Chapter 1: Awakening
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Disclaimer: I don't own any Harry Potter characters and any OC's that resemble real people are entirely coincidental.
Warning: This story is a strong T with swearing and scenes of a romantic and frisky nature.
Sept 19th, 2006. 8 years after the Battle of Hogwarts…
When Severus Snape finally clawed his way up from the black and desolate abyss of absolute nothingness he’d been trapped in for what felt like an eternity, his first sensation was that of floating weightlessly in a sea of gently undulating warmth.
His second sensation was the familiar one of a flannel being run over his body, but he was almost certain it wasn’t himself doing the washing.
Because the continued darkness indicated his eyes were closed, and his limbs felt like they were in that just tingling to wakefulness stage that indicated very little muscle coordination would be possible at the moment.
Since the sensation of being carefully washed along every millimetre of his left arm and hand was pleasant and not yet alarming, his mind felt free to process another stimulant; smell.
His sensitive nose first picked up the scent of coconut, quickly followed by the more subtle scents of frankincense and copaiba. This was coming from the water he seemed to be immersed in, and he approved of the scents chosen and their many useful properties. The next scent he picked up was that of sandalwood soap as the soft terrycloth was passed across his collarbones on its way to work on his right arm.
Severus approved of that choice as well, since it was his preferred scent to bathe himself in.
And if he concentrated, he could feel the slender fingers holding that cloth, which was an enticing thought. Further enticing him was the subtle scent of lavender, chamomile, and clean female that seemed to hover above him, presumably from the person attached to the flannel.
Severus was intrigued by this mystery person who was giving him a bath. They had a good grasp of scent, oils, and their uses, if nothing else.
And they were humming softly under their breath, he realized, the subtle vibrations and sweet tone of it pleasant to his ears.
With the return of his sense of touch and smell, his hearing had suddenly decided to make a reappearance as well, like his brain was slowly but surely relearning how to interpret the signals from the world around him.
It took him a minute of concentration, but Severus felt triumphant when he finally recognized the tune as belonging to ‘The Skye Boat Song’, which just happened to be a song his mother used to sing him to sleep with when he was little.
Based on what he’d learned thus far, Severus could only conclude that he was either dreaming of when he was a young child, being bathed by his mother, or he was quite dead and an angel had chosen to personally wash him of the dirt and blood he last remembered being covered in before allowing him to continue his ascension into the Great Beyond.
As much as he’d loved his mother, Severus was kind of rooting for option two.
And not only because he was intrigued by this angel of mercy, but because he was quite done with life and all the miserable trials that he had endured thus far. He honestly had nothing to live for at this point as far as he could remember. He was done.
He’d kept his promises to Dumbledore. Endured years worth of abuse from Voldemort and his followers. Taught more imbecilic children than one should ever have to deal with in a dozen lifetimes. And he’d done his duty to Lily’s memory and assisted her son as much as he could, even going so far as to give him some of his most precious memories as he felt Nagini’s venom doing its vicious work through his systems.
Unfortunately, now that those memories were gone, Severus couldn’t quite remember what they were, only that something very important to him was now missing from his mind.
I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway, he thought with a very slight sigh that caused the one washing him to freeze her movements of the flannel over his chest, right over his heart, in fact. He only absently noticed as he continued his line of thought. If I’m dead, then those memories aren’t going to do me any good anymore anyway.
His mouth twitched up at the corner as wry amusement filled him. That was a lot of ‘anys’ in one sentence.
The flannel was removed from his body and the angel above him inhaled sharply, no longer humming. “Did it work? Did I finally find the right blend of anti-venoms to cure him?” the angel whispered.
Am I not dead?
With what felt like a considerable more effort than it should have cost him, Severus pried his eyelids open and looked up into a blurry but nicely shaped face surrounded by a halo of big hair. Very big hair. He squinted and blinked, trying to see better with how she was backlit by a light that was much too bright for his poor eyes. “Wh…” he croaked from a throat tight and unused to being exercised. He swallowed and tried again. “Who are…”
“Merlin, you're awake!” the angel breathed. “I healed you! I finally healed you!” She disappeared from his line of sight, but he could still hear her talking. And pacing. “Holy shite! I can’t believe it! I actually healed him. Everyone told me to give up years ago, to take him back to St. Mungo’s and let them deal with the unresponsive Snape zombie, but I didn’t and now…”
Severus couldn’t even be mad that she hadn’t answered his question, because she was answering others all on her own.
“Circe. Eight bloody long years and over four hundred different potion experiments, and I finally healed him. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.”
Eight years? EIGHT YEARS?! I’ve been, what, in a coma or something for eight years?! Holy shite is right.
And why does her voice sound disconcertingly familiar?
Wait a minute. Insane hair, talented with potions, and the stubborn determination of a lioness?
Inspired to kick-start his still tingling body into motion Severus convinced his arms to move enough so that he could push against the bottom of the bathtub. He managed to prop himself up just enough so that he could see over the edge of what turned out to be a tub easily big enough for two and was quite deep.
And there she was, pacing the length of the relatively large and luxurious bathroom, not looking at him at all as she pushed a lock of that crazy bush she called hair out of her eyes and mumbling to herself; Hermione Granger.
But not the budding woman he last remembered her being. Oh no. Now she was definitely a full-grown witch with the curves to prove it. All barely covered in some sort of loose, white, diaphanous nightgown that left her slender arms and lower legs bare and that the bright lights in the bathroom seemed ideally suited to shine right through. His reawakening body seemed to like the sight very much.
Severus cleared his throat as deliberately as he could manage, inspiring the Gryffindor witch to look up at him, her deep whiskey eyes wide. “Professor Snape! You’re…”
“Miss Granger,” he rasped, cutting her off, his arms already shaking slightly from the effort of holding himself up, but not completely useless like he would have expected after eight years with no exercise. He spared half a second to glance at an arm and was surprised to see real muscle definition in it. And beyond that, his hair hung in long, soaked strands and had to be at least as long as Lucius’. He did an actual double take before mentally shaking it off. What the fuck? More questions. But for now… “Would you please care to explain to me why I am completely starkers in what I assume is your bathtub while you take liberties with my person?”
Hermione blushed. And not just a becoming darkening over her fine cheekbones, but an entire sweep of red from her forehead to her partially exposed and perfectly proportioned chest. Severus was secretly amused, even if he didn’t let his expression slip from the stern façade he’d adopted; he always did love to disconcert people.
“Professor I, um, crap,” she stammered before sucking in a breath and quite obviously mentally girding herself to act like an adult as she approached the tub and knelt beside it, putting them at a similar eyelevel. Her gaze was serious and piercing. “Severus.”
And apparently as equals. Interesting.
“You have been under my exclusive care for the last seven years, ever since I took you out of St. Mungo’s because they had given up on trying to heal you and were just going through the motions of keeping your body alive.”
I wouldn’t expect anything less, to be honest.
“There is not even a square millimetre of your skin that I don’t know personally.”
That… Could be intriguing, actually.
“I have fed you, clothed you, dealt with your bodily wastes,”
“exercised your muscles for you,”
That explains why I’m not a limp noodle.
“poured enough potions down your throat to sink a ship, and yes, even bathed you. All while still putting in six hours of work every day at the Ministry in two separate shifts. If you can’t deal with that, then all I can say to you is fuck you.”
Whoa. Just whoa. Severus was astonished at her blunt frankness, and he respected her for it. He was also seriously impressed and couldn’t seem to work up any sort of real embarrassment about her seeing to his needs either, and didn’t feel like wondering why at the moment. Maybe later.
The tingling in his limbs had finally stopped and he felt like he could maybe move to a more comfortable position. So he did, slowly but surely twisting around so that he was kneeling in the tub and looking at Hermione straight on. “I have just one question.” (He was happy his voice was working better now too.)
She raised a finely shaped eyebrow, resting her crossed arms on the edge of the tub and propping her chin on them. “And that would be?”
He leaned forward a few fractions closer, searching her eyes for the truth even as he asked his question. “Why bother with me when no one but my mother has ever cared to?”
She tilted her head slightly, eyes scanning his face in return. “That’s why. Because no one has ever cared to and you deserved so much better than that. You’re the most unselfish and self-sacrificing person I’ve ever met, a true hero, and no one knew or cared to know. If not for you, we wouldn’t have won the war and finally defeated Voldemort for good. If not for you, so many more lives would have been lost. You deserve to be properly cared for by at least one person in your adult life, and I decided that person was going to be me.”
Severus was speechless. Flat out speechless. And that very rarely happened to him. I can’t… I can’t believe that she would do this for me. Me. The most hated person to ever stalk the halls of Hogwarts. But she did, obviously. And she’s telling the truth. There’s no deceit in her thoughts. None at all. If anything, there’s a vulnerable hint of affection for me hidden at the back of her mind.
Did she actually like me as a teacher? As a person?
I would have thought it inconceivable, but her thoughts doesn’t lie. Her actions don’t lie. Her dedicated care for me most certainly doesn’t lie.
How can I ever repay her for not letting me rot in a bed somewhere indefinitely?
“Miss Granger.” He swallowed hard. “Tha…”
“Hermione,” she said, cutting him off, the beginnings of a smile curling up her lips. “You’ll probably never remember them, but we’ve had some incredible one-sided conversations, and aside from the fact that you're not my grouchy teacher anymore, I think we’ve certainly been intimate enough to be on a first name basis.”
Severus felt his own mouth curve upwards in a rare smile at the witch’s gentle teasing. He nodded once in acceptance. “Hermione then. Thank you. For everything you’ve done for me. I am forever in your debt. Whatever you want, if I can get it or do it for you, I will.”
It was strange, but unlike the previous times he’d pledged his life to someone, Severus didn’t feel like he’d just been shackled to a hundred pound iron ball. For once, he genuinely wanted to live in servitude to another person. Wanted to make this beautiful witch happy in whatever way he could.
Hermione, of course, shook her head with a smile, reaching forward with one of her elegant little hands and cupped his cheek after brushing a strand of his ridiculously long hair behind his ear. He almost jumped at the touch, but then found himself leaning into it like an attention starved cat. “No, Severus. You owe me nothing. I’ve learned a lot about myself and who my real friends are thanks to you. I’ve also patented three new potions that I invented just for you and they’ve made me quite well off. If anything, I owe you for being my guinea pig. You unknowingly helped me invent a new potion for the care of fine hair, one that cleans and whitens teeth without a toothbrush, and one that can build muscle tone even in the laziest subject.” She smiled at the last, pleased with her own wit.
He laughed softly, agreeing with her. Can’t get any more lazy than comatose.
She’d caressed his face the entire time she’d been talking, and Severus felt like he would have started purring if he could. The eight years of coma aside, it had been so very long since anyone had touched him with a loving hand. He raised his own hand and cupped hers, turning his head and pressing a kiss to her palm. “Then we’ll call it even,” he murmured against her skin.
“All right,” she whispered back, sounding breathless.
Severus looked at her eyes and found them trained on their joined hands and the very clear thought of, How many times have I imagined this? at the forefront of her mind, easy for him to read.
Is that so?
Curious, and feeling more than a little hot beneath the warm and perfectly scented water, Severus curled his fingers around hers and kissed her knuckles, keeping his eyes trained on hers. “Thank you, my angel.”
Her pupils dilated and she thought, Merlin help me.
He hid a smile behind her hand. Not Merlin, but I’ll see what I can do.
“I’m not an angel,” she protested, shaking her head and looking slightly dazed.
He rubbed his thumb over the top of her hand. “To me, you are. It was the first thing I thought as I was waking up; that there was an angel humming to me while she bathed me with the most perfect touches.”
Hermione blushed again, but this one was deliciously becoming as it spread across her cheekbones and her eyes lowered to stare at the edge of the tub. He’d embarrassed her. Oops. Too much?
"I… I guess I should leave you to finish your own bath," she stammered slightly. "The blue bottle is your soap, and the amber one is your shampoo.”
Definitely too much. Now to fix it.
She moved to get up, but Severus didn’t relinquish his hold on her fingers. He tugged her back down as she looked at him questioningly. “Hermione. Is there anyone in your life who would object if you were to continue bathing an awake and aware me?”
Her eyes shot to his and went wide as she understood the implications of his question. “No,” she said in a near squeak, shaking her head slowly. “No one. Ron left me when I brought you home and no one else has interested me since.”
I always knew that particular Weasley was a dunderhead.
“Is it bad of me to say that I’m glad?” Severus asked tentatively.
She shook her head again, her ruby lips starting to curve upwards again. “Are you asking me to continue your bath, Severus?”
Maybe the angel thing wasn't too much after all. He reached with his free hand to touch her humidity inspired curls, brushing some back behind her ear like she’d done to him. They were soft and felt decidedly different from his own hair, but he liked them. A lot. He’d always thought her hair was a good barometer for her mood - it tended to get bigger in a manifestation of her magic when she was passionate about something - and helped make her unique amongst thousands. “I am,” he rumbled. “In fact, I wouldn’t be opposed if you were to join me in the tub to do it. IF that’s something you would be interested in, that is.”
She smiled wider, her eyes starting to shine with happiness as she leaned closer to him. “I might be persuaded.”
His heart picked up the pace at the poorly hidden fantasies rolling through her mind. He closed the distance between them even further, wrapping one of her long curls around his fingers and tugging on her other hand to pull her even closer. “And what would it take to do that?” he breathed against her mouth, their noses almost touching.
“Not much,” she admitted, her hand tugging out of his to rest on his shoulder. Her other hand slowly joined it on his other shoulder.
Severus cupped her face and closed the last inch of distance between them, brushing his lips against hers once, then twice, and then pulling back. “Is that enough?”
Her eyes fluttered open again and she smiled at him coyly. “Hmmm. Not quite.”
“Then I shall endeavour to try a little harder,” he said, his voice sounding deeper than normal even to himself. He brushed his mouth against hers again and then stayed there as her arms wrapped around his neck and pulled him closer over the edge of the tub.
Her hum of approval was the sweetest sound he’d ever heard.
Chapter 2: Interrupted
If she wasn’t floating in a cloud of sensual nirvana, Hermione would probably still be shocked about the turn of events that had led to her mouth being explored in the most wicked fashion by one incredibly brilliant and brave ex Death Eater.
But she was, so her mile-a-minute brain was currently on holiday from the knowledge that she’d finally succeeded in curing Severus Snape and that in only ten minutes of conversation, she was suddenly being kissed by a former teacher that used to treat her like an annoyance and her best friends like dirt. In fact, her brain was nearly entirely on hiatus regarding everything. The only thought that seemed to be featuring was, Good, good, so freaking good.
Because Severus Snape was good at kissing. Really good. So very thorough and deliberate in every one of his actions. His lips moved over hers with the fine touch of a master and his tongue caressed hers like a connoisseur of everything that made her nerve endings explode with sensation.
He put Ron’s overly wet and enthusiastic kisses to shame.
And Victor’s too forceful ones that left her lips feeling bruised.
And that wizard from the accounting department that had thought she was desperate enough to want the kisses of a Merlin wannabee with the arms of an octopus and a mouth like a sucker to match.
In short, Severus was proving himself to be just as good a lover in reality as he was in her dreams.
Or maybe I’m dreaming right now.
If that’s the case, I really, really don’t want to wake up.
She whimpered slightly with disappointment when he removed his mouth from hers. His deep chuckle had her opening her eyes to look directly into his bottomless obsidian ones. “More,” she whispered, clutching the back of his head.
He stroked her cheeks with large thumbs, smiling in a way she was sure she’d never seen from him before. “Of course I’ll give you more, but I was hoping you would first join me inside the tub. My knees are starting to hurt from kneeling on the porcelain and this would be so much better if we didn’t have the barrier of a hard bathtub between us, don’t you think?”
The deep rumble of his voice was like a shot of bliss to her ears.
And other parts.
Which is why it took her brain a few seconds longer than it should have to actually process his words and come up with an appropriate answer.
And also why she acted like a wild person in the next moment.
Hermione blinked and then lunged over the tub and on top of him with a squealed out, “Gods, yes!” that had them both tumbling into the water and all but drowning him before they managed to readjust with much splashing, sputtering, and flying limbs so that she was kneeling around his thighs as he reclined against the back of the tub.
With his hands on her waist, hers on his shoulders, and their hair floating around them in the deep water like soggy masses of brown and black seaweed, Hermione gasped out, “I’m sorry!”
Severus snorted, his black eyes twinkling and his perfectly shaped mouth twitching with amusement as he shook his head at her. “I should have known you’d get in with your usual Gryffindor enthusiasm and been better prepared.”
She shook her head back at him. “I’m still sorry. You made me lose all sense of reason for a minute there.”
His eyes gleamed. “I’m going to take that as a compliment.” He ran his hands up and down her sides overtop of her drenched nightgown, making her gasp at how amazing that felt, as he rumbled out, “Do you want me to do it again?”
There was only one correct answer to that question.
And ‘no’ wasn’t it.
“Yes please,” she whispered in a tone as polite as can be.
“Good,” he husked back, ebony eyes flashing with an inner fire that lit her own even hotter.
Severus drew her closer to him, sliding her forwards so she was over his narrow waist now. Her hands tangled in his wet hair. And then his mouth was feathering over hers again with a groan of pleasure from deep in his chest.
His long fingered hands on her back that hugged them together and caressed at the same time was everything she could hope for. He was gently insistent but not demanding or pushy. He didn’t try and force their hips together before she was ready for that. Nor did he grab at her arse like a, well, arse.
He was being a perfect gentleman considering he was naked and she was all but.
He hadn’t even flicked his eyes down to gawk at her chest in her nightgown that must be see-through now.
There was definitely something to be said for taking a lover who was older and possessed some actual self-control.
“Severus,” she murmured reverently into his caressing kisses. “Everything I dreamed, I swear.”
He pulled his mouth from hers and their eyes met for a moment before he turned his attention to laying butterfly kisses all over her face and neck. Kisses that made her want to giggle and squirm, but the words he said back in between his kisses kept her still. “I must admit that it does crazy things to me to hear you say that, but I can’t say the same about you. The last memory I have of you is of a school girl with too much responsibility on her young shoulders, forced to grow up too soon. And no matter how mature you were for your age at the time, I never let myself fantasize about school girls. What I can say is that the beautiful woman I woke up to is everything I could wish for in a witch for my very own; smart, dedicated, sexy as hell, and best of all, not revolted by my past sins.”
She thrilled at his description of her, since there were very few who would actually call the insane hair that came with her (in her opinion) average features and body ‘sexy as hell’, but her heart broke yet again for him when his most important requirement was that a witch not be turned off by the things he’d done in the past. Things, for the most part she was sure, had been done in the name of the greater good for all of wizardkind.
Hermione let go of his silky wet hair to cup his hard jaw and bring their gazes back together. Then she told him very seriously, “Severus Snape, there is nothing you could confess about your past that would make me leave this tub right now, or your life anytime in the future. Even if we eventually come to the conclusion that we’re not compatible as lifelong partners, it would be my honour to always be your friend if you’ll let me.”
His hands tightened on her back convulsively before he tensed almost to the point of being a carved-in-stone statue under her. “Hermione,” he breathed, her name sounding like a prayer in his amazing voice that could drip honey or scorn with equal finesse. “That’s too much to ask. You don’t even really know me. Or the things I’ve done.”
“I know enough,” she refuted. “I know that you hate teaching children and yet you always gave your students one hundred percent of your attention. I know you have a noble, self-sacrificing heart. I know you love books and knowledge as much as I do. I know you’re a brilliant and powerful wizard with a talent for inventing potions, curses, and spells that was frankly wasted as a teacher. I know you're loyal to the point of obsession to those who earn your respect. I know you'd rather be alone than in a crowd. I know you have the dry wit and intelligence of Sherlock. I know you're really a Prince and should be just as haughty as the Malfoys but you aren't. I know your Patronus is a doe in honour of your first love. I know that you must be a good person whether you act like it or not simply because you can actually manifest a Patronus. And finally, I know from the scars on your body that you endured terrible abuse for most likely your entire life. Which means your home life must have sucked and your stint as one of Voldemort’s minions must have sucked even worse.”
He sighed, sliding down into the tub a few more inches and letting his head bump back against the rim as he looked up at the ceiling. “That is all very true. Especially the last part. I did terrible things as a Death Eater that made me sick, but I had little choice. Failure to comply with my Lord’s wishes left me near death on dozens of occasions over the years, and those were just the occurrences where I thought I could get away with interpreting his orders creatively.”
Hermione stroked his pained brow in sympathy and he tilted his head forward to look at her again, capturing her hand and grasping it gently before saying, “I suppose it was all worth it, though, if we won in the end.” He paused and looked at her with widening eyes. And there was more than a hint of panic in his tone when he said, “We did win, didn’t we? We’re not living in a land of oppression and misery?”
Hermione smiled reassuringly, lacing her fingers with his, absently marvelling at how much larger his hand was than hers. “Yes, we won. I doubt I would still be alive if we hadn’t.”
Severus sighed in relief as he squeezed their laced fingers together carefully in gratitude and acknowledgement, then placed their linked hands over his heart. “That’s good. And you’re probably right. Voldemort had no intentions of letting any muggle-borns live. And the half-bloods such as myself were looking at short lifespans as well. Or taking infertility potions at the very least so we couldn’t further dilute the gene pool.”
Hermione shuddered. “Merlin. I’m so glad that Harry beat that evil, evil man.”
He raised a sharply winged eyebrow. “So Potter survived then?”
“Well, he did have to die first, but I have a feeling you knew that, didn’t you?”
“I was aware, yes. I just didn’t know that the Boy Wonder would perform even more miracles and resurrect himself.”
Hermione laughed softly at his put-upon tone and pinched look of disdain. “I’m sorry you’ll have to suffer through more of his presence in your life, considering that he’s still my best friend.”
“Lovely.” His dry tone was anything but impressed. “I may just pretend to still be comatose whenever Potter comes around.”
They both turned to look through the open bathroom door from where the distant echo of her name had come from.
“It’s like I just magicked him here,” Severus muttered under his breath, scowling.
“Hermione?! Where are you?! Don’t you know what day it is?!”
Hermione squeaked and scrambled off of her wizard in a slightly more graceful fashion than she’d fallen on him and ejected herself from the tub. “Crap, crap, crap!” she whisper-cursed as she dripped all over the floor.
A whoosh of warm air came from beside her and suddenly she was dry from head to toe. Hermione looked at Severus in surprise. “Did you just do that without a wand?” she said as in quiet amazement.
Severus shrugged his broad shoulders casually. “Why not?”
“Blimey. You just woke up after being all but dead for eight and a half years.”
He wiggled his fingers at her. “Doesn’t make a difference apparently. You either have magic or you don’t.”
She blinked. “Good to know.”
“HERMIONE! Stop hiding! You’re getting out of this house for once whether you like it or not!” This was from the less than dulcet tones of one Ginny Potter.
Hermione looked from Snape to the door that led into her bedroom (she was very grateful that door was closed, at least) and back again. “I have to go. Unless you want them to see you awake?”
He shook his head quickly. “No. Not yet. I think I like being essentially dead to everyone else for the moment.”
She smiled at him softly. “I understand. I won’t tell them yet.” She moved a step towards the door and then looked back at him. “Enjoy your bath. I’ll hopefully be back in a few hours.”
“I will, thank you.” His smile was genuine, full of white teeth, and made her heart skip again. Then he tilted his elegant (if prominently nosed) head slightly. “What day is it, anyhow? It can’t be Christmas.”
She snorted. “No. It’s my birthday. And my friends refuse to let me forget it.”
And with that, she hurried out of the bathroom to change into something suitable for a night on the town. Hopefully an abbreviated one.
Because she had no desire to dance or meet new wizards or get hopelessly wasted. All she wanted to do was rush back into the tub with Severus and continue where they’d left off before they’d started talking.