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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.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The first several chapters of this story are a bit of a slow burn, poorly executed cheesy romance, because I originally intended this to be a relatively short story of no more than 20 chapters or so. But if you stick with it past chapter 11, you'll find that the story gets dramatically deeper (and sexier!) once I decided this fic had more possibilities and my confidence as a writer began to grow.

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. I use my own dimensions as a frame of reference in writing so please don't get all pantsy with me about them. 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: blatant disregard for health as 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.