He can properly ball a melon, wield a knife safely and well, boil a perfect egg—poach one, too—prepare al dente pasta—after making it, himself—and melt chocolate into a silken, inviting richness. His omelettes are light and delicious. His baked potatoes and roasted chickens are mouthwateringly good. Gravies, he has perfected. His stocks—vegetable, poultry, ham, seafood, beef—have a depth I've often dreamed of. His rice always turns out fluffy unless it is meant to be sticky. His eggs practical separate themselves.
I enjoy watching him knead dough, particularly when he's frustrated.
And when he crushes garlic, it is well and truly crushed. His chilli preparation is almost preternaturally precise. He can brown meat beautifully and make salad dressings of all sorts and grill a steak to an exacting rareness. His fingers. When he rubs flour and butter together—
I find myself fantasising about them in a much different con—
Oh, shit. "Yes, Sarah?"
"You know, 'Chef' allows patrons to talk to him while he cooks. You could—"
Severus turned to his daughter. "I've no desire to speak to him."
"No?" asked Sarah, with a sarcastic air. "Well, if that's true, could we eat somewhere else next time? Or cook at home? You're not that bad at it, certainly no worse than Mum."
"I thought you liked this restaurant," Severus said, looking again through the large window which showcased the chef's every move.
"Merlin! You're not even responding to insults."
Oblivious to Sarah's comment, Severus watched the chef do something interesting to a large piece of meat and lost track of time.
Sighing, Severus turned. "Yes, Sar—what are you doing here?"
"That's a nice way to greet your ex," Hermione said, from above crossed arms. "Our daughter Floo'd home. She told me you had someone to see."
Severus followed Hermione's gaze towards the kitchen window and gasped to see Chef looking directly at him. Swallowing, he turned back towards Hermione, but she'd left.
"You're a perfectly dreadful father," he whispered to himself.
"I wouldn't say that."
Harry, thought Severus, turning to find him in flawless chef's whites, his fringe hanging in an unruly mess over one eye. "Potter."
"Snape," Harry replied, grinning at Severus. "I hope you've been enjoying my, er, culinary skills."
Severus sat up straighter as his . . . ears throbbed. "I don't know what—"
"It's not one-way," Harry said, looking deliciously, irritatingly confident. "I can see you, too."
Severus' reply was hoarse. "Oh."
"I just wanted you to know that, if you enjoy watching me in the kitchen, you'll love watching me, er, at home. Um, yeah, at home. In bed."
Severus smirked at Harry's sudden, deep blush. "Tonight?"
Harry started. "What?"
Feeling much more certain of Harry, and himself, Severus pressed, "Would you care to show me your 'home' . . . tonight?"
"Wow." Harry ran a hand through his hair. "I really didn't think that line would work."
"The meal was magnificent. I'll call upon you at your home for dessert."
"that's grea—I mean, er, yes, great. I'll, oh, hells! I get off at midnight. Until then!
With that, Harry returned to the kitchen, and Severus, to his wine.
Tonight, he thought, swallowing a smile. Tonight!
"There," a familiar, smug voice interrupted. "Was that so difficult?"
"Merlin's left bollock, woman! Are you trying to ruin the mood?"
"No," said Hermione, sitting down and taking Severus' glass, "I'm just here to say that I told you so."
"That is one of myriad reasons—"
"That we divorced. I know," she said, drinking the remainder of Severus' wine. "You have your own bad habits. Try not to indulge in them with Harry. He doesn't deserve that."
Severus snorted, but stopped as Hermione took one of his hands in hers and looked at him quite intently.
"If you just want to fuck him, don't, because I won't have you hurting Harry."
"As an Unforgivable, yes."
"One moment," said Severus, glancing towards the kitchen, "are you implying that Harry has—"
"Severus, even our thirteen-year-old can see that you and Harry have feelings for each other. I'm just not convinced that yours are entirely healthy ones."
"That's enough! . . . That's enough, they are."
"You don't just want to shag him silly?"
"Shouldn't that bother you?" Severus demanded.
"If it did, we'd still be married." Hermione stood and bent down to kiss Severus' head. "Don't make me have to murder the father of my child."
"Oh, good gods, does Sarah think that—"
"She thinks you've a crush. I doubt she's envisioning you participating in any orgies," said Hermione, "no matter what Skeeter's been writing about your wild divorcehood, you 'gay divorcé', you."
"And I think Sarah's too preoccupied with her summer Potions prep—"
"Is she using the notes I gave her?" Severus interrupted.
Nodding, Hermione continued, "To be thinking too closely about your social life. You just annoyed her by coming here again."
"Next time, I'll take her to Mam's, and we'll go for fish and chips."
"Good. She'll like that," said Hermione. "Now, can I trust you to be good?"
Severus opened his mouth, closed it, and then nodded. As Hermione began to walk away, he cleared his throat to stop her.
"Yes?" she asked.
"As you recall," said Severus, allowing the fondness he felt for Hermione to colour his tone, "I'm always good."
Hermione's sudden grin was radiant and reached her eyes. "Love you," she mouthed, giving him a little wave.
And I, you, my Know It All, thought Severus, returning his attention to the kitchen. "Oh, dear."
Harry stood shaking his head over a deflated soufflé.
Wizard in the kitchen though he was, everyone knew of Chef Potter's mental block when it came to soufflés, and Severus—who, as it happened, could produce a masterful one, be it savoury or sweet—found it charming.
He took a sip of wine, adjusted his chair, and fixed his eyes upon the kitchen, thinking, Tonight.