but not particularly helpful support.

Hermione had decided that Rachel and Oliver's chapter as involuntary expats would be good for all involved. Her mother would forget what kind of disappointment she had as a daughter, and more importantly, would not remind Hermione of this while Hermione was engaged in a deadly contents of which mission, if she had tried to explain them, would sound stupid to her mother. Oliver would have told her not to fret about it, but let the adults in her world handle it, they probably knew what they were doing. Rachel would probably have suggested shooting the bastards, with guns. (In all seriousness, Hermione wished she hadn't been so stubborn to dismiss this latter idea. Even Voldemort was not immune to bullets.)

But it wasn't all self serving, Hermione's desire to remove her parents from the country. Rachel had an unfortunate tendency to overextend herself, and her cardiologist had recommended an early retirement due to Rachel's health challenges. This suggestion was one that Rachel had defied vigorously. In fact, the summer after Hermione's fourth year, Rachel had been put in the hospital for irregular palpitations of the heart, and Rachel had fought until she obtained an early discharge - only to collapse at work and be rushed into the ICU until she recovered. But she wasn't back to her old self again even by the time Hermione sent her parents to Australia.

Since Hermione's fifth year, Oliver had confided that he felt fear every time her mother worked late. Rachel subsisted on take-away, with little regard to her own health, in order to author grants, develop programs, and issue hospital emergency surgeries at all hours. Her life was significantly more exciting and strenuous than the lives of most private practice dentists, in other words. But even as she entered her sixties, she was not prepared to stop her frenetic pace of work.

It was this that had also inspired Hermione to take the actions that she had done - Hermione had, in her naiveté, thought her mother being removed from her work would put her mother's health back in the right. Now of course Hermione knew her mother would be vigorously denying herself rest until she died on her feet, because Hermione better understood people now. Ironically she understood her mother better now after having spent five years out of touch. But Hermione forgave her younger self and her dream that her mother might in fact be better off without her work. It had been a kind dream.

…..

"Why did you do this?" asked Rachel again, and Hermione sighed.

"It's complicated," she said, feeling her throat tighten. Then, she took a deep breath. Was it better to just flat-out lie, and say that it was a decision based on a lack of reason? Or was it better to say that this was a premeditated decision?

She found herself comparing the situation to one of manslaughter versus contemplated and planned murder. It was a bit morbid, but it helped her come to a conclusion about how to frame the situation.

"It was a senseless decision, you're completely right," Hermione said, even though this was far from the truth. Her own words echoed in her mind I always tell my parents the truth, and she realized that this wasn't entirely true anymore. She'd always been forthcoming with her parents before, when she was a child.

But now? Now she was an adult. And now she could decide how to act with her parents. She supposed that if she stopped being so forthcoming, they might actually treat her as an adult, with boundaries worth respecting.

It was an uncomfortable feeling, but also a liberating one. She just hoped it wouldn't backfire.

"I was completely at my wit's end when I did it," Hermione said, hoping her mother wouldn't see through her lie. "I had no idea what I was doing. I just… threw together some old spells I hoped would work, and somehow they did." Granted, this latter part was almost true - despite her extensive research beforehand, the spells she'd used hadn't worked quite as well as she'd hoped, and she had indeed needed to improvise.

"But why didn't you trust us?" asked Rachel, "We're your parents. We could have helped you."

"You're right," Hermione said, feeling her mood sink a little bit as she conceded this point. It was a lie - she knew how Voldemort would have, had it even been remotely convenient, slashed their faces open just to get at Hermione.

But perhaps it was better they didn't know how much danger they were in.

"You're right," Hermione went on, "as soon as it was all done, I saw how it was actually worse for you to be out of the country. But it was too late, and there wasn't a way for me to undo it."

"And why so long for you to come for us?" asked Rachel, her voice rising slightly. She seemed on the verge of tears.

Hermione hated to see her mother cry.

"Because I couldn't find a way," Hermione said sadly, looking down at the ground. "Siger and I, we have been working for years, now, to try and figure out how to free you from the mess of charms and modifications I made to your memories. It was only this week we finally had a breakthrough. You saw how easily he slipped you out of them. Don't be fooled - it wasn't simple to come up with the right combination of spells, even though the execution was easy."

Rachel's eyes were shining now, and a few tears began to slip from them. She pressed a napkin primly against her cheeks.

"It wasn't easy," she said, "to come out of that fog. All those memories coming back… it was like being run over by a freight train of one's own feelings."

"I know," Hermione said, "I'm so sorry."

Rachel patted her cheeks again, blinking at Hermione with a sense of foreign helplessness. She seemed to be asking Who even are you?

"And what's more," Rachel asked, pivoting on the subject, "Hermione, is Siger your boyfriend?"

This was loud enough that Oliver and Severus could hear, and the two of them went silent, both gazing over at the women.

Hermione looked over at Severus, and his face was casually neutral. Say whatever you like, Severus reminded her with his eyes.

"You could say that," she said. "He is a person I care for very much, and want to spend more time with."

Her mother looked closely at him. Finally, she asked, "are you Jewish?"

Hermione was shocked. She Knew her mother was from a Jewish family but that they'd been secular enough to be pleased to accommodate the agnostic Oliver Granger into their family.

Severus was taken aback as she was, not for the least of reasons was because he had been effectively on the authoritarian end of a genocidal war.

"Erm, no," he said, his face coloring. "They don't exactly...erm...wizards don't exactly practice Muggle traditions in that way."

"What does that mean?" asked Rachel doggedly.

Severus, giving up, shook his head. "Raised Catholic, practicing agnostic."

"Ah," said Hermione's mother in a tone that seemed neutral. Then she grudgingly smiled, mostly satisfied. "I don't want my daughter to end up with a black hat."

Severus had not, apparently, heard much about Orthodox Judaism in his time in America, and his puzzled look showed as much. But Hermione figured she could explain more about it later.

"So," Rachel was going on, gazing at them both with scrutiny that would have befitted McGonagall. "I still have many questions."

"Ask away, mother," Hermione said, "but do bear in mind that I need to eventually go back and teach my classes for the day."

"Ah," Oliver said, "so you're a professor?"

"Yes," Hermione said, "and actually, Professor Snape and I-"

Then, with horror, she realized what she had said. The name 'Professor Snape' had just spilled out of her mouth like sand out of a macrame bag. And moreover, she didn't have the good sense to cover it up by correcting herself immediately - she instead cast a desperate glance at Severus, who just rolled his eyes at her.

"I knew it," Rachel said, standing up, furious. "I knew you were hiding something!"

"Oh dear heavens," Oliver said, appearing a bit stunned. Then, still a bit foggy in the brain, he asked, "What is it they were hiding, exactly?"

Ignoring her husband completely, "You were her PROFESSOR," Rachel practically shrieked, and approached Severus with malice in her eyes. "And five years later, here you are. When did you set your sights on our little girl? The first day she walked into your class, I'll bet. That's why you treated her like such a bully. Classic abuser tactics - degrade a girl until she's lost all confidence in herself, then scoop her up with praise and supplication. Makes her dependent on your love" she said, violently angry.

Severus, for his part, just sat there, unmoving.

Hermione hadn't been expecting this.

"And how is it that just now you've come to the sudden breakthrough where you can miraculously cure us of the curse that we were under?" Rachel went on. "This was far more than a mere coincidence, my darling girl. This man has had you under his thumb the entire time."

If there had been any truth to any of this, Hermione might have quailed underneath her mother's tremendous might. As it happened, however, Hermione took a few deep breaths, and then softly suggested, "Mother, you've got to calm down. Your heart."

"I will not calm down," Rachel said, beginning to cry outright. "I will not calm down."

Oliver, fortunately, took this as his cue, and he stood up and embraced his wife. "Hush, hush," he murmured, rocking her while Rachel began to sob incoherently in his arms. "It's all right. It's all right."

As Rachel gasped for air on Oliver's shoulder, Severus stood. He stared coldly at the couple. "I think I'd best be off," he said, and he walked away, not looking back at Hermione.

Hermione's heart immediately broke.

"Mother!" she exclaimed, but as her mother just started crying louder, Hermione mellowed her voice. "Mother. I'm sorry," she said quietly. "It's not what you think. It really isn't. We only just started dating a few months ago. He's… I've been engaged, mother," she went on, rambling aimlessly, "Ron and I were engaged. We were going to be married. I didn't even know Severus was alive for… for years. And Ron and I, we were going to be married. Severus didn't even show up again in the wizarding world until relatively recently. He spent years in America, mother. He had another girlfriend. He and I… this is new. And he was never inappropriate in that way when he was a teacher. Never."

This seemed to placate Oliver's apparent concern well enough. "See, darling," he murmured to Rachel, "It isn't like you thought. They haven't been dating very long. She was going to marry Ronald Weasley, that funny kid with the scar on his face and the long hair, isn't that right?"

"No, that was- oh, nevermind," Hermione tried to correct Oliver. He was on her side, repeating back everything Hermione had said to Rachel.

"You know, ma," Hermione said, gently embracing her mother and father together, "You're going to have to learn to trust me, if we're going to continue to be in each others' lives now that you're back. I know I shattered that trust you had in me when I was young and made an incredibly stupid decision that took far too long to correct. But I'm much older now - and grown up, now - and you're going to have to take what I say at face value. Not try and decide that I was smoking in the bathroom because I was reading a book in there so long."

Hermione smiled faintly at the memory of her mother banging on the bathroom door after Hermione had gotten so engaged in a book that she had been in there a full hour - and Rachel had been suspicious and enraged until Hermione opened the door and showed her she'd read over a hundred pages in a book and the window was closed tight the whole time.

"I understand," Rachel said, sniffling. "It's just… oh, Hermione, you're so grown up now. And it feels like it happened overnight. I don't know how to react, Hermione."

"That's right," reassured Oliver, and he kissed his wife gently on the cheek. "That's right."

"Excuse me?" asked a voice behind them, and Hermione felt a tap on her shoulder. Hermione processed the voice, and it seemed fairly familiar to Hermione but wasn't immediately recognizable.

Hermione turned her head and saw a plump, soft black woman in her early thirties standing in front of her. "I couldn't help but overhear - are you the Hermione I'm looking for?"

Hermione tore herself away from her parents as she did a double-take. "Erika?"

The girl smiled, her grin wide. "That's me!"

Goddamit, Hermione thought to herself, Where on earth did Severus go, and why am I suddenly in a modern comedy of errors?

 

Chapter Text

Hermione couldn't believe the poor fortune she was having today.

"Erika," she said in a low whisper, "now is not a good time."

Louder she said, "Erika, what a surprise! What are you doing in England?"

Thankfully Erika was quick to follow along. "Visiting friends," she said, grinning widely. "What a coincidence, you being here! I'm surprised they aren't here yet to pick me up. Could you by any chance give me a ride?"

"Of course," Hermione said, and gestured to the comfy chairs. "These are my parents, Oliver and Rachel."

"A pleasure to meet you," said Erika, extending her hand warmly. Hermione recognized, in her words and gesture, Severus' learned pureblood charm, and nearly laughed aloud to see it. Was it possible he had influenced her so much?

Oliver shook her hand with the same enthusiasm, and Rachel primly reciprocated as well.

"I'm so excited to be home," Erika said, gazing around at the bleak airport as if it were enchanted. "It's been so long."

"Glad to have you home," Hermione said, "our mutual friend has gone to the bathroom, I assume, and he will be back shortly."

"So what are you all doing here?" Erika asked. Her casualness was a godsend. Hermione couldn't be more thankful.

"Well," Hermione explained, "Severus and I were headed to Australia to try and remedy my parents. You surely remember hearing about how we'd been working for years to find a way to bring them back to themselves. But as it happened, my parents came here - and now with our recent experimental charm, they're okay."

"Wow," Erika said, her large eyes gleaming with humor and recognition. "That's such a coincidence. How amazing! You know what the Jungians say," she went on, and she waggled her fingers in a "jazz hands" motion. "Synchronicity."

"Exactly right," said Oliver, who ate up that wooey shit like Severus could eat a whole turkey, "such a unique coincidence, it seems like it was fated to happen."

"Yes indeed," echoed Hermione with a sigh. Perhaps all this would work out in the end. "If you believe in fate."

Neither parent commented on the heavy implication that Hermione, like all sensible people, did not believe in fate.

"So what next?" asked Erika smoothly before either of the doctors Granger could respond. "How about breakfast?"

"Splendid," replied Oliver without a second of hesitation. "Severus already had himself a bit of cake, but I suppose the rest of us could've a bite. I'm not quite sure what time it's supposed to be now, but I'm sure it's close to a mealtime somewhere."

Rachel sighed dramatically and began to walk resignedly towards the dismal morning food court.

"No, mum," Hermione said, and then stopped. Her first instinct was to say, "let's just go back to the castle," but then she realized that she wasn't sure if she could do that. As far as Hermione knew, Muggles couldn't even see Hogwarts.

"I'm wondering if you're thinking we should go back to the school," she heard a voice behind her, and a warm hand settled on her shoulder. Severus was back, a little bit calmer at least on the surface. "We should, you know. You have classes to teach."

"But can we?" Hermione asked, and raised an eyebrow at her parents.

"We aren't stowaways, you know," came Rachel's bitter voice, "We are your parents, Hermione."

"Let her be," came Oliver's placating voice. "Don't you see this is more complicated than that?"

"This wizarding business has always been too complicated for my taste," responded Rachel with a hint of a snarl.

Severus' eyes seemed to gleam. "I like your mum," he said beneath his breath, taking Hermione's hand. "Skeptic after my own heart." He seemed to hesitate with Erika, who was smiling at him broadly but with eyes that demonstrated compassion for the complicated situation. It was clear he wanted desperately to take her hand as well, and sweep her up into an embrace, but for the moment he simply extended his hand to her. "A pleasure to see you again, my dear."

"Same to you, Professor Snape," said Erika, who barely hid a giggle.

Hermione had never seen Severus blush to be called Professor Snape, but the color rose to his cheeks as Erika grinned at him knowledgeably. He smoothed the front of his shirt, which was a bit on the threadbare side since it was a Muggle piece he hadn't worn in quite a while and needed to extend prior to coming out that morning. For a moment, he seemed to have forgotten Hermione entirely, and was wholly concentrating on his interactions with Erika. Erika grasped his hand again, and shook it meaningfully, clasping it with both her hands. "It really is good to see you, Severus," she said, and patted his shoulder as she turned back to Hermione.

Hermione, on her part, felt the smallest bit sad. She wondered if she still made Severus blush. When was the last time she had made him so mumbly and bashful? She couldn't remember for the moment, and that saddened her.

Severus was doing his best to reinvest in his composure, and proceeded to wave the group - which was swiftly reaching ridiculous proportions - out of a fire exit, which he silenced with a wave of his wand. With his authoritative bearing, everyone followed without hesitation.

Then, once under cover of a fuel refilling barrel, he offered his arm to Hermione, and she took it with a sense of nervousness. He motioned for the others to do the same: Erika (who seemed casually bewildered but game for the ride,) Oliver (whose eyes were widening with excitement at the realization that finally, after so many years, he was going to see his beloved daughter complete magic), and Rachel (who appeared somber and possibly constipated, given the grim line of her lips.)

Severus seemed to have apologies in his eyes as he met Hermione's gaze. All he said, however, was "Here goes nothing," and they closed their eyes and apparated back to the castle.

........
Oliver promptly threw up as soon as they landed at the front gates of Hogwarts.

"I have always thought it very intelligent of the creators of Hogwarts to position the barriers of the anti-apparition wards far from the castle grounds," Severus said smirkingly as he extended a handkerchief magically pulled out of his cuff and offered it to Oliver.

Oliver, for his part, smiled gratefully, and heaved his guts out another time.

"He's dreadfully weak stomached," said Rachel, who appeared none the worse for wear. "Unlike some people I could mention."

Hermione wasn't sure if that was a fat joke at Severus' expense, a compliment, or both, or neither. Rachel didn't do them the favor of elaborating, so Hermione dismissed it. Anything less than overt antagonism would, unfortunately, have to be ignored. Her mother had every right to be bitter and mean.

"Drink this," Severus said, uncorking a stopper from a bottle he'd brought for Erika's benefit and giving it to Oliver, "and you will feel better."

Oliver took one whiff and wrinkled his nose, but downed the potion and took a few deep breaths. "That's amazing," he said as he stood straight again. "What is that?"

"It's a patented brew," Severus said, "I can't divulge the contents to anyone who doesn't have the license, unfortunately."

"Oh, that's all right," Oliver said, a little dazedly. He had caught sight of Hogwarts, and a huge grin emerged on his face. "That's the school, there?" he asked, a hand pointing at the school.

Everyone looked where he was pointing. Hogwarts was looking particularly lovely at this time of the morning, with the sun getting closer to the middle of the sky. Even Rachel had to be impressed.

"Yes," Hermione said proudly, "it is."

Severus nodded, then steeled himself for the walk back by taking a few deep breaths. "Come along," he said, and offered his arm to Rachel Granger, who refused it but appeared somewhat flattered. Hermione was relieved to see her having to hide a smile. That was much more what she had been hoping for from her mother upon their reunion. With that look, she knew that things would be all right. Even though it had been challenging, it was going to be all right.

.......

Chapter Text

The rest of the morning was occupied by trying to help Hermione's parents get settled in. Hermione finally got them disposed of in a spare guest bedroom, courtesy of a bemused McGonagall. They were severely jetlagged and were pleased to sleep through Hermione's classes, once they'd gotten their fill at the Hogwarts breakfast tables.

Finally, Hermione, Erika, and Severus were alone in Hermione's rooms as Hermione began to scramble together the materials for her classes.

Erika and Severus were sitting on Hermione's book-crowded couch, and Severus was awkwardly holding Erika's hand. At the same time, he seemed unsure whether to enjoy her eye contact or not.

"So you'll be running your classes from now through dinnertime," Erika was saying to Hermione. The other woman's eyes were running over Hermione's sitting room, an Hermione was mostly sure that Erika was just getting accustomed to her new environment - but there was a little something in her brain that seemed to suggest otherwise. As if Erika were appraising Hermione's apartment and deciding Hermione weren't good enough for Severus.

*It's not as if a lot of other people will date him, given what a fat arse he is,* Hermione thought, then hushed the thought immediately with shame. She didn't believe that. She felt like Severus' occasional charm and intelligence, not to mention hero status, would have earned him hundreds of the country's most desirable dates at the drop of a hat if he wanted them, no matter what he looked like. Still, she wondered where this thought came from. Was it a response to her feelings of jealousy, which were muted but still persistent a Erika sat on the sofa with Severus.

"It's nice to know that Severus' taste is consistent," Erika said, as if reading Hermione's mind. "He seems to have a thing for the most wickedly smart girls."

"Thanks?" Hermione said, taking a deep breath. She was finding herself coursing with anxiety and adrenaline, a delayed reaction to the situation where her parents arrived. At the turn of a pin, she felt almost like crying.

Severus turned his head and smiled at Hermione thinly, his lips pressed together in close tight formation. Then he saw that her eyes were starting to well up, and he stood abruptly. "What's wrong?" he asked, drawing her into a close embrace with him.

Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her face into his soft pillowlike breasts. "I don't think I can run classes today," she confessed as she pressed herself deeper into his softness. "This all... is too much."

"That's fine," Severus said gently. "I've never seen you cancel a class. Trust me, some professors are cavalier about it. I encourage you to take care of yourself." He clasped Hermione more tightly in response to her broken sob emerging from her throat. One of his large hands rubbed up and down her shoulders. "Shh," he murmured, and his low voice was strangely soothing. "Should I cancel your classes for you?"

"Yes please," Hermione murmured, and took a few steadying breaths. "I'm sorry Erika," she added, "this is a wonderful first impression of me. My apologies."

"Far from it," Erika said, a good-natured tone to her voice. "This certainly isn't my first impression of you. I've been hearing about how thrilled Severus has been with you for months. You've already won me over, Hemione."

Hermione hadn't thought of it that way. Granted, in some ways she felt the same, because Severus did keep Hermione apprised on his conversations and such regarding Erika. But it wasn't precisely the same, because she still didn't feel completely comfortable with the whole metamour situation.

"Thank you," Hermione said, breathing in and out. Severus then waved his hand, and sent all the books from the couch onto the floor, and then he sat his nice wide arse in the center of the couch, close against Erika. He proceeded to, almost shyly, pat the seat next to him.

Hermione proceeded to sit down, feeling her body stiffen. This was so strange.

Then Severus extended one hesitant arm to surround Erika, who leaned against him with perfect comfort. Then, with a soft tug, he brought Hermione down to a symmetrically similar position on the other side. She slipped down a little more, however, as she untucked herself from under his arm and lay down, flattening the back of her head against his thick thigh. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, feeling her hot breath come back to her as she breathed against Severus' hot stomach flesh. Hermione closed her eyes and felt Severus rubbing his hand through her long curly hair.

"I can't believe this," he murmured, once his hand was firmly stuck in Hermione's curls, "I have two beautiful women who want to be with me."

"Yep," answered Erika simply, and Hermione felt Severus' torso turn slightly. Then, she heard the slightest wet sucking sounds of a kiss, and her eyes flew open. She looked up at Severus and Erika, tentatively re-exploring each other with their tongues and lips. Hermione watched with fascination as Severus' double chins wobbled, and she appreciated the way the bit of pudge in Erika's plump neck also wiggled as they moved. Hermione idly slipped one hand underneath the warm flap of Severus' expansive belly, and she relaxed into the heat of his skin. Her eyes closed, and she listened to Severus and Erika kiss some more. Erika sounded like a good kisser; she was both an initiator and a receiver, and seemed to coax Severus into being more active and passionate with every gentle smack of her lips.

Hermione could not help but feel the slightest bit envious. Watching and listening to someone kiss Severus made her want to kiss and appreciate him as well.

She opened her eyes widely and watched with rapt attention as the others made their ballet duet a reality. Then, as they seemed inclined to stop, Severus opened his eyes and looked down into Hermione's eyes.

"Come," he rumbled thickly, pressing her shoulder and urging her to rise. Hermione did so belaboredly, and she sighed once she got herself into a sitting position.

As soon as she was accessible to him, he pressed his lips into her own. And Hermione felt immediately a mix of desire and pain. She could taste Erika's kiss on his lips - a light and lovely cocoa butter flavor, unless she was imagining it.

Her mind began to spin, and she laid a final kiss on Severus' soft cheek and stood, feeling a bit dizzy.

"I... I don't know if I can do this?" she asked, grasping Severus' shoulder with one hand and pressing her other hand against her face. "This... today was just too much."

"I understand," Erika said, and she glanced between the two magic people with some curiosity, as if expecting sparks or something. "I... I could leave you two be, awhile."

"No, no," Hermione said, shaking her head. She wasn't sure what she wanted. She felt weighed down by the events of the day, and desperately wished she could wake up again and go through the whole day over more slowly. "I just want to take a bit of a lay-down, if that's all right."

"Would you like company?" asked Erika, who was feverishly processing the situation. Hermione watched as Severus, in his confusion and distress, glanced a few times between the two women, before finally settling on Hermione with a look of concern.

"I..."

The honest answer was yes, but Hermione was not about to tell someone who was reuniting with his overseas girlfriend for the first time in years that he should abandon said girlfriend at the drop of a hat.

Erika then slapped Severus on the shoulder good-naturedly. "All right, I'll go ahead and take a nap in Severus' room, then," she said carefully, "if that's all right."

"No," Hermione said, and all of a sudden she felt even worse at the idea of banishing a woman who had come all this way to spend time with her partner. "No, you don't have to go."

"Okay," Severus said, and he seemed frustrated by the situation. He took a deep breath. "Do you want me to come and hold you while you fall asleep?"

"That'd be nice," Hermione said, "but I don't want you to have to leave Erika."

Severus groaned aloud. "I can't be in two places at once," he responded with a hint of a growl. "It's not as though we can all go to bed together."

The two women looked at each other. It sounded simple but it actually was a solution.

"Actually... would... that work for you, Hermione?" broached Erika. "...Sev in the middle?"

Hermione closed her eyes and tried not to smile at Erika calling him Sev. Somehow the levity lended itself to the situation and made her feel like it was worth a try. "Let's give it a shot," she said, feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for someone with greater social competence.

Severus' eyes went wide, but he ended up smiling hesitantly, and turned his head down so his hair fell in front of his face. "If it isn't sustainable, we'll consider other options."

What on earth was this? Hermione couldn't get her head around it, even though she took some deep breaths, and she walked fatiguedly to the bedroom, where she crawled under the bedcovers, barely kicking off her shoes.

Severus and Erika followed her, and silently, they joined her on the bed. The two of them lay on top of the coverlet, while she snuggled beneath it, but Severus accio'ed a fluffy throw blanket from a chair and draped it across their laps. Then he proceeded to snuggle as close to Hermione as possible, and his hand rested gently in the space between her neck and ear, his fingers gently lapping at her earlobe.

Erika, for her part, snuggled into the crook of his arm, saying "I brought my Kindle."

Hermione murmured a wordless sound and buried her head in the pillow. Then, feeling a desperate need for contact, she turned over and pressed her face into Severus' large soft tum instead. He responded by weaving his fingers into her hair kindly, moving in long, languid strokes.

She fell asleep there, to the tune of two persons' breathing - Severus and Erika.

It was somewhat unnerving, but strangely soothing.

Chapter Text

Hermione awoke again feeling like she had a mouth full of wool. Also she felt far too hot. She ripped herself away from the warm spot that she had been occupying and she turned and stared out the window. The sun was lower in the sky than she remembered, and she had a brief moment of panic as she worried whether she'd missed her classes. Then she remembered that she had cancelled them, and she took a deep stabilizing breath.

There was no light on in the room, though the sun setting in the west was casting a golden glow over everything in the bedroom.

Then she felt something soft stir next to her, and her head rose from the warm nest of blankets that draped around her. Everything was so soft and gentle to the touch. Most of the time she didn't have the brain space to notice these things, but she luxuriated in it now.

Crookshanks poked his grizzled head from between the sheets and mewed at her plaintively.

"I'm sorry, lovely," she said, stifling a yawn. She was sad to see that Severus and Erika were not there. It wasn't as if she was fair to expect their undivided attention, of course, when she was sleeping... but it would have been so much better to wake up next to them.

She heaved herself out of bed reluctantly, petted Crookshanks dutifully, and plodded into the kitchenette. She was desperately hungry, and she looked around for signs that Erika or Severus had left something to eat.

It came as a relief to see that Erika had got a box of duty-free chocolates at the airport, and only about a third of them were gone. Hermione happily consumed the rest of the large box as she went to draw herself a bath.

The water was hot, and she relaxed into it, letting her aching body review what it felt like to decompress. She had not given herself a break in so long.

She closed her eyes against the steaming water, and let the coziness of the situation overcome her. She felt like all was well in the world, despite her frustrations of earlier. Well, mostly in spite of them. She refused to let herself think about the situations with her parents and with Erika. It was too much for the moment.

She hear a scratching at the door, and she waved it open with wandless magic - she'd been practicing and trying to build up her skills in this area - and was sadly disappointed to see Crookshanks.

Where was her boyfriend, and why was she sitting in the bath alone?

She eventually got herself out of the bath, drew a robe around her laxly, and padded back to her couch. It still bore the vague imprint of three arses - one enormous, one fairly substantial, and one quite a lot smaller. With a sigh, she made herself comfortable there, and summoned the remainder of the chocolates she hadn't hastily downed.

She'd slept a long time, and now she felt completely disoriented.

However, there was no time like the present for a bit of dinner, even though it was merely five, so she clapped her hands and ordered from the houself that showed itself there.

She found herself absently ordering a modest amount - more curtailed than most of her meals of late. Some sausages, some potatoes, some fried leeks, some peas in butter. And as these all showed themselves in front of her, she found her mouth watering for more.

The potatoes were whipped with cream and butter, flavored with a hint of chive and paprika, and Hermione found herself quaffing the lot of them. The peas were interspersed with celery and carrot, and had a hint of onion flavor as well. The leeks were greasy and hot, and were luscious to tear into, with their strong scent and unusual texture. Then, last, was the taste of the sausages. The sausages given her were chicken with apple and sun-dried tomato, and were exceptionally cooked, plump and hot and when speared they made the slightest sound of deflating, as if it were a subtle balloon. The sausages cut perfectly as Hermione sliced them and brought them to her mouth, and she relished the hearty taste.

All too soon, she was left without any more food in front of her, and she lazily contemplated whether or not she wanted to proceed further in gorging herself.

And as it happened, given her recent gluttonous habits, the result was that she decided yes, she did deserve to eat some more. She did miss lunch that day, after all. Not to mention breakfast.

And so, soon enough, she found herself facing a large bowl of pasta, nearly the size of her arse. It was covered in the sweetest and most delicious Alfredo white sauce, with pine nuts and savory tomato, drizzled with a flavor of pepper and Gorgonzola to make it more dimensional in its flavors, but Hermione could do nothing more than inhale the whole ruddy thing. The food was so thick, and yet so bold, and she ached with every part of her being as she swallowed it all, hungrily.

Then, too soon, she began to feel the telltale pressure on the inside of her belly which alerted her that yes, she was indeed getting far too full. She slurped down the remaining noodles before her tum could protest, and then with a sense of victory, she toddled over to her bed and collapsed upon it, belly up.

She closed her eyes and luxuriated in the sense of completion and satisfaction that warmed her, and her fingers began to knead the soft folds of her belly with her fingers. She felt curious and relaxed, and exploratory, and she relished the lack of urgency. Her warm robe fell open, merely framing her instead of covering her, and it felt soft and cozy beneath her splendidly wide arse.

It was so nice to just *feel* herself in the quiet of her bedroom, alone. The silence seemed to reverberate around her, encompassing her and making her feel acutely aware of everything. There was no sound but the faintest insinuation of the wind outside the windowpanes, and Hermione's own deep breathing. All she could feel and see was in her immediate vicinity. It was gloriously quiet.

She took a deep breath, and fell into a dreamlike reverie. The warmth of her stuffed tum, the smoothness of her soft skin, the way her pudgy fingers played along the sides of her distended, growing belly... it all served to seduce her, make her hunger for something more compelling than even food.

With her fingers aching to exert their power over something more substantial than her mere skin, she found them wandering across the hills and valleys of her tum until they reached the pubic area, where they entered the dense forest she grew there. Her fingers then twisted among her hairs, testing their strength and wending their way through the tendrils, pulling here and stroking there.

It wasn't a stretch of the imagination to extend their attention to her wetter parts. Soon her fingers submerged themselves into the sweet slick place within her labia majora. It was a pleasurable experience, and it definitely felt naughty.

Hermione had done her fair share of masturbation in her life, but she often found herself avoiding it when she was in a relationship. Since being with Severus, she'd rarely had occasion for pleasuring herself. But this particular moment, she couldn't help herself. And that's really what made it feel even more forbidden, salacious, and delightfully dirty.

She had made herself horny simply by the simple act of eating. Horny to the point where she couldn't even wait until her boyfriend came back to please herself. And she couldn't even bring herself to feel guilty about it.

No, her fingers, while out of practice, were quick on the uptake, and soon began to commence stroking that particular area that Hermione found so pleasing and ravishing. She felt spasms of pleasure catch her bated breath, and she spread her legs wider as if to accommodate someone there.

And, despite herself, she began to imagine Erika licking her. Frenziedly, enthusiastically, licking Hermione's pussy clean.

She was completely unaware of what it was she was imagining until she was already well caught up in her fantasy. As she began to realize what was happening, she tried to shut it down. But as she closed her eyes and tried to close her mind to the fantasy, she found it only made it worse.

Erika - a woman she'd known for all of ten minutes, essentially - was a completely verboten person to objectify. She wasn't even nearly as round and plump as Hermione generally liked, which made it all the more interesting.

Hermione had a brief illumination as she orgasmed for the first time - this was probably something to do with jealousy, she rationalized - but it was nonetheless noteworthy. She found there was some tears underneath that orgasm - some pent-up emotion she had been waiting to expend, somehow.

It took her a few minutes of crying into her pillow to start feeling all right again. She realized she really needed the stimulation tonight, for whatever reason.

Then, she took several deep breaths, and began to start up her engine again. She closed her eyes, and continued to rub one out, and her fingers were thick and slick with her own juices.

But as she orgasmed a second time, a bit more vocally than the first time, she heard the front door of her apartment close, and heavy footsteps in the hall.

"Hermione?" came Severus' voice, and with a few unhesitating steps he came to the open bedroom door. His eyes were wide to see Hermione spread across the bed as she was, and he simply raised an eyebrow and smirked.

"Is she alright?" came a feminine voice from behind Severus' bulk, and Severus quickly turned around and deftly hid Erika's eyes in his voluminous chest.

"I think that Hermione's quite all right," said Severus with a grin, trying to maneuver Erika out of eyeshot. "Let's give her some privacy, shall we?"

"Erm," Erika said, not picking up on the hint. She tore herself away from Severus' grasp, and turned her head to see Hermione haphazardly covering herself with her robe. "Oh. Erm. Sorry," she apologized, realizing she'd committed a faux pas, "We thought you were still asleep. He's only been to check on you like twelve times all day."

"Erika!" Severus moaned, proceeding to gently shove his girlfriend out of Hermione's room, "The door."

"Of course," Erika said with an eyeroll. "Sorry again to interrupt you. Take your time and finish."

Hermione reddened - was her activity so obvious that a relative stranger could see what she was doing? - and most determinedly did *not* finish, because that was impolite to do when company was afoot.

Still, as she shoved on a dress and robes and thrust her feet into some house slippers, she was curious what sort of things were in Erika's mind as she'd left the room. And whether or not Erika had any interest in playing with Hermione, the way Hermione was interested in playing with her.

Chapter Text

"I couldn't help but notice," Erika went on as Severus frowned into his mug of tea, "that you've got very lovely skin on your upper thighs, Hermione."

Erika seemed bound and determined to make this experience as awkward as possible, Hermione felt. She felt frumpy and somehow old as she sat in front of the fire, feet against the grate, unwinding her latest knitting disaster. Erika was sharing biscuits between the two magical people, and Hermione was eating them as fast as Erika could get them out of the package.

"It almost makes me wonder," Erika went on, joyfully saucy, her eyes glinting with intrigue, "what it'd taste like?"

"That's enough," said Severus, and he was blushing furiously red. He seemed to be quite the fish out of water, and was unable to get a hold of the situation. It must have been so uncomfortable for him, that suave manager of human dynamics, forced to crumble beneath the whims of two women flirting with each other.

Wait. Hermione's brain nearly popped out of her skull. Did she really tell herself that she was *flirting* with Erika?

But there it was, that was the truth. And the truth was exhilarating.

Hermione tried her best to keep a straight face as she tried to think of an appropriate... nay, inappropriate response.

"It takes one to know one, I suppose," Hermione said, trying to keep her tone carefully neutral.

But Erika knew better, and her eyes were dancing. She pushed some more biscuits towards Hermione's waiting hand. "Severus," Erika crooned, sitting back and smiling at their mutual boyfriend, "I can't believe you didn't tell me what a sex dumpling you had."

"Well." Severus didn't seem to have a cogent response at the tip of his tongue, for once in his life, and Hermione scooped him.

"The feeling is mutual," said Hermione, pleased to have effectively thrown the ball back to Erika for a repartee.

Erika simply grinned in response. They didn't have to overdo it.

Frankly, there were a lot of things happening in this situation. First, attraction. Hermione was instinctively attracted to Erika in a very carnal way. Second, convenience. Erika was convenient, she was here, and moreover she was already fucking Severus. (Hermione had slyly confirmed by a whispery glance at Severus' trousers, which were distinctly rumpled in such a way as suggested he'd had them off in the recent past.) Third, availability. Hermione knew without a doubt that Erika was available. Not only was she already fucking Hermione's boyfriend, she was polyamorous. And Hermione was interested in seeing what exactly that meant.

It is important for the sake of this story that we clarify the following: Hermione, at this stage of her life, had never fulfilled a sexual relationship with a girl. She'd been too timid to respond positively to Ginny Weasley's fey experimentations during the TriWizard cup, and ever since, well, Hermione had endured several feminine crushes, but not actively pursued any of them beyond trying to suggest good books for them to read. (Usually this was not well reciprocated and only further bolstered her appearance of being a swotty bookworm, and not in a good way.)

Hermione had, at this point, only made it past the stage of her attraction to women where she had figured out that flirting was something she could do with women, and should do with women if she intended to pursue any, ever. She had not, however, figured out the logistics of such things - including how to get a woman in her bed. Indeed, for reasons mostly relating to convenience, Hermione ended up with men a good deal of the time. Men were simply easier to come by, and more likely to demonstrate interest in her.

So for Hermione to be on the receiving end of flirting with a woman was particularly exciting and new.

Unfortunately for Hermione, she was a bit prone to assuming that polyamorous was the same as unbridled slut (and I use that word in a reclaiming, victorious, empowering fashion). Which assumption has some bearing on this chapter.

In any case, Hermione was interested, Erika seemed interested, and all was right in the world.

I wish I could say that they simply all tumbled into bed together after this - Erika to lick Hermione's soft thigh skin, and vice versa, and Severus to put his head between their two cunts and pleasure them until they moaned in unison - but unfortunately for us (at least for the moment), Hermione's parents still were in the picture. And they certainly were not interested in partaking in, or witnessing, such activities. (This was something that Hermione was 99% sure about.)

In any case. Hermione sat there in front of the fire, rolling her tongue over biscuits that she chewed slowly whilst relishing, and teasing apart the latest horror of mess that had emerged from her knitting basket. Erika sat, cross-legged, on the rug, with a book in her hand that she was only half-reading. And Severus sat on the couch, his laptop hovering in front of him, a hand resting on his ponderous belly while he read from online journal articles.

This was how Rachel and Oliver found them all when they came to visit for dinner.

"How are you after your sleep?" asked Hermione of both her parents, whose jetlagged selves had been put to bed as well since their arrival.

"Ah, much better, splendid," said Oliver, sitting down next to Severus on the couch immediately. "I'm glad to have had a bit of shut-eye. Rachel, dear, how are you feeling?"

"Have been better," Rachel said. She looked even more intense than earlier, with a deeply furrowed brow and narrowed eyes. "Didn't sleep much."

"It's hard getting acclimated to this soggy old island again," Oliver said smoothly, trying to make up for his wife's brusqueness.

This interaction set the tone for much of the evening. Oliver was placating, doddering, and sometimes even beseeching. Rachel seemed to become harder and more cold with every passing minute.

It finally escalated to the point where Rachel seemed inclined to bite the heads off everyone who approached her for anything, and Oliver seemed profoundly troubled by his wife's agitated behavior.

"So I hope you'll be coming with us tomorrow," Rachel said, "back to the old house."

Hermione looked startled. "Erm. The old house. It actually was sold some time ago. I couldn't do anything; the bank repossessed it since I couldn't pay the mortgage."

"You shipped us off to Australia," Rachel said, her eyes burning, "and you couldn't be bothered to pay the mortgage?"

Of course, at the time that this had all happened, Hermione had been scared out of her wits and in constant peril, living in hiding in the forest of Dean. But Hermione didn't know how she could explain that to her parents.

Instead of responding, she just stared into her plate. It was looking a bit empty, so she compulsively reached for a serving spoon to get some more rice.

"I knew it," Rachel said with a sense of finality, "I knew it. How... classically irresponsible of you, Hermione. You ship us off to Australia and you don't even bother keeping the home that your father and I worked to own for so many years."

"I mean," Hermione said, squirming, "you still have plenty of money, right? Trust me, mum, if there was a way where I could save the house, I would have, but-"

"-And all for what?" Rachel interrupted fiercely, standing up. "For the sake of living in a magic castle?"

Hermione was stunned. Is that all her mother had been able to process in the past twelve hours? She'd told them about the war, about fighting for justice, about how she'd been on the front lines helping her friend win a major war, about how they'd nearly starved to death in the woods and she was tortured by evil Death Eaters as a prisoner of war... and her mother thought she cared about a ruddy castle?

"Well, Hermione, we have seen your magic castle," Rachel said, her head sitting proudly upon her shoulders. "You have introduced us to your professors, and to your boyfriend - in the same stroke, which was genius." Rachel had a bit of a smirk in her voice, though her face betrayed no such emotion. "And now when we ask you, what do we do now, you tell us we can do anything we want - because no matter what, you are going to let us wend out own ways to our graves, and how we get there doesn't matter to you."

Hermione's eyes were wide. She had never, ever seen this much anger in her mother before. And she had no idea what to say. She cast a worried glance at Severus, who appeared thoughtful. She also looked at Erika, who merely looked worried.

Rachel went on, "You get what you deserve, Hermione. And what you deserve is to be alone until you eat yourself to death."

Hermione had no idea what to say to all this, but Severus had heard enough, and he was quick to throw a stupefy at Rachel. This meant that Hermione's mum was paralyzed, unable to speak or move.

Severus approached her carefully even so, as if expecting her to snap out of her binding. He cast a wand over her mother's skull, and gently cast an illuminating spell. Rachel's brain became visible, lit up in different colors like in a biology textbook.

"Erika," called Severus, staring closely at the visual. He gestured at one particular section and colored it brighter with his wand. "This is the area related to paranoid ideation, am I correct?"

"Of course," Erika responded, looking over Severus' thick meaty shoulder. "And it's bright as all get out."

"Yes," Severus said with a wince. "I'm going to attempt to repeat the procedure we worked on together to isolate the items in her brain."

He proceeded to whisk around different aspects of Rachel's brain like he was unwrapping a very complicated present, with layer upon layer of paper. He puzzled over it for several minutes until he identified what he seemed to be looking for.

"Ah," he said calmly, "see this?"

He gestured in a haphazard motion. Both women stepped forward, realizing as they did so that they both knew Severus' tics and how to respond to them. Erika looked into Hermione's eyes and grinned delightedly. Erika's large brown eyes were wide and intelligent, and her lips pulled apart so invitingly. Hermione found herself relaxing into a brief fantasy about flirting with them.

That is, until Severus pulled her physically over to look inside her mother's brain.

"This is the area that is activated when your mother thinks of her husband," Severus said, pointing to a large mass of neural connections colored in hues of red, pink, and purple. "And this is the area that is activated when your mother thinks of you." He gestured at an even larger set of neural networks that were those same colors in the center of the most dense areas, but were mostly glowing a dull, swampy green. It looked like a moldy hamburger that needed some more time on the grill. "There is a difference, I'm sure you see."

Hermione nodded, and a lump of dread began to grow in her throat. "She hates me," she said, feeling small and vulnerable as it began to dawn on her what kind of permanent damage had been done.

"It's a perfectly logical biological mechanism," Severus said, not skipping a beat. "I've seen this before in other long term memory modified persons. Do you understand how a memory charm works from a biological standpoint? It's fascinating.

"Memory storage is nearly infinite, though a good amount of what we think of as memory is only a fraction of the actual memory content we contain. Muscle memory is one of those key areas that is rarely addressed in school, and that's by design - it's far more dangerous to mess with that, since it relates to the autonomic functions like breathing. But I digress.

"Memory is essentially infinite. A memory charm does not destroy the memories targeted - it merely shuts down the areas of the brain where these memories are stored. Eglantine Spengler is one of the few academic witches who bothers to toy around with muggle technology, and she identified that when certain shut down areas of the brain are stimulated, those memories are shown to be present, just suppressed.

"However, just as with Alzheimer's patients, the longer areas of the brain are suppressed, the more likely it is that they will never be activated again. The memories trapped there grow harder and harder to access, until they become nearly completely untraceable. This is why memory charms have the illusion of wiping someone's memory completely, even though this simply is a misnomer.

"Shutting down tiny areas of the brain on sporadic occasions rarely has an effect. However, there can be cumulative damage compiled when there is a sufficient quotient of repeated exposure, exposure dosages, and exposure duration."

"It's like radiation," Erika explained concisely. Hermione just nodded, mutely. She looked at her father, who had pressed his face against his hands and was staring sadly at his wife as she remained frozen and incapacitated.

"On top of that," Severus went on, "The person whose magic was used to alter the person's mind damages the very chemical makeup of the brain. A small dose of memory modification won't hurt you, and is relatively simple to heal. However, a more serious alteration will leave more drastic damage. This damage will usually result in one of two diametric symptoms: pathy or antipathy, depending on the way the neurochemicals of the invader's brain correspond with the neurochemicals of the invaded person's brain. Compounded with the amount of time, this damage can spread like rot. In this case, your mother's toxic brain is poisoning areas unrelated to the point of entry that you used, which was her memory center related to you. It's slowly spreading. One of the ways that it's already changed her brain is that it's mutated some of the matter of her brain, converting it to something that is at least genetically very similar to paranoia. A portion of the damaged matter is surrounding the point of entry, as I already described."

"So what does that all mean?" asked Oliver, sounding pathetic and sad.

"It means that Rachel has sustained some serious and likely irreversible damage to certain parts of her brain containing associations with Hermione," Severus said, and he appeared somewhat apologetic and less clinical as he met her eyes.

"Irreversible?" Hermione asked, and she began to realize that she could see where Severus was heading with this line of reasoning. "What does that mean, exactly?"

"There's only one way to stave off a complete psychotic takeover of her brain," Severus said, "and that's to contain the rotted area and seal it up again, make it inaccessible to her so that it stops the spread. It's almost cancerous in how it proceeds, so it needs to be done swiftly."

"Then go ahead," Oliver said, standing up and approaching his wife. He reached out and touched her hand, and seemed surprised that it was warm. "She isn't herself."

"What does that mean, though?" Hermione asked. "Will she see me as a stranger again?"

"I'm not an expert on this," Severus said, but his face read clearly that he knew something terrible that he wasn't willing to share, "so we'd best take her to St. Mungo's for help."

Hermione nodded glumly. She felt a certain warmth near her hand, and she saw that Erika was offering her hand to hold. Hermione took it, not sure how to respond otherwise.

Chapter Text

Hermione ended that day in bed with Erika. Not in the way you might be expecting, and not in the way I have been hoping. But it was the right way, for the moment, and that was all there was to it.

Hermione, Severus, and Erika returned from St. Mungo's with Oliver in tow. It was very late at night at this point, and they returned via the floo to Hermione's sitting room. Severus was deeply withdrawn into himself, barely saying a word to anyone, collapsing into the sofa and tucking his head down and gazing in front of him through the greasy strands of his hair.

Erika seemed unable to decide what to say, and instead kept asking each person in the group if they were all right, to the point where it was nearly annoying. She looked a bit on edge, and disinclined to relax.

Oliver seemed excessively weary, and Hermione began to realize how old he seemed. There was a stiffness to his walk that she couldn't remember, and a slowness of his processing speed that belied some additional damage to his own brain from the severe and long-lasting memory charms.

"I hope she'll be all right there, alone," Oliver said, looking sad. He dabbed his eyes on his shirt-sleeve for the fifth time and Severus, with some annoyance, drew a handkerchief out of his sleeve and nearly threw it at the older man. Erika intercepted it and gently offered it to Oliver. Then, as he accepted it tearfully, he caught Hermione's eye. And the poorly-affected strength he'd adopted crumbled completely in an instant, and soon he was grasping Hermione tightly, sobbing on her shoulder as she rubbed his back.

She'd never had to comfort her father before. He was truly crying like a little child. What had happened to them? Hermione could scarcely guess.

The weight of guilt had been settling upon her even more and more heavily throughout the evening as the troupe had gone to St. Mungo's and checked Rachel into the Ward for Unfortunate Muggles. She'd been given calming potions and sedated, though that didn't stop her suspicious scowl towards Hermione whenever Hermione entered the room.

Indeed, Hermione was deeply afraid that her mother was irrevocably changed. How could her mother reject her so forcefully, and so mindlessly? It was so irrational. And all the things she'd said - trust me, dear readers, you don't want to have read everything the woman said to Hermione, nor do I wish to write them - they stuck in a place deep inside Hermione's heart.

Now, instead of thinking of her parents as benevolently meddlesome and pushy, but enthusiastically supportive of her success... now she was having to sort out the idea that her parents were perhaps not as good of people as she thought they were. Or, at least, this was true of her mother. Her father, poor soul... she had no idea what to think of what was happening to him.

No, Hermione was now thinking about Neville, and his parents, and their mental states. They were affected by memory spells - deeply malevolent ones, among other tortures - and now were permanently in St. Mungo's due to their inability to care for themselves. She didn't think the same fate would come to her parents... but what if it did?

Hermione had things to talk about with Neville, that was for sure.

So Hermione was hugging her father, and with every sob her own heart broke over and over again. The reason he was like this was because of *her* and the fact that she'd tried to do too much with too few skills and resources.

Yes, Hermione reasoned with herself, that was probably why she hadn't fetched her parents from Australia a lot sooner. She must have had an inkling that once she did, she'd have to face the facts that she'd taken on too much, and made costly errors as a result.

Errors that might have, in fact, cost her at least one of her parents.

.........

Soon, Oliver fell asleep on the couch. He clearly didn't want to be left alone, and Hermione transformed said couch slightly wider and had the house elves bring fresh linens for him, so it was quite comfortable. She asked Minty to keep an eye on him during the night, lest he need her kindness. Minty agreed that she might be of service to him, and that was that.

She quietly retreated to the bedroom with Erika and Severus once Oliver had closed his eyes.

"Are we going to say anything to your father?" hissed Severus as he quietly closed the door.

Hermione just numbly shook her head. She felt such despair over the situation - why did it have to be this way? And why did it have to be *her* fault?

Hermione was no stranger to feeling guilt, but this experience was simply the worst she had ever endured.

Severus seemed to see her blank response, and he rolled his lips more tightly and looked pleadingly at Erika, seeking a cue.

"You don't seem all right," Erika said, finally confident enough to decide that Hermione needed her own emotions to be translated to her. "Lay down."

Not needing to be told twice, Hermione lay on the bed, and closed her eyes. She felt like she needed to sleep for at least twelve hours.

"Do you mind if I lay next to you?" Erika asked, and Hermione just made a noise in the negative, keeping her eyes closed.

She felt the brush of satin as the other woman got in the bed with her, and soon she felt a tentative warm hand approaching hers.

"Do you mind if I hold your hand?" Erika asked, and Hermione indicated this would be all right. Soon one of Erika's hot, soft hands were wrapped around her own, and she felt Erika's other hand floating over her shoulder.

"Would you like a hug?" Erika asked, and Hermione just nodded yes.

Then Erika wrapped herself around Hermione. The other girl was deceptively soft and squishy in ways that Hermione relished; while she really was more pudgy than fat, Erika was a pleasure to be embraced by.

The warm and coconut scent of Erika made Hermione want to relax into her own sobbing.

"Do you mind if I tell you something?" Hermione asked, and Erika grunted in the affirmative.

"Even if it's really bad?"

Again, Erika affirmed in the positive.

Hermione began to cry at this, and she began to choke as she tried to suppress her own sobs.

She noticed vaguely that the bed creaked near her foot, and she felt Severus ease himself down at the end of the bed and stretch out. She couldn't get a read on him right now, and she didn't care.

"What is it?" Erika prompted, and Hermione buried her face in Erika's shoulder.

"I'm feeling so deeply guilty about this," Hermione confessed. "My parents... they've changed. And as we know, on a biological level. They literally aren't the same anymore, because of me. And I think I just... left them there... even though I knew that I had overextended myself when I did all those memory modification charms and even though I knew I'd put them in great danger."

"Shh," Erika said, and Hermione felt Erika rocking slightly, back and forth. "It's called cognitive dissonance, or post-hoc rationalization, or whatever. And it's all right. If you were a computer then I'd be concerned, but this is a foible unique to human beings. I've done the same sort of thing a lot."

"But ever of this scope?" Hermione asked dramatically, feeling a fresh wave of tears emerge.

"...perhaps not," Erika said, wisely not trying to engage Hermione in some convoluted and irrelevant story, "but Severus has."

"Thanks, Erika," drawled Severus, and it became clear to Hermione that he was raptly attending to every word. She opened her eyes and looked down the bed, and she saw him laying across the bed, looking immensely casual as he propped up his head on his folded elbow. His belly jutted forward with a sense of careless pride, and at any other moment she'd want to eat him up - particularly given the intense way he was staring at her.

But at the moment, Hermione could no more think of sex than commit it, and she drew Erika in a tighter embrace. "I guess so," Hermione acknowledged, and she felt Severus readjust himself and touch her foot. Her foot was covered in blankets, but he grasped it firmly, and began to massage it through the quilt. It was quite comforting and cozy.

Hermione drew a few deep breaths. "But I don't know what to do now," she said, and as she voiced this fear, her sobs bubbled up again, and she began to cry outright. "My dad cried today. I've never seen him cry before. What do I do now? And my mother might never speak to me again because she's suffering delusions that I'm a monster. What can I do?"

"Nothing," Severus said, and pressed his lips against the top of Hermione's foot to kiss her. "And that's the tough bit. We have to wait for the evals to be done tomorrow by the specialist, and until then, we merely wait."

"But what if I *am* a monster?" Hermione asked, and she began to sob incoherently in Erika's shoulder.

Severus heaved himself up - Hermione felt the bed creak underneath him - and moved himself up to cuddle Hermione on the other side. "This talk I will not tolerate," he said firmly. "Hermione, not only are you the most intelligent and most hard-working witch of your generation, you've made an impact on the world incomparable to anyone else I've ever met. And your humility and good humor are still intact, which is more than I can say for lesser wizards."

He pronounced this last word with significant distaste, and Hermione could read between the lines that he meant Harry and Ron, but was holding himself back, for her.

She felt his breath against her neck, and his arm drape below the curve of her luscious tum, and she felt the way his soft, sumptuous body melded against her like a warm soft lump of clay against a mold.

She responded by holding Erika closer, and as she moved slightly away from him, he tightened his own grasp on her, following her across the few inches of the bed until he was just as firmly holding her.

Hermione didn't say several of the things that she was feeling that night - that she wasn't worth it, that she was a terrible person for doing what she had done to her parents and being so cavalier about it, that she was so burdened with guilt that she was physically pained - but somehow Severus and Erika persevered and clasped Hermione until she drifted off into an uncomfortable and unhappy sleep.

............

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Predictably, after so much extra sleep during the rest of the day, Hermione found herself awoken at two in the morning. She stared up at the ceiling for a few minutes. It was charmed to take on the ombre of the night sky outside, giving a subtle suggestion that one was sleeping out of doors. It glittered at her, indicating that it was probably clear outside, with sighting of stars.

She was well wedged in between Severus and Erika, and Erika had one arm draped around Hermione, holding her tight, while Severus was turned towards the wall, but as if to make up for it, his foot had snaked around her ankle, and he was also hugging a pillow profoundly.

Hermione unwound herself from Erika's arm, feeling a desperate need to use the bathroom, and she saw Severus' head turn abruptly. His eyes met hers, though she only knew from the slight glisten where they caught the light of the moon from outside.

"Been a ruddy awful day, hasn't it?" Hermione whispered, as Severus slipped out from under the covers to allow her exit. "How are you faring?"

"Not well," he responded carefully, "mostly bored, though. I swear I've been staring at that wall for an hour."

"I'm sorry, that sucks," Hermione said quietly, getting up from the bed. She was satisfied with the little extra heave she had to put into that particular operation - her belly was starting to get in the way of things like standing up from sitting. "I need to use the loo - do you want to play a game or something in the main room?"

He frowned, as if he'd had something else in mind entirely, but on the face of it he agreed, "Certainly. Whatever you'd like to do."

She could hear him practically screaming that he wanted something else, but whatever it was could wait.

She dashed on tiptoe into the bathroom, completed her ablutions, and returned to the main room where Severus had pulled out the chess board charm and was impatiently waiting for her to make the first move.

"We don't have to play if you don't want to," Hermione said, sitting down on the sofa next to him instead of at the opposite side of the board. "Penny for your thoughts?"

He appeared initially disgruntled at the change in plans; perhaps he was not as awake as he thought he was. In either case, he let his arm drape around her shoulders, and he sighed, letting his head turn down and his hair fall along his cheeks, hiding his eyes and framing his chubby face.

"I'm glad you're getting on with Erika so well," he said, after several moments where he seemed to fight with himself about what he wanted to say. "But I'm worried that you're upset that I left with her while you were sleeping earlier."

Hermione did a quick mental check-in with herself about this. She'd been lonely, true, but not really upset. Also according to Erika, he'd come to check on her an excessive amount, which was probably because of his feeling guilty. But it wasn't an unproductive loneliness; she'd pleasured herself like she imagined they had been doing, and while it was somewhat alienating, it was also relaxing, and the neurochemicals she'd earned then had helped her cope with the rest of the tumultuous day.

"Don't worry," she reassured him, wrapping her arms around his waist and appreciating the way his multiple rolls of belly sloshed and jiggled as she pressed against him. His muscles seemed tense, as if he'd been ruminating on this for hours. "I wasn't jealous. I needed to get off, so I did, and while I was a little bit lonely, it ended up being exactly what I needed."

She felt his diaphragm expand underneath her arm, and he seemed to relax just the smallest bit. But not entirely. "Thank you," he said softly, not looking at her. He stared straight ahead at where the chess board emanated indigo and blue light, the only light in the room.

Hermione, for her part, simply drew back his hair - it was in some ways one of Severus' juvenile habits that she'd began to see him doing more frequently as he let her get closer to him. He could be honest with her, unlike the rest of the world, but sometimes that vulnerability meant that he needed to hide his face - and she kissed him on his soft cheek, letting her lips linger, breathing on his gentle (if somewhat chronically oily) skin.

Severus' body began to tense in a distinctly different way, and then he smirked, and looked straight into her eyes. They were close enough that his angular nose was just a hair's breadth away from her own.

Hermione, for her part, relished the intense spike of adrenaline she got whilst waiting for him to kiss her. He held off for several minutes more than she could have - his breathing was steady, but she could see he was trying to keep himself from pursuing her lips, to build up the momentum.

Then, the exact moment that Hermione felt she couldn't wait anymore, she blinked and he pressed his lips into hers. He was hot, and rough, and he nipped and sucked at her lower lip with passionate energy.

This kind of game meant that he'd been very horny for a very long time. Chances are he never fully got to sleep, Hermione mused as her hand wandered down south below Severus' massive belly overhang, given the hardness and eagerness of his cock.

He moaned as she touched him, grasping his cock through the fabric of his nightgown. "Gentle," he admonished through his pleasurable noise, "I won't last long, and I'm close to the edge now." In a more seductive tone he added, "Just feeling your incredible bosom pressed against me has got me entirely too excited."

Hermione raised her eyebrow, and pecked him on the cheek with a kiss. "What would you have me do instead?"

In response, he pressed his lips against hers once more. This was a short kiss, and then he kissed her on either side of her delicate mouth. Even these kisses were strong, full of conviction and flavor. They were enough to make anyone woozy and giddy.

"I've got something fairly important to attend to first," he said.

Without another word, he threw off Hermione's grasp and struggled his body into sitting on the floor.

"Open wide," he said with a grin, and it took her several minutes to realize that what he wanted was to *pleasure* her, not examine her. Though examining was indeed part and parcel of their usual practices!

She then proceeded to remove her own pyjama pants, which were pleasingly tight around the middle and she had to squeeze herself out of them. It was particularly difficult because she was bound and determined not to move her fat arse from the seat of the sofa. She grabbed the unhappy elastic of the waist and yanked over one buttock cheek, then with some maneuvering managed to get the other one off as well.

Severus, for his part, was already as deep into her crotch as he could get. He was on all fours - the only way he was going to be able to access her where she sat, given the ponderousness of his belly would get in the way. Once she got the trousers off the butt, he yanked with his teeth. It was incredibly sexy to watch him drag it off her feet, like a huge fat dog, even though he pulled a few of her hairs.

Soon her clothing was discarded, and he was having his way with her clit and labias, sucking and biting and licking, licking, *licking,* *LICKING...*

"Oh fuck," Hermione cried out, moaning with pleasure and ecstasy as he brought her to climax. He kept at it like a workhorse, not giving up or even slowing down for a moment.

Hermione found herself practically screaming, "Merlin's balls thank heaven oh gods!" as she climaxed again, a rush of hormones coursing through her body as she relaxed into the pleasure she could scarcely contain.

But then, suddenly, Severus stopped just as she was about to get over a third orgasm, and Hermione begged, "No, now is not the time for teasing, keep going, keep going!"

"Yeah," she heard a feminine voice answer from the bedroom door. "Keep going."

Severus appeared somewhat confused, but as Erika added, "Go on!" he began to do as he was told. There was less fervor to it, but that was all right. Hermione was too abashed to enjoy it.

"I'm sorry, Erika," she said, feeling like a terrible hostess, "I'm... I'm so sorry. Did we wake you up?"

"Yeah," Erika said, "but my sleep's all fucked up anyway with the time zone change. Besides, I should be thanking you - sounds like things are too exciting out here to miss!" She paused. "Unless you'd prefer some privacy. I can go back to bed if you want."

"Oh, erm, no!" Hermione said, and Severus stopped licking abruptly, and sat back on his (plump, delicious, oversized) haunches.

"What?" he asked, and Hermione met his eyes. He had a sense of panic in his eyes, but there was something else - desire?

He cast a glance back at Erika, then back at Hermione, then back at Erika, and then back to Hermione. And then he seemed to come to some inner conclusion. "I suppose, if you like, I have no objections."

Then, with a sense of pride, he began to lick Hermione with renewed effort. He seemed likely to burn out a bit soon, though - she felt drops of sweat fall on her buttery thighs from his brow. He was really too fat to be good a this for very long, and she was impressed with how far he'd trooped.

"Let me give you a rest, dear," Erika said, and Hermione felt Erika sit on the ground next to Severus with a thump. Severus, for his part, gave a final flick to Hermione's clit with his tongue, and he sat back again, panting hard. "Hermione, do you mind if I pick up where he left off?" Erika asked, and Hermione nearly swooned at the thought.

"Erm, yes, please," Hermione said, and she felt her body tense up with anticipation.

Erika's tongue was smaller than Severus', more dainty. Her lips were more soft, though, and she seemed to prefer quality of strokes to quantity; she had a way of waiting just a tiny second or two between strokes, which left Hermione ravenous for more.

Erika wasn't an amateur at working with the vaginal equipment, that was for sure!

Hermione found herself flooded with beautiful sensations and feelings. Severus' cunnilingus was robust and effortful, like a reliable engine. Erika's was more like a dance, full of artistic effortlessness that made Hermione squirm. She didn't necessarily prefer one over the other - in fact, at some moments Erika's was slightly annoying because of how unstable and unpredictable it was - but bring her to climax it did, and Hermione found herself riding a rush like she'd never had before.

Erika pulled back as Hermione screamed with pleasure, and she patted Hermione's delicious thighs. "Mind if I continue putting my mouth to good use?" asked Erika warmly, and all Hermione could do was nod consent.

Erika's fingers were exploratory and well practiced. Her tongue seemed like it wanted to taste every morsel of Hermione's thighs. She licked and nibbled at Hermione's soft flabbiness, pulling at it here and there.

In short order, Erika made her way up to Hermione's breasts.

"You should know," Erika sad as she pressed her face between Hermione's breasts, "I've wanted to touch these since first I saw you."

"Oh gods," Hermione responded as Erika's lips latched on to one of her nipples, and it was sucking ravenously. Her left hand clasped Hermione's other boob, or so Hermione thought - until she realized that there was another pair of lips on her other breast.

She opened her eyes from where she was reeling with pleasure, and in her dreamlike state she saw Severus had taken up a post on her left breast whilst Erika worked the one on the right.

Hermione had never, ever experienced anything like this before - and she figured she probably never would again, so she might as well enjoy it.

This was certainly enough excitement to put her to sleep, and when one of her lovers put their mouth down under for a final takeoff, Hermione felt like it'd nearly been too much. She felt utterly decadent and spoiled.

Severus' tongue was on her sopping wet cunt, however, and she went along with it until she reverberated with a final earth-shattering climax that topped all the others she'd had that night.

As she recovered, she waved both Severus and Erika away from where they eagerly tried to resume giving attention to Hermione's breasts. "Enough," she beseeched, feeling as high as a kite on a windy autumn's day. "Give me a moment to breathe, you two."

Erika didn't wait a second before rushing Severus, who was panting with his most recent exertions. No sooner was he gasping for breath than he was gasping with pleasure as Erika had found her way underneath the hem of his nightgown to loosen his rock-hard erection with her mouth.

"Oh Merlin," it was his turn to gasp, and he fell backwards from his crouchng position onto the carpet, where he lay prostrate and spread-eagle while Erika sucked at his wily.

As he tumbled over, looking every bit an adorable bear and not at all like a scary famous potions professor, his stomach rumbled audibly. And then, Hermione knew she had a role she could play while Erika teased their boyfriend.

"Mmm," Hermione said, struggling up from the couch. "Let's find something for your hungry tum. That stellar job you did on my cunt cost you a lot of calories."

"Will it be cunt flavored?" asked Severus foggily, and he shuddered with pleasure on the cusp of arriving.

"Not unless you want it to be," Hermione said.

"Please!" he responded urgently.

Well, shit. She wasn't going to be able to do all that much if he wanted it cunt-flavored.

She hurried to the kitchenette, her feet landing with an unfamiliar poundy-ness that was satisfying to hear. She opened the freezer and there sat the unlimited bowl of ice cream that she could have sworn had disappeared.

Well, no matter. She ushured as much as she could into her vagina using the transmutation method he'd taught her, and soon she felt it the sticky vanilla dripping down her legs.

In no time, she was over Severus' face, and though his eyes were closed, it took him no effort at all to reach up and start licking out her ice-cream filled pussy when she hovered over him in a squat.

"Oh gods." Whether the ice cream or the short break had helped rejuvenate her, she wasn't sure, but Severus' tongue was hungry, and he wouldn't stop licking and sucking at her dripping cunt.

The combination of cunt flavored ice cream and Erika's attentions finally drew Severus up the wall, and he orgasmed with a long, shuddering moan that Hermione wasn't entirely accustomed to.

"Oh gods" Severus whimpered again, "Get me some more?" The ice cream was a bit more messy in this position than in the bed when they'd done it, as it kept dripping a lot.

Hermione accio'ed a spoon and the remainder of the bowl - of which there was plenty - and began to spoon it into his greedy mouth.

"You've got quite a bit of space in there," she purred, giving the bowl and spoon into Erika's accommodating hands. Hermione then moved down to hover over Severus' enormous belly. "But is it enough for all the ice cream in that bowl?"

"There is," moaned Severus between bites, "there is."

"Hmm," Hermione said, and she began to scrutinize him; through his nightgown it was inconvenient, but she drew it up and rested the hem of it on top of his large tummy, below his flopping breasts. Then his stomach reigned with its immense glory, and Hermione bent down to worship it.

"It seems like you might," Hermione said teasingly, "but sometimes I worry, Severus, that your eyes might be bigger than your stomach."

Severus just snorted in response - Erika wasn't giving him much chance to say anything between her swift offerings of ice cream on the spoon.

"Hmm," Hermione said, poking his belly with one finger and letting her finger sink as deeply as she could manage into Severus' flab. "You do have quite a bit of stomach here, dear. Have you thought about perhaps going on a diet?"

"What," said Severus, "are you saying I'm fat?"

"Well, yes, actually," Hermione confessed, pretending sadness. Erika laughed. "I think you've gotten a bit too ample around the tum, Severus - and eating ice cream is only going to make you fatter."

"Oh well," he responded, and slurped at the spoon audibly. "As you said, I'm fat. Nothing's going to change that."

Hermione responded by putting her hands on top of his belly and moving her hands in a relaxing motion, pressing against the sides of his stomach, helping to move around the contents of his tum and make it easier to squeeze down the last bit of ice cream.

Severus, for his part, was eating as if he hadn't eaten all day, and Hermione was impressed by the amount Erika efficiently fed to him.

Soon enough, the ice cream was gone.

"Damn," Severus said, and belched. He had never done that before without covering his mouth and hiding it with embarrassment, that Hermione could recall - this one he bore proudly, as he might a battle scar. "I'm still quite peckish."

"See," Hermione said, laboriously standing up, "you just ate enough to feed an entire army barracks, and what do you want? More! How are you ever going to lose weight this way, Severus?"

"I won't, I imagine," Severus said, and Hermione saw Erika move to rub his belly in Hermione's stead.

Hermione, for her part, went to the kitchen and found some biscuits in a tin, and some strawberry preserves. She proceeded to bring over the entire tin and jar over to Severus, and she dipped one biscuit in jam and put it into his mouth before he could snark at her some more.

"Mmm," was all he could say, as he chewed hungrily.

All remained quiet for the next quarter hour, as Hermione stuffed Severus' mouth every second, and Erika relaxed Severus' increasingly bloated tum.

Finally, after reaching nearly the end of the biscuit tin, Severus covered his mouth with his hand and shook his head. It was the signal that he'd eaten more than he should have, and couldn't speak until it compressed a little bit in his overstuffed tum.

"Good work," Hermione said, as Erika continued to rub Severus' belly. "You...seemed a little quiet."

Erika grinned in response. "Yeah, well, this is something I can file under as 'your kink not mine,' but I'm happy to do what I can. I wish I could say I wasn't surprised when Sev told me about it this afternoon - I mean, medication makes people gain weight, but his weight ballooned to unreal proportions, you know? So I should have been able to figure it out, particularly since there's a lot of little clues he left me over the years to try and get me to see... it all makes sense, but I couldn't have guessed on my own."

"Mmmmph," growled Severus with his mouth closed. There was a certain peacefulness about him, though, that Hermione hadn't detected before. He was replete and lazy, and overstuffed with food, and he had two beautiful women to take care of him, it seemed.

Oh. Thinking about it that way, Hermione could see why he liked this so much. Feeding him was a way of taking care of him - something that, apparently, he craved, after so many years of alienation and loneliness.

Hermione didn't mind taking care of him, as long as he could do the same for her sometimes.

Chapter Text

Severus lazed about, his overstuffed stomach protruding above him like a monument to his gluttony, and he lay there with his eyes closed, replete with satisfaction.

Hermione couldn't help but keep touching him, and her hands roved over the tautness of his belly, feeling the way his skin stretched to accommodate the vast quantities of dessert he'd engulfed.

Then she realized that she had missed something - Erika was sitting, as stony as a cat observing prey, and even in the dark, Hermione could see that there was the hint of sadness about her features.

"It's your turn," Hermione said, patting Severus' stomach one final fond time, and she hoisted herself up, using the side of the couch as support. She was rather hungry herself now, but she put that aside for the moment. Erika needed some attention, particularly after her willingness to indulge the two of them so deeply in a kink that she didn't share. "How can I best pleasure you, if you want me to?"

Erika took a deep breath of relief, as if she'd worried that no one would ask her. "I mean," she said, looking at Severus outstretched on the floor, "What I'd like most of all is a firm hard fucking from our friend here -" And then she poked Severus' big belly with a smirk. "But I don't think that's likely to happen. Will you do the honor instead?"

Hermione frowned. "Erm, how, exactly?"

Erika's eyebrows shot up with interest. "You mean, you've never used a strap-on before?"

Hermione had to sadly agree.

Erika huffed a bit. "I expect it'd be too much to hope that you even *have* a strap on."

Hermione was about to respond - of course she didn't have one, who'd she use it on? - but was interrupted by Severus, who answered in a mumbly fashion, "I do."

"Ah," Erika said, and made eye contact with Hermione. Hermione felt that Erika was trying to make some educated guesses. Then, looking a bit pleased with herself, Erika said with an even greater smirk, "So Sev hasn't told you how much of a little slut he is for anal, has he?"

"What?" Hermione asked, finding herself laughing at the preposterous idea of Severus being a little slut in any sense of the word.

"Not yet," admitted Severus, and with great effort, he sat up, and he rolled his eyes. "Oh, don't look so amused, Granger. You know what they say - once you've tasted crack, you never go back."

"I think you made that up, dearheart," chortled Erika, who was finding the proceedings even more hilarious than Hermione did. "Because I don't know anyone else who says that."

"Same difference," Severus said with a shrug of his beautifully rounded shoulders. There was a sense of quiet shamelessness about this confession, perhaps even pride. "But I never like it on a full stomach, and with Hermione, that's a rare occurrence indeed."

"What can I say?" Hermione said, a bit of pride entering her own voice. "I like to keep my men well fed."

"I think that's obvious," Erika said, her eyes twinkling. "So, Hermione, do you want to have a go at fucking me with a strap-on?"

The way she said it was so casual, as if she'd said, "So, Hermione, do you want to have a go at this light-hearted friendly croquet match?"

And, well, to be frank, it was a very inviting invitation. "I'll try it," Hermione said, "though please reserve your high expectations for a future, better practiced me."

"Well, there's some chutzpah," Erika said with a grin. "Sev, where's your toy - and some condoms?"

"My room," he said, attempting to ease himself up off the floor and not having a great deal of success. "But I could use some assistance."

Hermione and Erika both stood, and for the briefest of seconds they hesitated, trying to see which should help their fat-arse boyfriend get his aforementioned fat arse off the ground. But with a sense of mutual decision, they both extended their hands to help him.

"You'll need us both," Hermione said, feeling her own belly pinch with hunger pains. "You're getting too heavy, my dear."

"So you keep telling me," mused Severus with acerbic scorn, but he was poorly hiding a smile.

With a few heaves - and, well, truth be told, there was a little playacting on both Severus' part and the girls' - Severus stumbled into a standing position. Now, he made an effort to be more dignified, and he smoothed out the wrinkles in his flowing nightgown and pulled a silk dressing gown around him. It was barely successful at tying around his protruding belly.

"I'll be back presently," he said, and, slipping his feet into his velvet house slippers, he toddled off to get the items in question.

As soon as the door closed, Erika practically bounded into Hermione's arms.

"Tell me," she said, as she pulled one of the furry throw blankets off the couch and wrapped them around the two of them as they sat on the floor rug, "how ever did you get him so comfortable with his nakedness? It used to be such a struggle just to get him naked - he'd use every conceivable excuse to cover himself up, and hide his body. But ever since I've arrived, I've done sex with him twice, and he didn't hide at all either time."

Hermione felt herself relax into the warmth of the blanket - and the warm coconut smell of Erika's soft arms.

"I don't know," she said softly, "he just never did that with me."

"So," Erika said with a smile, "real talk. May I ask how you two started going out? He only ever answers those kinds of questions with half-answers and evasion, and I'm really quite curious to hear your perspective."

"Oh?" Hermione asked, and was immediately puzzled. Erika had always seemed such an important part of her adult relationship with Severus that it hadn't occurred to her that Erika might be a little more clueless about it than her. "I mean, you were there from the beginning, basically. Severus and I only started being really interested in each other once he apologized at your recommendation for the thing he did back in August."

Erika frowned, clearly also puzzled. "What thing? What recommendation?"

Hermione was deeply surprised that Erika couldn't remember. Did she have some form of amnesia?

But then something clicked into place. "Oh," she said, with a sense of realization. "Oh, that manipulative Slytherin arse."

"What?' Erika asked, and her eyes betrayed no recognition.

"Okay, here's what must have happened," Hermione said, chuckling aloud. "Severus did something back in August that was a violation of professional conduct and trust. It is also something he knew better than to do, and he did it anyway. Whether or not it was voluntary, or not, I don't know. But either way, it resulted in me attempting to file a sexual harassment claim against him, and lucky for him, I got stonewalled by McGonagall, who was trying to ensure that he got a second chance."

Erika looked horrified at all this, and her eyes were wide.

"Well, then the thing is," Hermione said, "he came crawling back to me with apologies, telling me that you'd gotten him to see that what he'd done was egregious and wrong. And he begged for forgiveness in a very convincing fashion. And I gave it to him. And this conversation was what led him to confess that he had a girlfriend, and then he proceeded to flirt shamelessly with me, until he confessed that your arrangement is a non-monogamous one, and that he'd be interested in dating me."

Hermione took a deep breath. "I see now that there must have been something else that made him apologize, since you don't know anything about this."

Erika nodded, seeming a bit spooked at the whole thing.

"What that precisely was," Hermione said, "I don't know. But I suspect that Severus played me. Now the question is - what does all this mean?"

Erika carefully unwound herself from Hermione and stood up. "I'm really not okay with all this," she said, "and we all need to talk about it. Now."

Chapter Text

Severus was startled to see the two women with clothes back on and the lights all brightly shining in the living room of Hermione's flat.

"What's the matter?" he asked, putting down a silken red bag that made a suspicious clunk noise on the table.

"We need to clear up a small matter," Erika said. She'd pulled her kinky hair into a tight bun, held with one of Hermione's spare clips, and she looked very serious and professional as she sat on the sofa next to Hermione, even though she was in her pyjama pants. While Erika radiated strength, Hermione felt like she herself was bleeding a little bit on the inside, and she felt herself melting just a little bit as Severus' look of genuine confusion writ across his face.

He settled down in one of the armchairs opposite the sofa, since clearly he wasn't welcome there, he stared very seriously back at Erika in response. However, the fatigue showed in his face. He was weary, which probably meant he'd cut to the chase and continue to play games, which Hermione was grateful for.

Erika's voice was flat and somewhat aggressive as she said, "Why did you tell Hermione that you'd consulted me in regards to the violation you committed against her back in the beginning of the school year?"

It was clear that Severus had nearly forgotten about the incident - as had Hermione, really - and his face was deeply crestfallen in response.

"I shouldn't have done that," he said with a sense of regret, "And I apologize, Erika."

"Thanks for your apology," said Erika stiffly. "Now, the question is why - and what does it mean?"

Severus eased himself back in his chair, and rested his hands on top of his distended tum. He stroked it a bit, fondly, as he contemplated the two women. Hermione didn't feel inclined to give him an inch, and she stared him down until he gave up. He demonstrated this by tipping his head upward and staring mutely at the ceiling for a few more minutes. Hermione admired the way his neck fat uncreased and stretched, the little ribbons of color gently demarcating the places where his skin folded and rolled. He was breathing deeply, too, and the way his too-full belly moved as he did so was hypnotizing.

But not hypnotizing enough. Neither woman was willing to fall prey to his usual teacher tactic of waiting for the other person to speak first, and thereby lose. Finally he said, and there was a sense of ruefulness to it, "I did it because: I didn't think you'd believe me if I told you, Hermione, that I had reviewed my own actions and found them wanting."

Hermione huffed.

He lowered his chin, and his face was devoid of color and emotion. "Exactly. Just like now, you don't believe me."

Neither Erika nor Hermione was willing to say anything to dignify that with an answer at first. Erika looked like she was evaluating a used car - skeptical, and as if she were disinclined to buy it. For Hermione, the jury was still out. If he was able to cobble together something sufficiently convincing, she might be able to chalk this up to early stage dating games and give it a pass. She felt fairly sure that Severus hadn't made a habit of lying thus far in their relationship.

Too often he simply said he'd prefer not to talk about certain things, and she'd always respected that.

Then again, maybe he had, and she just hadn't noticed. He was a master spy, after all.

Severus looked a trifle older than she usually thought of him, now that she was looking at him in the brighter light. She noticed a stray gray hair or two that she hadn't observed before, but that wasn't all. There was an overwhelming sense of weariness in his spirit, and he looked between the two women. It seemed as if he were calculating something, for the briefest of moments, but then his eyes closed off with the overwhelming silence of occulmency. She recognized it because she'd been practicing it with him, and had gotten to know how his eyes looked when he closed off all his important emotions (the same way he'd done when at the hand of Voldemort).

Shit. If he was occulmencing, that was definitely not good.

"Hey," Hermione said, and stood up, and walked over to him. "Hey."

She extended her hand to meet his. He listlessly gave her his hand, but there was no warmth in his gesture. It was like he were offering a corpse's hand.

"Hey," she said, and she snapped her fingers in front of his eyes. "Come on. Don't panic. I'm not going anywhere."

The snap got him out of the glazed look, and all of a sudden he was back again, and his dark black eyes began to fill.

"How many times do I have to do this?" he asked softly, ducking his head down sharply and hiding his face behind his hair.

At first she thought the question was directed to her. She glanced back at Erika in confusion, but then Severus went on, as the question went unanswered, "How many times do I have to prove that I'm a better person than I once was?"

"What are you talking about?" Erika asked, and she stood up and joined Hermione and Severus. She wasn't quite as warm and responsive as Hermione was to Severus' mood, and indeed she looked a bit like a fish out of water. Or, rather, a fish that had long ago learned how to live above water, but hadn't been above water for quite a while lately, and was emerging again for the first time. Had the world above the ocean changed? In what ways? And how should she adapt?

Hermione, however, was well practiced at comforting Severus, and she knew by now what he was talking about.

"Come on," she soothed, putting a hand on his shoulder and rubbing it slowly, consistently. "This isn't at all like that."

"Isn't it?" he asked, not moving. "A boy does something incredibly stupid and bad, out of panic, towards a girl he fancies, and then when he tries to apologize and tell her he was wrong, she writes him off?"

"Did you really fancy me, at that point?" Hermione asked, inappropriately curious.

"Yesssss," he hissed, and he turned his head up to look into her eyes. "Since that first moment I caught you watching me, when I was stuffing my godawful fat face in the Great Hall."

"So why did you lie in this particular way, though?" Hermione asked, not breaking eye contact. She felt a blush creep up over her cheeks as she remembered that first pivotal moment where Severus was choosing pastries. *He'd put on so many luscious pounds since then,* she thought, *and many of them because of me.* "You went through great lengths to tell me how you changed your mind about the incident. Why bother?"

"Again," he said firmly, his face drooping towards the floor again, "because I have a history of pretty girls not accepting my plain apologies."

"I don't understand," Erika said, shaking her head. "Is this about Lily?"

"Yes," Hermione said, and Severus said at the same time. Severus remained quiet, and Hermione added, "It's pretty much always about Lily."

Severus seemed to refuse to speak any more after this, and Hermione added, "She's the knot that ties everything in his brain together."

Erika sighed. "I guess I knew that, but it's been a while since I was really elbow-deep in Severus' brain about it. I kinda thought it'd gone away."

"Always," Severus said, his voice low and almost growling.

"Well, shit," Erika said, and she put her head in her hands. "Forgive me, my dear, but that's fucking nuts. And I say that in the kindest of ways."

All he could do in response was shrug.

"Well, I think we've done enough of this for one night," Erika said, shaking her head. "I vote we go back to bed, and sort it out later."

"We?" asked Severus, and Hermione's heart broke as she read into the single syllable the connotation - he'd been expecting to be abandoned tonight.

"Yes, you silly goose," Erika said, turning and scooping him up in her arms as well as she could. "It's clear that whatever reason you had to do this shitty thing, it's pretty intense, and I know I'm too tired to deal with this affair tonight. I suspect you all are as well."

Severus didn't respond to her efforts, however - instead he raised his head and stared at Hermione. His eyes were glassy and his breathing was tense. He swiped at his hair with his free hand, pushing some of the front strands behind his ear. "Hermione?"

"Of course," said Hermione, holding him close to her, wrapping her arms around him.

He proceeded to bury himself in her shoulder and cry - huge, breathless sobs. Soon she was pressing him close to her as his tears wet her shoulder, and she rubbed his back and cradled him as best she could from her angle sitting on the arm of the chair. "Shh, shh," she whispered, stroking her hand through his hair. "I think this has been too much, tonight, overall."

"Yeah," Erika said, and yawned. She planted a kiss on Severus' head, and stood. "I'm gonna leave you to it, if that's all right," she said, her voice growing soft. "I... I hope I didn't cause this."

"No, no, hush," Hermione responded, and waved at Erika to return to the bedroom.

Erika proceeded, and in a second, the door was closed, leaving Severus and Hermione alone.

Severus had a lot of tears in him, but soon they died away, and he was hugging Hermione tightly.

"Are you feeling better?" Hermione asked, continuing to stroke his hair.

He didn't answer the question directly, but instead said, without moving from her grasp, "I refuse to lose you. I thought if I said someone else told me to apologize and get my head screwed on straight, you'd believe it better than if I apologized straight off. I've spent so many countless hours thinking of what I could have said to make Lily love me again - and that's the one I settled on as being most likely to work. I thought I'd try it on you, since the opportunity came up."

"So," Hermione said, feeling warm and somewhat humorous despite this draining confession, "you weren't just trying to use any means necessary to get in my pants?"

"Well, the answer to that is yes, somewhat," Severus said. "But only somewhat."

"I'll take it," Hermione answered, and she kissed him on the cheek.

"I... feel so foolish, now," Severus said, pulling away from her, but still holding her hand tightly. "I shouldn't have fallen apart like I did."

"No, don't say that," Hermione said, "it's all right. It's a function of your disease. It's just the way it is."

He sniffed, and rubbed his eyes on the back of his sleeve. "Thank you for understanding," he said softly, and he embraced her with a hug that made her giddy with tightness.

"I... I love you," he said, and kissed her on the cheek. "And believe me when I say, I'll do anything to ensure that you're satisfied with me."

"Well," Hermione said, "just... don't lie, all right?"

"I never have," he said, his eyes gazing into hers solemnly. "I spent too many years lying to too many people; it lost its lustre after that. Since we began exploring each other as adults, I have done that only once."

"Then let that be the last," Hermione said, and pressed her lips to his, trying to communicate forgiveness with every ounce of her kiss.

Severus' lips were a bit stiff as she kissed them, but then she realized the reason for this: otherwise, they trembled.

Chapter Text

The next day, Hermione went back to St. Mungo's after work. She was exhausted and fatigued, but that was what the time turner was for - catching up after a day away from her students.

She sat there with her father. Erika and Severus had, at her suggestion, remained at Hogwarts. Neither of them could do much of anything, Hermione felt - and she did want some time alone with her father.

It was nice to sit there with him, holding his hand, as they waited to be admitted into the Ward for Unfortunate Muggles. He didn't seem well, and she wanted to make sure she was there for him as much as she could be.

As they sat there, watching the healers and medi-elves that attended the hospital flow by, Oliver said, softly, "I don't know if I can make that kind of medical decision for her. We've talked at great length about our wishes - and have signed comprehensive advance directives - but of course that stuff never took into account this sort of magical problem."

"I wish I knew how to help," Hermione said sadly, and she stared at a painting of a potted fern. It was charmed to wave in the breeze, and it was endlessly relaxing.

Oliver shook his head. "In the regular hospital, when your mother had her heart surgery, there was a social worker around to help smooth out these sorts of things. I asked them if they had that kind of person here, and they just looked at me funny."

"I don't think things like that are covered in Muggle studies, unfortunately," Hermione said, though it did plant the germ of an idea in her brain. "But you're right, dad, there should be someone like that for St. Mungo's. I'm surprised there isn't one, already, some sort of person to be a liaison for those Muggles who were so Unfortunate as to end up here."

"That's a capital idea," her father said, and sighed. "I just don't know what your mother would prefer, if she were in her right mind. When she's all right, she'd prefer to cut off an arm or a leg rather than lose you, and everything you have meant for her. Having to choose on her behalf whether or not to surgically seal all her memories of you, forever... or to lose herself in an illness that would take over her life within a few years... that's such a burden. Too much of a burden to rest on my shoulders, even."

"I know," Hermione said, and a knot was tied up in her throat. "But... to some extent," she said, her voice growing softer, "this is my fault. Losing my mother would be a just punishment for my hubris."

"Look," Oliver said, and he wrapped his arm around Hermione. "From everything you told me, it wasn't hubris. You did some quick thinking on the spot and didn't think through the ramifications. That's absolutely normal for your age. In fact, it's to be expected. So why your former headmaster thought it was a good idea to put the burden of saving the wizarding world on the shoulders of three teenagers - that's absolutely mind boggling. From everything you've told me, I don't blame you. I blame him."

"Perhaps," Hermione said, and she sighed. "But even if I was used as a pawn - which I *wasn't,* by the way - I still made the choice to proceed without caution and getting help as appropriate."

"Because that's what he conditioned you to do!" Oliver said, and Hermione felt a sudden rush of strength below his doddering persona. He turned to face her, and she was struck by the fierceness in his eyes. "He conditioned you with positive reinforcement to solve puzzles on your own, and even when he gave you very little data to work with, you passed with flying colors - you are your mother's daughter, after all."

Ah, yes. It's never completely truthful to say that a child bears the marks of each parent in their personality - but if Rachel Wilkins was the source of Hermione's intelligence, Oliver Granger was the source of her conviction and bravery. And it shone through here, as he argued in Hermione's defense.

"Perhaps," Hermione said, still struggling to acknowledge that her mother's illness was not completely due to her foolishness, and at least partially could be sourced back to another irresponsible adult. "Or perhaps not."

"Ms. Wilkins will see you now," said a medielf who presented themself to the pair, and with a brief strengthening hug, Oliver and Hermione went in to see how Rachel was doing.

...........................

"We did it," Hermione said as she collapsed into the sofa. Severus was on the computer (and Erika was in the shower) but he pushed the laptop away as Hermione made room for him next to her. He moved himself over and wrapped his pudgy thick arms around her, and she relaxed into his embrace. She felt the tiniest of kisses at the nape of her neck. "We wiped her memory. My mother no longer remembers who I am."

"I'm glad you're home," Severus said, cradling her closer to him. "Try not to think about it, if you can."

"I left her some flowers," Hermione said, and she began to sniffle. "From the hospital gift shop. I couldn't watch as they did it. My dad will be back when they finish. I'm under strict orders not to see her for a full year, to ensure that the memory remains cemented, and then I can reenter her life in an orchestrated fashion. Like pretend to be a neighbor or something."

"That's so difficult," Severus said, and his hand wound its way into her bushy hair. It rested there for several minutes, rubbing her scalp and gently stroking her curls. Then, his voice rumbled lowly in the quiet of the room, "How can I help you, my love?"

"Just tell me that you love me," Hermione said, and she began to cry a little bit. "Just tell me that over and over again, and tell me that I'm not the worst person in the universe."

"You certainly are not the worst person in the universe," Severus said sadly, "why would you say that?"

"For letting my mother get to a stage of illness where it's either she has to forget me, or die." She felt like she was being just a little melodramatic but it didn't matter anyway. He had no right to complain! "I'm so profoundly stupid. Why do even like me? You like smart girls, not stupid girls-"

Hermione found herself crying harder at that, and Severus just rubbed her more gently, and hugged her close. "-Hush, hush," he whispered tenderly, and as she sobbed, he began to whisper in her ear, "One poor choice does not a stupid woman make. You're the brightest witch I know, and I love you. I love you. *I. Love. You.*"

It heartened her to hear him say it. He seemed so begrudging with his affection sometimes that she often wondered if she'd imagined it, and this was all some sort of complex mindfuck. But tonight, she was more peaceful on this matter.

Perhaps, tonight, she needed to hear it so much from him because she didn't feel like she could love herself, at this point.

....................

That night, they all had dinner together. Oliver looked somber, but attempted to tell punny jokes he seemed to have been saving up for all these years, and anecdotes about the hospital. He couldn't get over how many things healers could do with their wands - things that Muggles needed enormous machines to do, or could not even yet do.

Severus grimaced at most of the jokes and appeared irritated at most of the stories, but a few times he coughed into his napkin in a way that suggested he was trying to hide a chortle.

Erika was the most loquacious at the table, and indulged Oliver well - she seemed to have some skill at social matters that both Hermione and Severus lacked, and it was a pleasure to watch her. She was almost artistic in the way she danced around the conversation, trying to integrate folks and bring in other ideas, even when both Severus and Hermione were a bit recalcitrant.

And oh, Hermione. She found herself smiling sadly at most of her father's attempts to lighten the mood, and only felt awkward when Erika tried to do the same. She held Severus' hand frequently, seeking reassurance and support. He would sometimes kiss it airily, until Erika told them to cut it out, lest she be sick all over the table.

In the end, Hermione and Severus returned to Hermione's room, while Erika and Oliver sat up late. Hermione wasn't sure if Erika came back or not - she fell asleep to hearing the low voices of Erika and Oliver out in the sitting room, and Severus' slow, heavy breathing over her shoulder.

Chapter Text

Despite the traumas of the past few days, Hermione's life began to trickle back into its normal ways again, finally, like water through a leaky faucet.

Severus seemed to be putting an earnest effort behind his attentions, as if to apologize for something much more serious than the matter at hand. It was both heartbreaking and affirming. Hermione felt confident that her relationship with him was stronger than before, though she also took note of how deeply Severus seemed to take this relatively minor relationship matter.

Erika was also attuned to this, and talked about how practically anything (from an outright scolding to wearing on the wrong color shirt) was liable to put him in a space of 'she's mad at me and going to break it off with me because I fucked up,' when they first started dating. She seemed keenly interested to talk more to Hermione as the rest of her visit went on, to compare notes.

Severus always seemed uneasy whenever the two of them spent time together alone, as if he expected each time he left the room he'd come back and discover both of them upset at him again. But as time went on, they showed him it didn't happen again, and by the end of Erika's visit, he didn't seem as nervous about it.

While Erika's steamy sexiness was constantly on, Hermione found herself getting bogged down by the sheer amount of pre-holiday work that she had to do to prepare for her classes. She was very envious of Severus with his luxurious hours (he and Erika got to spend a great deal of time together while his potions bubbled), and found herself resenting it. In the end, she gave them a bit of a wide berth while she lamented over students' homework instead of whimsical sexy times. It was a bit lonely, but she felt like it was her own fault, so she shouldn't complain. But that didn't stop her from feeling shitty about it.

In fact, she felt kind of shitty about the whole thing, the more she stayed away from them. Hermione, while she didn't feel like Erika harbored any particularly special feelings towards her, was a bit smitten with the other woman. Erika had proven herself capable, charming, and practically perfect in every way - and she also had very few weaknesses to speak of. She loved Jean-Raoul, she loved Marielle, she loved Severus, and she had a variety of other lovers besides who flirted in and out of her life. And Hermione didn't seem to be one of them. This pissed Hermione off, though she felt like she had no right to feel pissed off. Because that wouldn't be right, would it? Resenting her partner spending time with a pre-existing partner because that pre-existing partner didn't seem to reciprocate the same level of interest in her?

No, Hermione knew that wasn't good or effective polyamory. That didn't mean she was able to control her feelings. All it did was make her feel more and more ashamed of her feelings.

It was a day or so before Erika was leaving for the States again, and Hermione was up to her ears in papers. Most of them were done being graded, but she couldn't be arsed to drag them back to the classroom. Time after time she'd put it off, just giving them back - and it was frustrating to come home to her own space and find them sitting there, ogling her. Particularly when she still had a few more to go through.

Oh, grading. Such a joy, and with so little reward. Hermione contemplated her candlestick, burning nearly to the stem, and she played with the idea of knocking down the candle and claiming an accident happened to all her little first-years' papers, and give them all O's to keep their mouths shut.

"I know that look. You're becoming a bitter and jaded teacher yourself," came a voice from her elbow, and she nearly did knock over that candle as she spun around to see Severus.

He was smirking. "I will never regret my choice to lay off traditional teaching forever."

"And you're making me regret my choice to not use wards on my door," Hermione responded with an eyeroll, and she relaxed herself into the arms that wrapped around her shoulders snugly. "How are you, my dear?"

Any lingering resentment she'd had about his use of his free time squirreled itself away, for the moment. Just being touched by another human being felt good, and the softness of the belly that pressed against her neck and head was too alluring.

"I'm faring all right," Severus said, and added, "I haven't seen much of you the past few days."

Hermione gestured to the papers around her. "My time had other victims to torture."

"And my time has been worried sick that you've been giving us the silent treatment," Severus said, stroking her head and pressing it against him. She relaxed into it and breathed deeply of his warm tum, which was clothed in a soft stretchy silk fabric that left very little to the imagination.

"Don't worry," Hermione said, rubbing her chin along the softness of his belly. "I've just been busy."