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Push Me Closer

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CHAPTER ONE

Severus raised his eyes to the ceiling, biting his lip to stifle his groan. Had either of them cast a Silencing Charm on the door? He couldn't remember, not when his hands were wrapped in Hermione's hair and her lips were wrapped around his cock. The contrast of the cold November air on his bare arse and the warmth of her mouth sent shivers down the back of his knees.

They had met up in a fourth-floor corridor at the end of their night patrol, and before he knew it Hermione had shoved him into a broom cupboard and dropped to her knees. There, amongst cobwebs and the rustling of mice in the corners, she had pulled his trousers down over his arse and proclaimed, “I want to taste you.”

Who was he to deny her?

The space was quiet but for his heavy breathing, the small sounds she would make and the slick sound of her mouth moving up and down his cock. His hands tightened in her hair. She took him in deeper, her throat constricting around his head. He had to stop himself from thrusting into her mouth and instead let her take control. It was sexy as hell. Growling her name as a warning – in case she wanted to move back – he opened his eyes and glanced down. Her bouncing brown curls, hollowed out cheeks and pink lips moving around him proved too much, and he spilled down her throat with a strangled groan.

Severus fought to catch his breath – and to convince his thighs to stop trembling – and combed his fingers through Hermione's hair. His shirt clung to his sweaty back, and now that the heat of the moment had passed, he shivered. Blinking his eyes open – when had he closed them? - he found Hermione sitting back on her knees, hand wiping her mouth. Her face was flushed, eyes alight and lips swollen. Fuck, she was beautiful.

“Bloody hell, witch,” he said once he regained his breath, and reached out to help her to her feet. “Are you trying to kill me?”

Hermione chuckled and stood. “No. I've just missed you, that's all.”

This confession made him kiss her deeply. He had missed her as well, more than he cared to admit.

It had been a warm summer evening when they ran into each other in Diagon Alley, and she had asked if he wanted to go for a pint. He realised in the dim light of the Muggle pub – less chance of people staring – how pretty her eyes were. She had thrown her head back in laughter, hand on his arm and his pulse had quickened. Thirty minutes later she was bent over the sofa in Spinner's End as he pounded into her, hands digging into her hips.

“How are your knees?” Severus started fastening his trousers – he felt both cold and strangely vulnerable standing there with his prick out in the open.

“They're fine,” Hermione said, waving a hand over her robes to clear off the dust and grime. “Thank you for the cushioning charm; that was very thoughtful.”

“That is the very least one can do when a witch drops to her knees on a stone floor to suck your cock.”

Hermione snorted. “Very eloquent.”

Severus retrieved his cloak from where it had been slung over a box of cleaning supplies. “Are we heading to your quarters or mine so I can return the favour?”

She bit her lip. “Yours.”

Approximately ten minutes later she was spread out on his bed, keening and moving her hips against his mouth. Two fingers were curled inside her while his tongue was slowly circling her clit, never doing the same thing for too long.

“Severus, please,” she begged. “Fuck, stop teasing.”

Letting out a chuckle against her flesh, Severus' fastened his lips around her clit and sucked it into his mouth, drawing a squeal from her as her thighs quivered. Mumbled jargon came from her lips; a mixture of his name, curses she only used when they were intimate, and the name of the gods. Her heel rubbed against his back as she tried pulling him closer.

He knew she was close by the fluttering of her walls even before she started chanting his name. Thrusting his fingers harder, he kept his free hand wrapped around one of her thighs to stop her from crushing his head. Every muscle in her body tensed and she let out a long mewl as her back arched and she fell apart under his touch. He slowed down until she was twitching against him, pushing at his head. Moving away from her oversensitive flesh, Severus cast a quick cleaning spell on his fingers and pressed a kiss to her inner thigh. She tasted both floral and salty, her skin warm.

Hermione rose on her elbows, peering down at him. Her hair was like a halo around her head. He could still feel its softness in his hands. “Thank you.”

He smirked. “My pleasure.”

His cock was hard again, and he wanted nothing more than to bury himself inside her. Severus stayed in bed watching her as she gathered her clothing – which had been strewn all over the room in his eagerness to get her naked. He particularly enjoyed the view of her bending over to pick up her knickers. Her arse was outstanding. Thinking about how it felt – and moved – in his hands made his cock stir. Once she was – regrettably – fully dressed, she leaned over the bed.

He reached up to tuck her curls behind her ear. “I'll see you at breakfast.”

Hermione brushed her lips against his. “Good night, Severus.”

Tempting as it was to pull her down and distract her into spending the night, he refrained.

There would be time.

After their first tryst over the summer, he hadn't seen her until the week before the start of term. He had been unsure of how to handle the situation and had thus been surprised when she showed up as he was setting up the Potions classroom and promptly asked if he wanted to keep shagging, no strings attached. How could he say no to an offer like that?

Stretching out on his stomach, Severus buried his face in the pillow.

The start of the autumn term had limited the time they could spend together, and as November rolled in with sleet and cold winds they found they could scarcely meet twice a week. It wasn't enough to see her every day as a colleague; he wanted more.

He would be lying if he said he didn't know when it happened – when his feelings turned into more than enjoying her body and her mind. He knew exactly when it happened. A rainy Thursday evening about three weeks prior, he had been late to the staff meeting. Hermione had kept the seat next to her clear – his preferred seat facing the door – and saved him the last slice of Manchester tart. He had looked at her and felt a tugging somewhere around his navel.

Inhaling deeply, his nose was assaulted with her smell. Floral and something fruity, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what. His cock twitched, and he groaned. He really was fucked.

They had a routine for breakfast – dating back to when they first started to become friendly during her second year of teaching – that was as predictable as Hagrid bringing home yet another dangerous animal and giving it a name like Fluffy. Blasted dog. Severus was barely coherent before two cups of coffee and she knew better than to try to engage him in any conversation.

“Are you finished with the latest issue of Arithmancy Quarterly?” she asked, spreading blackberry marmalade on a piece of toast. “ I was hoping to incorporate some of Russling's theories in my NEWT class tomorrow, but I need a catch up beforehand.”

“I finished it last night,” Severus said, not raising his eyes from the Daily Prophet in front of him. “You can swing by my office later, or I'll bring it to you by the end of the day.” He glanced up at her. “You're wasting your time, though; Russling's theories are mediocre at best.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I'm not having this conversation with you. Again. Do I tell you how to do your job?”

He huffed, closing the paper. “Frequently.”

“That's completely different,” she argued, waving her piece of toast in his face, “because I'm clearly right, and you're clearly wrong.”

Severus wanted to kiss the smile from her face. He wouldn't, though. Not in public, anyway. Public displays of affections were for teenagers and newlyweds, and they were neither. They had decided at the start of term – whilst they were catching their breaths on her sofa – to keep their relations private. He didn't mind; it was no one's business what he did – or whom in this case.

Instead he snorted and shook his head. “Gryffindors.”

After breakfast, they went their separate ways: Severus down to the dungeons and Hermione up to the Arithmancy classroom on the seventh floor. If he was so inclined he might have lingered on the juxtaposition between him being in the underbelly of the castle and her up high near the sky. He entered the classroom through his office and took his place behind the desk. Though they tried to keep their relations separate from their jobs, it had happened once or twice – or a dozen times – that she'd come to the Potions classroom for something work-related only to end up on his desk. Or bent over it.

He could hear the students – third year Gryffindors and Ravenclaws – gathering outside the classroom door, chatting and laughing. Rolling his shoulders, Severus banished all thoughts of Hermione splayed out on his desk from his head and opened the door with a wave of his wand.

Five minutes before the lunch bell rang, all hell broke loose.

Severus was overseeing the bottling of the Erumpent potion when there was a large crash and several screams from the back of the classroom. He hurried over and saw a broken jar of Bundimun Secretion on the floor. The acidic substance was splattered everywhere; on the floor and furniture, and on the robes of unexpecting students.

He slashed his wand through the air, hopefully neutralising the secretion before it made irreversible damage.

“Who is responsible for this?” he barked, looking around the class. His eyes met a pair of wide blue ones, filled with tears. “Miss Hearth, stay behind. Anyone who got as much as a drop of the Bundimun Secretion on you, report to the Hospital Wing immediately. The rest of you, out!”

Quiet moans of pain and sniffles were heard as the students gathered their belongings and left the classroom. He stalked over to the only remaining student in the room. Her face was pale, eyes watery and with silent tears streaming down her face.

“Miss Hearth,” he hissed. “Explain yourself.”

“I'm sorry, sir,” she sobbed, wiping at her face with her right hand. “It just slipped, it was an accident.”

“Accident or not, you caused serious harm to your fellow students. If the secretion got into anyone's eyes they would become blind.”

She let out a whimper and nodded.

Severus tilted his head. “Show me your left hand.”

Miss Hearth complied, and Severus' stomach turned seeing her red and swollen hand. It had a putrid smell, and he backed away slightly.

“50 points from Gryffindor and detention on Saturday, 7 o'clock. Now off to the infirmary with you.”

Once she was gone, the classroom door slammed shut behind her, Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. Even diluted, Bundimun Secretion was highly acidic and could eat through most materials. Taking out his wand, he set out to clean up the mess and restore the desks and the rest of the classroom to its original state.

It took the better part of the lunch hour, and left him with no time to get any lunch before his NEWT class arrived. Thank Merlin they were marginally more competent than the younger students; at least he didn't have to worry about them blowing up the classroom and could make a start on marking homework.

In the break before his last class of the day, Severus ducked into his office to fetch a cup of tea. Practically downing half of it, he pushed down the urge to add a splash of firewhisky. Hermione's Arithmancy journal lay on his desk, and he eyed it as he sipped his tea. He would go up to her office later that evening to give it back. Hopefully she wasn't busy, and he could stay for a bit. Not only for sex – though it was mind-blowing – but for her company. He was very fond of the way her nose crinkled when she laughed.

A knock sounded on the door.

“Enter,” he barked, annoyed at being interrupted and putting down his empty mug on the desk.

He wasn't expecting Hermione to step into his office, and he hated the way it made his mouth dry.

“If you're here to berate me for giving your star student detention, save your breath.”

“I'm not,” she said, closing the door. “You know me better than that. Are you all right? You didn't get any of the Bundimun on you?”

His pulse quickened. “I'm fine, thank you.”

“I spoke to Poppy before coming down here; the students are all going to be fine. Poppy even said no one will scar.”

“Luckily,” he said, leaning back against his desk. “I daresay Miss Hearth will not be so careless in the future.”

Hermione smirked. “Also the point deduction means Gryffindor is no longer in the lead for the House Cup.”

Severus shrugged. “A happy coincidence.”

She rolled her eyes but then smiled. “If you say so. I need to get to class.”

After she brushed her lips against his and sauntered out the door he realised the Arithmancy journal still lay on his desk.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER TWO

Hermione had just finished marking the fourth-year essays when there was a curt knock on the door. Biting her lip, she stood and walked around her desk. She already knew who was on the other side of the door.

“Come in.”

Severus strode into the room, cloak billowing. Her core clenched. The effect he had on her was borderline embarrassing; she was a grown woman, for Circe's sake.

The corner of his mouth twitched. “I missed you at dinner.”

Her cheeks flushed. “I'm behind on my marking; for some reason, I didn't get much done after patrol yesterday.” Heat pooled in her body thinking back on the previous night. She leaned back against the desk with a smile. “Have you got my journal?”

He tossed the journal – retrieved from his cloak pocket – on the desk. “As promised. Although you could have got it from my office earlier this afternoon.”

“I must have forgotten. I'm meeting Minerva in a bit to go over the chaperoning list for Hogsmeade. Are you sure you're unavailable? It's a month away, after all.” She wouldn't go so far as to bat her eyelashes, but she was well aware of how to get through to him.

He tilted his head. “I'm sure I can rearrange my schedule for the day.”

When did the air become so thick with tension?

He looked her up and down. “When is your meeting with Minerva?”

“Forty minutes.” She could scarcely breathe.

He stepped in close, practically pinning her against the desk and resting his hands on either side of her hips. “Yes?” he purred, eyebrow rising suggestively.

Hermione licked her lips, heat flooding her body. “Yes.”

His eyes were dark with lust as he stared down at her. A shimmer rippled through the air, and the wards and the silencing charm hummed against her skin. She thought she would combust if he didn't touch her soon. His nose touched against hers, and she stretched to capture his lips. He refused her, and she let out a whine. What was he playing at?

“Patience,” he mumbled, his breath washing over her skin.

“You're such a tease,” she said, the last word turning into a moan when he fastened his lips on her neck. Her nipples tightened, core clenching, and her knees shook. Steadying one hand next to his on the desk, she curled the other around his head. “Severus,” she sighed, letting her eyes fall closed.

She felt him hard and ready against her hip, and couldn't stop herself from gyrating her hips against his. She was awarded with a groan that sizzled through her body like fire. He was kissing and nibbling and sweet Circe, how she wanted him. As if he'd heard her, Severus lifted his head from her neck.

“Hands on the desk,” he commanded, and she almost came right there. He could say anything he wanted in that voice and she would be a puddle of need.

Hoping her shaky legs would hold her, Hermione spun around and planted her palms on the edge of the desk. Now that she couldn't see him, every touch felt heightened. She whimpered when he ran his hands up her legs – pushing her robes up at the same time – until she felt the cool air against her arse. Her knickers must be soaked by now.

His hands cupped her arse – making her push back against him – before he trailed his hand down between her legs.

“Fuck,” he swore, nudging her knickers aside and touching her skin. “Is this for me?”

“Yes.” Hermione's skin prickled, her fingers clenching against the wooden desk. “I need you inside me,” she gasped, hips moving against his fingers. “Now.”

His touch left her body, and Hermione spread her legs in anticipation. Cool air spilled over her; he had vanished her knickers, and she tried to calm her breathing. Then she felt him nudge at her entrance, one hand on her arse keeping her hips still. Slowly – so slowly it barely felt as if he was moving – he pushed inside her. Hermione's eyes rolled back and she inhaled sharply. His fingers clenched on her skin. Once he was settled as deep as he could, he stilled.

“Severus,” Hermione pleaded. “Move.”

“No,” he said, voice strained.

The seconds dragged on, and Hermione was nearly sobbing with need when he pulled out and thrust back in hard. She gasped. The pace he set was unrelenting, bordering on rough, and it made her see stars. Her back arched, fingers digging into the desk as she tried to hang on. He was hitting inside her just so, and the pressure built quickly, her stomach clenching. She squeezed her eyes shut. Oh god, oh god, oh god.

His grip on her hips was almost bruising, and she keened when he reached around to brush his fingers over her clit. She was almost there, hips bucking helplessly against him.

“Come for me, Hermione,” he spoke through clenched teeth.

Everything narrowed to his fingers and his cock, white noise filling her ears as her body spasmed and shook. She was falling, upper body collapsing onto the desk when her arms couldn't hold her up and she was only dimly aware that Severus was still moving inside her. Then he groaned and thrust hard a couple of times before stilling, hands still firmly gripping her hips. He rested his forehead between her shoulder blades, breath hot even through her robes.

The wood was cool under her flushed cheek, and she stretched out her fingers from their claw-like grip on the desk. She opened her eyes slowly.

“You all right?” Severus mumbled behind her, pressing a kiss against her clothed back before standing up.

“That was...” she trailed off with a chuckle. “I may have passed out for a second there.”

Severus let out a soft laugh, and he caressed the side of her hip as he let her robes fall back into place. “I thought I heard you snoring, but I didn't want to say anything.”

Testing standing up – which was doable, albeit shaky – Hermione faced him. He looked completely unfazed, buttoned up in his usual manner. Only his fast breathing and flushed cheeks spoke to him not being as composed as he seemed. She felt a mess in comparison: hair having long since escaped the chignon and her shaking thighs sticky with their combined fluids.

She pulled the pins from her hair and shook it out. “I need a shower, and maybe a nap.”

He smirked. “Another one, you mean?”

Hermione snorted and transfigured one of the pins into a hair tie and pulled it back into a ponytail. She had ten minutes before she was meeting Minerva – not long enough for a shower, but plenty of time to duck into her quarters to freshen up. Under no circumstances was she meeting Minerva with Severus Snape's cum coating her thighs.

“What are your plans for the rest of the evening?”

Severus smirked. “A shower, then maybe a nap.”

Hermione chuckled softly. “Enjoy your free time, then. I'll let Minerva know you're available for Hogsmeade duties next weekend. She'll be thrilled.”

“As long as you don't saddle me with Trelawney.”

“I can't make any promises; I think she's asked for you as a partner in particular.”

Severus rolled his eyes. “Then you can tell her I've already got one of those.”

Hermione froze. Did he mean... “I have to go or I'll be late. I'll see you in the morning.”

“All right.” He leaned in and brushed his lips against hers.

Once in her quarters, Hermione leaned against the closed door. What had he meant? That they would be on shared chaperoning duties in Hogsmeade, or something else? She wasn't sure she wanted to think about what that something else could mean. Glancing at the clock over the mantle, she shrieked seeing she had only four minutes before meeting Minerva and rushed to get ready.

The next few days, Hermione felt unsettled. Severus' words were looping constantly in her brain and she wasn't sure why. He'd called her his partner. If that was what he'd meant. They had been seeing each other for almost four months; four months of mind-blowing sex and conversations that weren't about Quidditch. He actually stimulated her mind, too. It terrified her.

Of course, he could have been meaning in a purely platonic way.

Yes, that seemed more likely.

The staff were granted free leave of one meal during the weekend, and Hermione took the opportunity to make a long-overdue visit to Grimmauld Place on Saturday night. Harry was out of town and Hermione hadn't seen Ginny since July. Before she started shagging Severus.

Bottle of red in hand – Ginny had only been too happy to leave little James at the Burrow for the evening – Hermione Apparated to London. It was warmer than in Scotland with a steady drizzle of rain, and Hermione knocked briskly on the door before entering.

“Hello?” she called out, closing the door and waving a drying spell over her clothes. “Ginny?”

“I'll be right down!” came Ginny's reply from upstairs.

Hanging up her coat, she went into the sitting room. It was much changed from when it used to be a dining room during the war; the walls were now a light blue and in the corner by the back door sat a big toy box.

Ginny entered the room. “Sorry to keep you waiting.” She placed a kiss on Hermione's cheek and plopped down on the sofa. “I fell asleep in the bath.”

Hermione chuckled. “Not having a toddler around your feet will do that. I assume your mum was happy to take James for the evening?”

Ginny snorted. “More than. Bill and Fleur are in Egypt – something to do with Gringotts – so Victoire is also staying with mum and dad.”

“She'll be happy as a clam, then.”

“I'll say. I've got a take away under a stasis in the kitchen, should I bring it up?”

“Please.”

They ate in the sitting room, chatting and drinking wine, and it made Hermione feel all warm inside – and not from the wine. Life at Hogwarts could be isolating, and she wasn't really close to anyone on the staff. Except for Severus.

Once the food and drink were gone, Ginny lit a fire and fetched another bottle of wine.

Hermione had always been a lightweight, and she felt the wine go straight to her head. Blinking took a bit more effort than usual, and she had thrown off her cardigan two glasses of wine ago. The last time she wore that particular cardigan was when Severus had sat her up on his desk and buried his head between her thighs. The memory made her flush.

“What are you thinking about? You got a strange look on your face.”

Hermione blinked. Maybe Ginny could offer some guidance; she was married after all. “Can I ask you something?”

Ginny's brows raised. “Yes?”

“How do you know if a bloke wants a relationship?”

She sat up quickly, almost swooshing her wine onto the carpet. “Have you found a bloke and not told me?”

Sweet Circe. “It's just a question.”

“That's thestral shite. Who is it? It's not that dimwit from the Ministry you dated last year, is it? I know he was pretty, Hermione, but he was a knob!”

Hermione snorted. “You mean Paul? No, I haven't spoken to him since Christmas.”

“Then who is it? You didn't mention anyone last time we spoke. Is it someone at Hogwarts?” She gasped. “Hermione, is it a student?”

The wine went down her windpipe, and Hermione sputtered. “Merlin, no! That's disgusting, Ginny.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “I'm not saying you would do anything. But you're young and attractive, it wouldn't be surprising if a student fancied you.”

“No, this is a man. A grown man, I mean.”

“I can't help you unless you tell me who it is.”

Hermione pinched the bridge of her nose. Ginny was as stubborn as a mule and would not let her leave without sharing the name.

“Don't you love me? If you loved me you would tell me who it is.”

“Ugh, fine! It's Snape, all right?”

Ginny looked taken aback. “Snape?”

Hermione sighed. “Yes. We've been shagging since August.”

Her jaw dropped. “You're shagging Snape?”

“Yes.”

“The Bat of the Dungeons?”

“Don't call him that, but yes.”

Ginny looked thoughtful for a second. “Is he good at it? He looks like he's good at it.”

Hermione relaxed against the sofa. “It's so good. Best sex I've ever had,” she admitted. “The way he makes me feel...” she trailed off, biting her lip. While she wasn't a prude – clearly, given the things she and Severus had done – it still felt weird to be so open about her sex life, even to Ginny. She took another sip of wine.

“You deserve a man who can give you amazing sex,” Ginny said frankly. “Why do you think he wants a relationship? I mean, he should because you're brilliant, but what makes you think so?”

Hermione shrugged. “He said something last week. It's probably nothing, but it just freaked me out a bit. I changed my mind, I don't want to talk about this anymore.”

“Fine.” Ginny smirked. “Then I want to know about what shagging Snape is like. How big is his cock?”

Hermione groaned.

“Are you sure you don't want to stay? The spare room is already made up.” Ginny said a few hours later when Hermione stood, swaying slightly.

“I've got so much marking to do tomorrow, and I can't miss breakfast,” Hermione said, wandlessly summoning her coat. “But thank you for tonight, I really needed this.”

Ginny hugged her tightly. “Keep me updated, yeah?”

“I will.” Hermione stepped into the Floo – she was too inebriated to Apparate – and called out for her quarters.

She only swayed slightly stepping out of the hearth and swallowed the nausea. She could use a Sober Up potion, or else she would be useless in the morning. It was barely midnight, so Severus was probably still awake. She bit her lip. Could she? She could. Stealing a glance in the mirror – she looked a bit glassy-eyed, but otherwise fine – she trekked down to the dungeons.

Shivering despite her coat, Hermione cast a warming charm on herself. By the time she opened the door down to the dungeons, she already felt fairly sobered up. It was even colder down there, and she walked faster.

“Granger?”

Severus stood in the corridor in front of her, wrapped in a thick black cloak. He must have just come back from patrol.

“Oh, hello Severus. I was just looking for you.”

His brow quirked. “You were looking for me,” he repeated. “Why?”

“Do you perchance have any Sober Up potion ready?”

He jerked his head. “Inside.”

Once inside his quarters, Hermione was pushed up against his closed door with his tongue in her mouth. She moaned, tangling her fingers in his hair. Gods, he was good at this.

Then he pulled back, and she whimpered.

“Have you been drinking?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Yes. I told you I needed a Sober Up potion.” Then she bit her lip. “Though I'd very much like to continue this once I've had some.”

He smirked, trailing a hand down her side and over her hip. “Come on, then.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER THREE

Something tickled Severus' face. His brow furrowed in irritation, nose twitching. A floral scent assaulted his senses, and he opened his eyes.

Hermione was pressed against his front, his nose buried in her hair and his hand resting between her breasts. She was still asleep, chest moving rhythmically. It was the first time they had spent the entire night together since term started, and he had forgotten how good it felt to wake up next to her. She fit so perfectly against him. The room was dark, and he cast a quick Tempus. It was barely morning. He settled back down; they had plenty of time until breakfast.

Hermione sighed softly, and he stilled. Was she waking up? A few seconds went by, and she didn't move. He supposed she wasn't. Closing his eyes, he nudged his nose further into her hair and inhaled deeply. Tuberose, definitely, and orange blossoms. Something fruity as well... He inhaled again. Raspberries.

Mystery solved, he slowed his breathing to match hers.

When he awoke the next time, Hermione was no longer pressed against him. Rustling and low mumbling came from the side of the bed, and he sat. Hermione was picking up her discarded clothes from the bedroom floor, still naked.

“Knickers, where are my knickers,” she muttered.

Seeing a scrap of purple lace by the foot of the bed, Severus chuckled and reached for them. “Looking for these?”

Hermione turned around, and her face flushed seeing her knickers dangling from his fingers. “Yes thank you.”

She moved forward to grab them, but Severus snatched her arm and captured her mouth. She sighed, pressing against him. Swinging his legs out in front of him, he tugged her onto his lap and wrapped his arms around her waist. Her breasts pressed against his bare chest and he rocked his hips against her.

Hermione tore her mouth from his. “Severus,” she whimpered breathlessly. “We'll be late for breakfast.”

He fastened his lips on her neck and hummed against her skin. “I've got my breakfast right here.”

Encouraging her to lean back, he left wet kisses before drawing a nipple into his mouth. Keening, her thighs tightened around his hips. Severus smirked and dipped a hand between them, finding her wet centre.

“Not fair,” she moaned, hips moving against his touch.

Severus knew exactly how to play her – how to make her a blubbering mess – and he did; deepening the thrusts of his fingers and scraping his teeth against her nipple until she flew apart, panting and writhing on top of him. Watching her come down was almost as enjoyable as watching her climax: eyes still closed, she licked her lips, hips moving lazily against him.

Her eyes opened slowly, lids heavy. “Thank you.” She brushed her mouth against his. “Now we're definitely going to be late for breakfast,” she said against his mouth.

Before he could stop her she climbed off him – snatching her knickers from where he'd dropped them on the bed – and started to get dressed.

“You shouldn't have let me spend the night,” she said, shimmying into her skirt. “I can't be seen coming from your quarters this early.”

Severus snorted, standing and reaching for his trousers. “You fell asleep on top of me, what was I supposed to do? Kick you out of the bed?”

She chuckled, folding her coat over her arm. “Yes, do that next time. May I use your Floo?”

“Of course.”

Walking past, she touched his chest – casual, fleeting touch, like a habit. “I'll see you at breakfast.”

Severus couldn't wait.

It took several days for Hermione to stop berating herself for falling asleep in Severus' quarters. Their one unwritten rule was to never spend the night. As they were both Heads of Houses it was too risky in case a student came to them with an emergency. It had just been too tempting; she had been bone-tired after the wine – unfortunately Sober Up couldn't help with that – and a couple of rounds of shagging and he had been warm against her skin. Where he got the energy – or stamina – from she wasn't sure, but she sure as hell wasn't complaining.

Still, it had not been wise to fall asleep. Even though it was the best sleep she'd had in months.

December rolled in with another drop in temperature and several inches of powdery snow. Hermione much preferred the crisp air of a snowy day over the dark and wet November weather. She wore her chunkiest jumpers and knit socks, drank a lot of hot chocolate and decorated her quarters for the holiday. She spent the first Saturday of the month helping Hagrid levitate the giant Christmas trees into the castle. The previous year he had tried to get them in by himself and had taken out a group of first-years, so McGonagall had ordered him to recruit help.

“Where do you want this one, Hagrid?” Hermione asked, keeping her eyes and wand on the levitating tree in front of her.

“By the suit of armour, please. Oh, hello, Professor Snape.”

“Morning, Hagrid,” came Severus' deep voice from behind her. “Do you need a hand?”

“No, that's all right. Hermione is being an excellent help.”

“I'm sure she is.”

Hermione put down the Christmas tree where Hagrid had shown her and lowered her wand. “Do you want help with the holly too, Hagrid?”

Hagrid smiled and set down the final tree, the branches wobbling. “Let's give the trees some time to settle in first. Could you help tomorrow as well?”

In the corner of her eye, she saw Severus stalk towards the staff room. Why was he always stalking? “Of course. Come find me after breakfast and I'll help.”

“Thanks a lot, Hermione.”

She smiled. “No problem.”

What possessed her to gravitate towards the staff room, she wasn't sure: she had lesson plans to write and a meeting with the Gryffindor prefects to organise.

The staff room was almost empty, bar the dark form of Severus pouring himself a cup of tea. He twisted his head when the door shut behind her and smirked, raising an eyebrow.

“You put that down,” Hermione said. “I just want some tea.”

“If you say so,” he purred. “Sit, I'll fetch your tea.”

Hermione took a seat in her favourite bergère armchair by the fire. “You're still available for chaperoning Hogsmeade next weekend, I hope?”

“I said I would be.” Severus placed a cup of tea on the table between the armchairs and took a seat. “I assume I will be chaperoning with you, and not Trelawney?”

Hermione hummed around her cup of tea. It was perfect. Of course it was. “Sybill will not be chaperoning; apparently something terrible is due to happen on Friday so she's going to stay with a friend for the weekend.” She barely fought the urge to roll her eyes.

Severus snorted. “That's convenient.”

“Very. Are you going to the Order Christmas party this year?”

He nodded. “If I don't, Minerva will drag me down by my ear.”

Hermione chuckled at the image. Harry had hosted the annual Order Christmas party at Grimmauld Place since the end of the war. In the seven years since then it had become the highlight of the festive season, usually taking place a few days before Christmas. It was the one time of year they all gathered in the same place, and the food and alcohol was always excellent.

He fastened his gaze to the falling snow outside the window. “Since we're both attending, it would be reasonable that we go to London together. Maybe at 7 o'clock?"

Hermione's pulse raced. “I'm going over early to help Ginny set up, so it's best if we meet there.” It wasn't a complete lie; she was helping Ginny, but that was earlier in the day, and she would be back at Hogwarts before the party to get ready. “You really don't want to be around Harry for any longer than necessary.”

He snorted, looking back at her. “A valid point.”

She took another sip of tea. “I'm not sure why you go, honestly. You don't even like anyone in the Order.”

“That's not true. I'm quite fond of the eldest Weasley.”

Hermione rolled her eyes.

“It's amusing to see people squirm at my being there,” he said with a shrug. “Maybe this year I'll find something else to keep me entertained.” He smirked, eyes roaming over her body.

She bit her lip.

“Ugh, Severus, yes, right there,” Hermione gasped, flinging her head back.

After finishing her itinerary for the day, she had gone down to Severus' office to discuss the upcoming Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Then, somehow her shirt came off.

Her skirt was hitched around her waist, knickers pushed to the side as she rose and fell on his cock.

Severus' hands tightened on her waist as he jerked her down harder. “Fuck,” he swore through clenched teeth as he came, hips slapping against hers.

Hermione whimpered, bringing her hand between them to rub her clit. She was so close.

He growled. “You're so fucking beautiful. Come for me, Hermione.”

A couple of thrusts later and she gasped out her climax, twitching on top of him and clenching her hand around his shoulder. He grasped her chin, tilting it down so he could kiss her. She smiled against his lips, raising her hand from between them to wrap around his neck. But he intercepted her movement, taking her hand and wrapping his lips around her wet fingers. He moaned, and her eyes fluttered closed. He would be the death of her.

“Not a bad way to end the day,” she half-chuckled, half-moaned as she climbed off. Her legs were wobbly, and she felt like a newborn giraffe.

“I even got pudding.” Severus smirked, waving a cleansing charm over them both before tucking himself back into his trousers.

Hermione snorted, pushing her knickers back into place and straightening her skirt. “Lucky you.” The cold dungeon air prickled the bare skin of her torso into goosebumps. Her bra had been slung over his desk, and she put it on quickly.

“Here.” Severus held her shirt open and she put her arms through the sleeves. Carefully spinning her around, he reached for the top button.

Her pulse raced as he finished buttoning her shirt, then bent and brushed his lips against hers. Despite all they had done together, that felt the most intimate. After saying goodbye Hermione practically fled his office, cloak wrapped tightly around her to hide the disarray of her clothes.

She spent the next few days feeling paranoid, overanalysing every word and gesture he made. If he took note of her odd behaviour, he didn't let on. With only two weeks left until the winter hols, things were busy, and Hermione didn't see Severus outside mealtimes.

On Friday evening – the night before the Hogsmeade trip – she finished her marking early. Stretching, she looked at the time and bit her lip. Severus didn't have the weekend patrol. After a quick change of clothes, she Flooed to his quarters.

She found him on the sofa, reading a book and holding a half-empty tumbler of amber liquid.

He lowered his book, and his eyes were dark and glittering as they regarded her. “What a lovely surprise.”

Heat pooled in her stomach as she unfastened her robes and let them fall to the floor. She had bought the barely-there lingerie set on a whim in the sales – the midnight blue lace reminded her of the night sky – but there hadn't been an opportunity to wear it. Judging by the way Severus' breath hitched, it was safe to say he approved.

“An even lovelier surprise,” he purred, tossing his book to the side and putting his glass on the side table. “Whatever have I done to deserve such a gift?” Widening his legs, he rubbed himself leisurely.

Hermione stepped forwards, running her hand over her stomach towards the edge of her knickers. “Do you want an itemised list?”

Her shins bumped against his knees, and the fabric of his trousers felt rough against her thighs when she straddled him. He cupped her arse, groaned at feeling bare skin, and rocked his hips against hers. She moaned, grasping the back of the sofa and rubbing her chest against his.

His kisses started at her neck, with a gentle nipping of her skin that made her breath hitch. Down over her collarbone – all while his hips moved languidly against hers – and then he placed open-mouthed kisses between her breasts.

“Fuck, you're perfect,” he panted, one hand leaving her arse to push down the cups on her bra.

Her eyes fluttered closed and she bit back a moan when his lips wrapped around her nipple. He used his fingers masterfully on the other, flicking and tugging the hard tip. The joint feeling of his mouth and fingers combined with his hips sliding against her was melting her brain.

Through the dizzy fog of arousal, she realised he was speaking quietly against her skin.

“So beautiful, fuck, Hermione. Mine,” he growled, nipping at her breast.

It was like someone had doused cold water over her body. Her hips stilled, eyes snapping open. All her thoughts and insecurities from the past weeks washed over her.

Severus dropped his hands from her breasts, settling on her waist. “Hermione?”

“I can't do this. I have to go.” She crawled to her feet – somewhat shakily – and reached for her robes, frantically shrugging them over her head.

Severus caught her arm gently. “Wait. What's wrong?”

She bit her lip. His face was open, cheeks flushed and lips swollen. There was a large wet spot on the crotch of his trousers. She felt ill.

“What is this?”

His brow furrowed. “Hermione, what are you talking about?”

“This thing that we're doing. What is this to you? What am I to you?”

Rarely had she seen him lost for words – usually when his cock was in her mouth – and she didn't recognise the look in his eyes.

He cleared his throat. “You're someone I care about, very much. I want you, and I want us. Officially.”

Her stomach dropped, panic edging through her body. “You do?”

Severus nodded, looking more sure of himself. “I do. I want a future with you, Hermione. Not just a quick shag whenever our schedules allow us to.”

Oh God. Her stomach tightened.

“I don't.” Her voice was quiet, almost lost in the crackling of the fire.

He looked like she'd slapped him; face going pale before two pink spots appeared on his cheeks.

“What we have is good, isn't it?” she continued, voice pleading. “Why change that?”

In an instant, his face became an unreadable mask. “That is how you feel?”

Biting her lip, Hermione nodded. She didn't trust herself to speak.

“Then we are done here. Please remove yourself from my quarters, Professor Granger.”

Something shattered inside her, and she took a step forwards. “Severus-”

“I'll thank you not to use such familiarity with me,” he hissed.

His tone made her recoil. Her eyes burnt, and she blinked furiously. She did not want him to see her cry. Hoping to leave with whatever dignity she had left, she pulled her robes tighter around her and headed for the Floo. As she was tugged away, something smashed against the wall.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FOUR

Severus hadn't realised how much it would hurt seeing Hermione step outside the front doors and walk towards him in the winter sunshine, knowing she was no longer his. That she never was and didn't want to be.

After she left his quarters the previous evening, he had smashed the jar of Floo powder against the wall and spent the rest of the night drinking firewhisky and staring into the fireplace, willing her to come back. Which of course she hadn't. He had fallen into a drunken slumber in the early hours of the morning, and when his alarm went off he nearly blasted the bloody thing to shreds.

He took his breakfast in his quarters; having to endure a Hogsmeade trip by Hermione's side seemed cruel enough without adding in sitting next to her in the Great Hall. Before leaving his quarters he downed a Sober Up potion and an Invigoration Draught. They didn't make him feel any better.

“Hello, Severus,” her voice was soft, unsure. A thick Gryffindor striped scarf covered the lower part of Hermione's face, and her hands were stuck in her pockets.

He wrapped his heart in steel. “Professor Granger.”

She blinked and looked away.

Severus walked stiffly next to her down to Hogsmeade. This wasn't how he'd imagined it going – and he had imagined it. They would talk and flirt, and she would let him buy her a Butterbeer and then pull her into the alleyway between Tomes and Scrolls and Ceridwen's Cauldrons to kiss her. Maybe he even would have plucked up the courage to ask her on a real date. But it was an impossible future.

The students dispersed once they reached Hogsmeade, and Severus very much wanted the day to be over. He did his errands seemingly on autopilot – filling a new order for the spring term at the apothecary and picking up a few bottles of red ink for his marking in Scrivenshaft's.

Stepping back onto the Main Street, he spotted Hermione's bushy hair over by Honeydukes. His stomach dropped when he recognised the man she was talking to. Anthony Goldstein had joined the faculty that year as the Muggle Studies teacher, and Severus had disliked him on the spot. Seeing Hermione laugh at something Goldstein said caused a pain between Severus' ribs.

That blithering idiot could never give her what Severus could. He hadn't touched or kissed every inch of her skin. He didn't know how to make her soak the bed, or that she was embarrassed by how turned on she got being on her knees with his cock in her mouth. A part of him – the logical and less angry part – knew that he was being unreasonable, but he chose not to listen to it. It was better to be angry than hurt.

Hermione turned in his direction, and Severus quickly ducked into Tomes and Scrolls.

“Ah, Severus!” Mr Bailey, the proprietor, greeted him with a smile. “How fortunate that you're here; I was just about to send you an owl. Your order just arrived this morning,” the older man continued, turning his back to Severus and searching through the many shelves behind the till. “Now where did I put it... Oh, it's right here.” He placed a thin volume bound in midnight blue leather on the counter.

Severus' heart dropped. It had completely slipped his mind. He had inquired about a first edition by 19th century Arithmancer Isabel Hopkins almost two months ago after listening to Hermione speak at length about the groundbreaking work Hopkins had done. The plan had been to give it to her on Christmas morning – preferably in bed – and he could almost imagine the look on her face when she opened it. But that was then, in the before.

He swallowed. “Thank you, Mr Bailey.”

“It's no worries! Do you want me to wrap it up?”

Severus nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

Leaving the shop – gift-wrapped book securely put away in his cloak pocket – he found Hermione waiting for him. He strode past her without a glance.

“Severus, wait!”

It took everything in him to ignore her large brown eyes and keep walking. It had started snowing, and he tightened his scarf around his neck.

Then her hand wrapped around his shoulder, and he spun around. She recoiled, and her foot slipped on a patch of ice. Severus acted on instinct, grabbing her elbows to pull her upright. The world stilled around them. Her gloved hands clasped his forearms, body only inches from his own. His eyes drifted down to her mouth. Tiny snowflakes dotted her dark lashes, and she blinked twice.

Severus stepped back, almost shoving her away from him. He forced a sneer onto his face. “I have nothing to say to you.”

Her chin wobbled. “Severus, please.”

The book burnt a hole in his pocket as he walked away.

After Miss Hearth's detention that evening, Severus Flooed to Wiltshire.

Malfoy Manor had lost much of its splendour after the war; between dark magic items being seized and debts being paid it had taken on a gloomy and sad atmosphere. You wouldn't know by looking at Lucius, who still wore opulent clothing and acted as though it was all just an annoying inconvenience.

“I wasn't expecting you,” Lucius said as Severus was shown into the drawing-room by a small house-elf. “The polite thing to do is to call before visiting.”

“You're on house-arrest,” Severus said with a roll of his eyes, removing his cloak and taking a seat on the brocade camelback sofa. “What other pressing matters could you have to attend to?”

Lucius shrugged. “I could have been in the bath. Noory, fetch Severus something to drink.”

“Yes, Master Lucius.” The elf bowed and disappeared with a pop.

“Where's Narcissa?” Severus asked, resting his arm on the backrest.

“In Shropshire visiting Andromeda and little Edward.”

“Ah.”

After the war, the Malfoys had been sentenced to house-arrest; Lucius still had three years left on his decade long sentence while Narcissa's had ended just a few months prior. Draco, due to his youth, had only served for a few months and had then left Britain altogether. Last Severus heard of him, he was doing business in France and was engaged to the youngest Greengrass sister.

Noory popped back into the room, carrying a tray with two goblets and a decanter of wine. Severus drank deeply. Many things could be said about Lucius – most of them true – but his collection of wine was unmatched, even on house-arrest.

“Why are you really here?” Lucius finally said. “I know that look, something is bothering you.”

Severus huffed and refilled his goblet.

“Is this about the Granger girl?”

His eyebrows rose. “How did you know about that?”

Lucius shrugged. “I have my sources.”

“She's not a girl.” Severus sighed. “But yes, your powers of deduction are correct.”

“Merlin, what it is about you and Gryffindor Mud- Muggle-borns.”

Severus gave him a seething look. “I'm not above putting Flobberworm mucus in your shampoo.”

Lucius waved his hand. “Yes, yes. Now, what is the problem with Granger?”

For some reason he wasn't quite sure of – and he wouldn't rule out Veritaserum in his wine – Severus told Lucius everything. Well, not quite everything, as Lucius didn't need to know the details of his sex life, but the gist of it.

Once he stopped talking, Lucius' eyebrows were practically up in his hairline. “I see.” Was all he said.

“Is that all you have to say?”

“Clearly spending time with Potter and Weasley has deteriorated her brain cells.” Lucius shrugged. “There are many suitable women who would love to share your bed, just pick another one.”

Severus snorted. “Such a romantic.”

“I'm not sure what it is you want me to say. You know I have no love for the Granger girl – we never got the blood out of the carpet and had to order a new one from France – and I don't see what your fascination with her is.”

He sighed. “Forget I said anything.”

“Gladly. Did I mention my new boots arrived from Italy yesterday? Thestral leather, very soft.”

Severus scowled and took another sip of wine.

The library was dark and quiet. All the students were in bed, as was Madam Pince. The threadbare carpet was soft under Hermione's feet as she crept along the Transfiguration section. An owl hooted somewhere beyond the closed windows.

There was a light, somewhere ahead. Hermione's brow furrowed as she walked towards it. Students weren't allowed in the library after hours. She raised her wand.

“Who's there?”

Unsurprisingly, she got no reply.

The light was closer now, so close she could see it was a lantern, placed on the table by the window. She rounded the stacks, heart pounding. A dark figure in a black cloak stood by the bookcase, pale hand caressing the spines of the books. She recognised the profile of the hooked nose and thin lips immediately.

She lowered her wand. “Severus? What are you doing here?”

He twisted his head towards her, face half in shadow. “You're late, Miss Granger.”

Her brow furrowed. “Late for what?”

Hermione shrieked when he grabbed her arm and slammed her against the bookcase. She barely had time to catch her breath before his mouth was on hers, tongue demanding entrance. She opened herself to him with a moan. Then she was floating, his hands cupping her arse and lifting her until she was perched on the wooden ladder next to them. Her legs wrapped around his hips, pulling him against her. She gasped when he fisted a hand in her hair, pulling back firmly and exposing the length of her throat. His lips fastened on her neck; kissing, nibbling and licking until her brain had shut down and she rubbed wantonly against him.

Severus shoved a hand between her legs, pushed her knickers aside and entered her in a swift thrust. The back of her head banged against the shelf and she gripped the sides of the ladder tightly, lest he fuck her right off it and onto the floor. She tightened her thighs around his hips, back arching off the ladder. He felt so good.

His nimble fingers pulled off her tie and tore open her shirt – why was she wearing her school uniform? - exposing her chest. She groaned. She was going to come. Heat flooded in her stomach, her grip on the ladder tightened and within seconds her body shook and trembled with her climax. He kept pushing into her, and she moaned as he slid against her oversensitive flesh. His grip on her hips turned bruising, the suction on her neck increased and he growled as he came.

Severus lifted his head from her neck, his black eyes bore into hers. He sneered. “50 points to Gryffindor.”

Hermione woke abruptly, her chest heaving and core throbbing. Throwing an arm over her eyes, she groaned. The half-dream, half-memory made her want to cry. It had been a week since the disastrous Hogsmeade visit, and Severus hadn't spoken two words to her since. She didn't blame him, but it still hurt to have him treat her like... well, everyone else. Her evenings seemed much longer and darker. She had organised her wardrobe twice, but it didn't give her the same satisfying feeling as it used to. She incinerated the lace set she had worn to his chambers that night. She couldn't bear to look at it anymore.

Ignoring the arousal left behind from the dream – it felt wrong to act on it, and depriving herself of the pleasure was her form of self-flagellation – she hopped into the shower. Images from her dream still ran through her mind. Some parts had been made up by her subconscious – her school uniform had never been a part of their sex life – but others were painful reminders. Severus had pulled her behind the Arithmancy stacks one late night, wrapped wards around them and buried his head between her thighs. She had practically bitten a hole in her lip trying to keep quiet. Then he had hoisted her trembling legs around his waist and fucked her against the bookshelf, hand over her mouth and face buried in her neck. She shivered.

Hermione dragged her feet getting ready for breakfast – seeing Severus would be torture. It was the first day of the winter hols, and she should have been looking forward to having two weeks to unwind and relax. But she wasn't. And it was her own fault.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER FIVE

Hermione had barely been at Grimmauld Place for five minutes before Ginny asked her what was wrong.

Hands wrapped around a mug of tea, Hermione shared everything: from Severus throwing her from his quarters to the disastrous Hogsmeade visit and the frosty silence in the days since.

“I don't know what to do,” she admitted, eyes on James as he played on the floor with a tiny model of a dragon.

“Hermione Granger, you absolute dolt!”

Hermione tore her eyes from the playing toddler to Ginny, who had been setting up a pine garland around the fireplace mantel. With her hands on her hips like that, she looked frighteningly like Mrs Weasley.

“What?”

“You suspected Snape wanted a relationship over a month ago; why didn't you ask him then?”

Hermione's mouth opened, then closed. “Honestly, I'm not sure.”

Ginny raised her eyebrows, looking even more like her mother. It was unnerving. “I think you do know, and it terrifies you.”

Looking at the milky liquid in her mug, Hermione didn't respond.

Ginny sat next to her. “I don't know him as well as you do, but from what you've told me it seems like Snape really cares about you.”

Hermione swallowed the lump in her throat. “He does.” Or did.

“Then what are you so afraid of? You obviously have some kind of feelings for him, otherwise you wouldn't be shagging him.”

Hermione sipped her tea, unsure of how to answer.

Hermione was put up in the guest room on the first floor, the same one she had stayed in with Ginny the summer after her fourth year. It had changed drastically since then, the brown wallpaper stripped off and the creaky single beds changed for sage green paint and light fabrics.

She got ready for the party with care – straightened her slightly wonky eyeliner with a charm and smoothed down her hair before deeming herself fit. She ran a hand over the soft fabric of her skirt, not willing to admit to herself she had chosen the dress with Severus in mind, despite not knowing whether he would be there. Putting on her heels, she sheathed her wand and left the room.

Harry waited for her in the hall, leaning against the wall and looking uncomfortable with his hands stuck in his trouser pockets. “You, uh, look nice,” he said.

Poor Harry, he hadn't yet come to terms with the fact that she was female.

“Thanks. You too.”

He ran his fingers through his hair and wouldn't meet her eyes. “Before you go downstairs, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Oh?”

He grimaced. “I overheard you and Gin talking earlier. I wasn't eavesdropping! I just happened to walk by and hear some things.”

Her heart beat faster. “What things?”

He cleared his throat. “Are you shagging Snape?”

Shite. “Not anymore.”

His eyes found hers. “But you were?”

She nodded, and he looked slightly green.

“I don't want you to make a big deal,” she said sternly. “My private life is none of your business.”

“I know that,” Harry said, looking quite offended. “But blimey, Hermione. It's Snape!”

She was transported back to Hogwarts, listening to Harry's endless rants about how Snape was the cause of all evils. Thank Circe he had stopped that after the war.

“I'm quite aware of who he is. And like I said, I'm not seeing him anymore.”

He frowned. “Did he hurt you? I will hex him if he did.”

Hermione smiled sadly and shook her head. “I hurt him. Just...” She sighed. “Don't say anything to him, please?”

“Of course not.” Harry winced. “Can you imagine his face if I tried to? He would probably hex me.”

Hermione chuckled. That was exactly what Severus would do.

“Stop scowling,” Minerva said as they appeared on the doorstep to Grimmauld Place.

Severus scowled harder. He had planned on staying home; drinking firewhisky, feeling sorry for himself and imagining some faceless berk flirting with Hermione. But Minerva had intercepted him at lunch and guilt-tripped him into coming. He'd had no choice, really.

Minerva used the lion-shaped knocker – Merlin, that was a bit on the nose, wasn't it? – and the door swung open, bringing a surge of heat, light and laughter into the cold night.

Mrs Potter smiled widely at them. The toddler on her hip looked enough like its namesake to put Severus in a bad mood. “Hello! Welcome, and come on in.”

Being in that house once a year was far too often, as far as Severus was concerned. Even he could admit it was much improved since the war; least of all not because the portrait of Mrs Black had been banished for good. It had taken him and Bill Weasley three days to silence it and unstick it from the wall without taking out too many of the bricks.

Soft Christmas music of the Muggle variety played through hidden speakers, and the magically expanded dining and sitting room was filled with people. He saw most of the Weasleys – both by birth and by marriage – as well as almost two dozen other Order Members with their partners. He told himself he wasn't looking for Hermione – it was a big house, after all – as he stepped into the room.

He saw her immediately.

She stood near the fireplace with Weasley and Longbottom, gesturing in the air with a slim arm and laughing. His mouth went very dry. She looked... There weren't words. The navy dress shimmered as she moved, and he swallowed sharply at seeing a large expanse of her bare back. He could practically feel the softness of her skin against his palm. His fingers twitched.

Before he could look away, she turned her head, brown eyes locking on his. Time slowed down. In another world he saw himself approaching her, placing a hand on her back. Maybe lower his mouth to her ear and mutter something suggestive. Smell her shampoo and the warmth from her skin.

Someone clapped him on the back, and the moment was gone.

“Severus, I'm glad you came!”

He tried not to glower too much at Arthur Weasley. Honestly, he was quite fond of the man.

Severus was not, however, very fond of Slughorn, and repeatedly dodged the other man's attempts at conversation during the night. He had been hounding Severus for months about getting in on the patent for a nerve-regenerating potion, and frankly, Severus would rather listen to Lucius talk about shoes for the rest of eternity than partner with Slughorn.

After refilling his wine – which was enjoyable, albeit not as high end as Lucius' collection – he found himself face to face with Ginevra Potter. He had a sudden flashback to being at her wedding almost two years prior. She had been a radiant bride – and not only because of the bump her white robes hadn't been able to hide – and had spoken to him as though he was a friend.

Her eyebrow was quirked in a manner eerily like her mother when she was displeased, and he had a feeling this conversation would not be as jovial.

Severus swallowed. “She told you?”

“She did.”

“And yet here I stand, unhexed.”

“Why would I hex you?” Ginevra sighed. “I don't know what your next move is, and it's none of my business, but please don't give up on her yet.”

His grip tightened around his glass. “Oh?”

“She's scared. I don't know why, but she is.” She paused. “I can tell she cares for you, so if you still care for her, give her time.”

Someone called her name, and she smiled slightly before leaving him alone with his thoughts.

Hermione's heart had all but leapt from her chest at Severus' form in her peripheral vision, and when their eyes met she had forgotten how to breathe. He looked striking, his dress robes emphasising his broad shoulders and the curve of his waist. She wanted to cross the room, run her hands over his chest and bury her face in his neck. But her feet wouldn't move.

As the party went on, he was never far from her line of vision, and it made him ignoring her that much more painful. He seemed to be making an effort to engage in conversation, and for a few minutes she even saw him speaking – albeit looking very disinterested – to Harry.

Coming upstairs from the kitchen – where she may or may not have been stuffing her face with date and blue cheese canapés – she found Severus in the entryway, looking at the moving figures in a photograph on the wall.

She froze.

He looked displeased to see her, and she tried to ignore how much that hurt.

She moved closer and attempted a smile. “Hello.” They were adults, after all. They should be able to have a casual conversation. “Enjoying the party?”

“Quite,” he replied.

She wanted to say something else – comment on the weather or anything to keep him talking to her, but nothing came out. The photograph he had been regarding was one of Harry and Ginny's wedding pictures, and her stomach did a swoop seeing her own smiling form stood next to Ginny, an invisible breeze blowing her hair around her face. Why was he looking at that?

Then she found she couldn't move, and panic rose within her. One of George's bloody mistletoes hovered over her head, sparkling ominously in the dim light. She had been subjected to another one earlier in the evening – thankfully it had accepted the peck on the cheek Charlie Weasley had given her - and knew she wouldn't be able to move until someone kissed her.

Sweet Merlin. Severus would have to kiss her. Or leave her standing frozen in the hallway. She was going to kill George – or at least tear off his other ear.

Severus raised his wand, and purple sparks shot from it as he cast a silent spell. The mistletoe gave a sad screech and went up in flames, falling onto the carpet. Her heart sank. He didn't want her anymore.

Finding that she could move again, she breezed past him and up the stairs.

The drawing room lay dark and quiet. Hermione paced the length of it, trying to stop herself from bursting into tears. What had she done? She sank down on the sofa and buried her face in her hands. She had really fucked up. The feelings coursing through her made her stomach ache: longing, fear, wanting.

Gods, how she wanted him.

But she was so scared. Letting people in always led to hurt, to abandonment. To resentment. She couldn't bear to have Severus look at her with resentment. Not when being with him was the surest thing she had done in years.

“Hermione?”

She flew to her feet.

Severus stood by the door, cloaked in shadow.

Her heart pounded against her ribcage. “What do you want?”

“Are you all right?”

She scoffed. “Do you care?”

The room turned silent but for the sounds of music and talking from downstairs.

“Of course, I do,” he finally said, so low she almost missed it. “Do you?”

Her mouth opened, then closed. This was her moment: her opportunity to tell him everything, to bare herself before him. She wanted to, so badly. Why couldn't she?

“I should get back to the party,” she said, crossing the room and reaching for the doorknob.

The door slammed shut, Severus' hand on the wood next to her head. Her bare shoulder brushed against his chest. She closed her eyes and took a shaky breath. His scent washed over her, brought her back to his taste on her tongue and how he felt in her hands, between her thighs. Inside of her.

“Hermione,” he murmured, and she whimpered.

She spun around as he surged forward, mouths coming together in a clash of teeth and lips and tongue. Her back hit the door with a thud and he shoved a knee between her thighs. Her hands ran the length of his back and torso, not quite knowing where to settle but knowing she needed to touch him. He splayed his fingers over the bare skin of her back, groaning into her mouth. She ground her throbbing core against his knee. His hand found the slit in her dress, wrapped around her thigh and hiked it around his hip before thrusting against her. Hermione cried out and threw her head back against the door. His breath was hot against her neck. Her hard nipples rubbed against the inside of her dress. She reached between them to unzip his trousers. She was wet and she needed him inside her.

The moment her hand cupped his cock through his trousers, he froze against her. She stilled, feeling his cock twitch beneath her palm. Her eyes opened.

“I cannot do this,” he said against her neck.

“Severus,” she whispered, voice broken.

He pushed away from her, and she slumped against the door. In the faint light from the street lights shining through the windows she saw his flushed cheeks and his cock straining against his trousers. He looked defeated, and she hated that it was her fault.

“It's not enough.” His voice was barely audible, but he might as well have been shouting.

Hermione did the only thing she could think of; she fled the room.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER SIX

Hermione woke on Christmas morning with a throbbing core and the whisper of Severus' touch on her body. Every night since their tryst in the drawing-room at the Order Christmas party – which was three, but who was counting? – she had awoken on the cusp of climax, still feeling the weight of his body against hers.

As she stretched out her legs, her feet bumped against something solid by the foot of her bed. Opening a bleary eye, she spotted several Christmas presents in different shapes and sizes, and she stretched before reaching for the first one. She took her time opening them, enjoying guessing which gift was from whom without looking at the card. The gift card for Flourish and Blotts was from Ron (he gave her one every Christmas and birthday), the earrings were from Harry and Ginny (with a drawing of what looked suspiciously like a turd from James) and the abundance of mince pies was from Molly and Arthur. Going through the pile took a depressingly short amount of time – though she guessed correctly on every single one – until only one present remained.

There was no note or card, and it made her pulse quicken. She carefully peeled away the plain brown paper to reveal a thin book bound in dark blue leather. She gasped. Only one person knew how much she wanted that book: Severus. He had bought it, there was no other explanation.

Her mind whirred as she got ready for the day. Why had he given her the book after the way they left things? He wasn't a giving person by nature; he was frequently vindictive and petty and she was under no illusion that he'd do something like that just to be nice. Even if he had bought the book in the before, there was no chance he would give it to her if he was still angry.

Clinging to that bit of optimism, Hermione went down for breakfast. The round table in the Great Hall was almost empty – it was still early enough that the students were still in bed. Heart pounding, she bypassed the empty seat next to Hagrid and slid onto the chair next to Severus. His eyes didn't leave The Daily Prophet in front of him, but the hand raising his coffee cup to his mouth faltered for a split second before continuing upwards.

“Thank you for the book,” she said, reaching for the teapot.

His fingers twitched around the paper. “Don't mention it.”

She smiled around her tea.

The library lay quiet and empty. Hermione meandered through the stacks, taking advantage of the silence. It was still her favourite place at Hogwarts, where she went when she needed to think. Something about the smell of the books and wood cleared her mind. Her feet made no sound on the threadbare carpet, where thousands upon thousands of students and professors had walked before her.

She didn't have anything planned until later that evening – tea with Hagrid – so she chose her favourite spot; a plush armchair in an alcove hidden from the main path of the library, and cracked open the worn copy of Hogwarts: A History. Getting lost in the familiar words, she startled when she heard voices from the other side of the stacks.

“You're certain I can't convince you to reconsider?” McGonagall's Scottish brogue was easily recognisable.

“I'm afraid not.” As was Severus' velvety voice, and Hermione's breath hitched in her throat.

“We'll be sorry to see you go. And finding a replacement won't be easy,” McGonagall said.

Severus chuckled. “I'll give you some suggestions.”

Their voices got fainter as they moved away, and Hermione didn't hear how McGonagall answered.

Her fingers were white as they clenched the sides of the book. Severus was leaving. Sweet Merlin, she was losing him. Her chest tightened. He couldn't leave. Not before she...

Hermione quenched a sob.

What was she going to do?

Severus doused the flame on the cauldron and took a step back. The potion needed ten minutes to cool before being bottled, and he spent that time clearing up the lab and letting his mind wander.

While it wasn't what he had expected, it hadn't been a terrible Christmas Day. After his interaction with Hermione at breakfast, Ginevra's words kept playing in his mind. She needed time. He could give her that. He wasn't a patient man by anyone's measure, but for her, he would be. She was worth it.

Once bottled, he brought the potion to the Hospital Wing. Poppy was in her office, and Severus knocked on the open door.

“Let me know if you need more of the modified version,” he said, placing the bottled potion on the desk. “I used the last of the knotgrass for this one so I'd have to buy more; my order isn't coming in until the 15th.”

“Thank you, dear. I'm sure this will last me plenty.” She smiled – that motherly smile that always put him on edge. “How are you, Severus?”

He shrugged. “Well enough.”

Her eyebrows raised. “Are you certain? Don't think I haven't noticed you've been in a worse mood than usual, lately.”

Shite. She always was too observant for her own good. Just like back when he was a student and she never missed checking up on him on the first day of term. He'd lost count how many bruises and cracked bones she had healed before his classes started – or after.

“Might it have something to do with a certain Arithmancy professor?” She looked entirely too pleased with herself, as though she had uncovered some great secret.

“Mind your own business,” he said through clenched teeth before turning and stalking away.

Opening the door to his quarters, he didn't expect to see Hermione in his sitting room, a determined set to her jaw.

“Where have you been?” she practically shrieked, taking a step towards him and then backing. “No,” she continued, not allowing him the chance to answer, “I don't care. You need to listen. You can't leave. You're the best Potions Master in Britain and a war hero! The students are lucky to have you teach them; they wouldn't do half as well with another teacher. We need you here. I need you here,” she finished weakly, chest heaving and eyes alight.

He frowned. What was she on about? “I'm not going anywhere.”

Her face went white, then pink. “You're not?”

“No. What gave you that idea?”

“I heard you and McGonagall talking yesterday about you leaving.”

Before he could stop himself, he chuckled. “Yes, the Gobstones team; I simply don't have the time.”

“Oh.” She bit her lip.

Severus said nothing, but his pulse raced in his veins. She wanted him to stay.

Hermione exhaled a shaky breath. “Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fucking fuck.” She started pacing again.

He moved towards her. “Hermione-”

“No,” she interrupted, ceasing her pacing and looking at him with wide eyes. “I thought you were leaving Hogwarts – leaving me – and I couldn't...” she trailed off. “I couldn't bear it. Not having you here.” She scrubbed a hand over her face. “That it would take me thinking you were leaving to do this.”

Severus froze.

Her eyes were glassy with tears as she looked at him. “I want you, and I want us. Officially. And I'm sorry I made you think I didn't, but I was scared – I still am – but being scared is better than losing you. I don't want to lose you. Please don't tell me I'm too late – that you've given up on me.”

He exhaled through a laugh. “You silly witch.” Crossing the room, he cupped her face and leaned in. “I would never give up on you.”

She whimpered and stretched, pressing her mouth to his.

Warmth flooded through him from where their lips joined, and he groaned. His hand slid around to the back of her head while the other wrapped around her waist, pulling her body against his. Her hands ran up his chest, down his back, cupped his arse.

“I'm sorry,” she kept saying between kisses.

Severus pulled back. “It doesn't matter.”

Her lower lip quivered. “I'm not letting you go now, not unless you tell me to.”

“That's not going to happen.” He kissed her fiercely.

Severus wasn't sure who pushed whom towards the bedroom, but it hardly mattered. Not when he slid his hands over smooth skin and she pleaded with him to touch her. He cupped her breasts – groaning into her neck at their softness – and brushed his thumbs over her pebbled nipples. She whimpered, fingers fumbling with the buttons on his shirt.

She must have done a non-verbal spell, because he suddenly found himself devoid of any clothing. In the chill of the dungeons, her skin was hot against his.

“I want you,” she moaned, hand wrapping around his cock.

Severus grabbed her arse and lifted her, then positioned her on the bed. Without ceremony, he pushed her knees to her chest and buried his face between her thighs. He groaned when her taste hit his tongue, and rubbed his hard cock against the sheets.

“Oh gods!” she cried, hands fisting in his hair and tugging.

He was unsure if she was trying to push him away or pull him closer, but by the way she was gasping and whimpering he figured it was the latter. Two fingers found her entrance, curling inside the way she liked. He was rewarded with a breathless groan and her fingers tightening in his hair.

“Severus,” she gasped. “I want you inside me. Please.”

Their heads nearly collided as she sat and he rose to his knees. Mouths fused, Severus let her push him on his back, sliding a leg over his hips. He gripped her thighs, helped her line up. Then she was sinking onto his cock, her eyes falling closed and head tipping back. She was breathtaking.

“Fuck, you feel good,” he groaned, running his hands up and down her thighs.

“I missed you so much,” she gasped as she started to move. Her thigh muscles clenched beneath his hands.

“I missed you too.”

Her head fell forward, dark eyes meeting his. Her face was twisted in pleasure, breath coming out in short bursts. She covered his hands with hers. “Did you really?”

He nodded, pushing his hips up and making her moan. “I did. Every day.”

“You feel so good.” She moved faster, resting her hands on his chest for balance as she rose and fell on his cock.

He brought his hands to her breasts, pinching her nipples and groaning when she fluttered around him. If she kept that up he was going to come.

Grabbing her waist, Severus lifted her off him. She whined in protest. Moving her onto her back, he hooked her thigh over his shoulder and slid back inside. Severus never wanted it to end; he would be glad to spend the rest of eternity buried in her. He could tell she was close, and he angled his hips to hit that spot that made her gush around him.

“Kiss me,” she breathed.

Severus moved on top of her and pressed his mouth against hers. He kept his thrusts hard and deep, and her fingers clenched around his back. Needing air, he tore his mouth from hers. She was keening, hips undulating against his. He angled his hips to hit her clit with his pubic bone; she needed to come soon because he was barely hanging on.

“Are you going to come for me?” he rasped.

“Keep talking,” she panted. “I'm so close.”

Merlin, he wasn't sure he would be able to, not when she was practically strangling his cock.

“You feel so fucking good,” he spoke against her shoulder. “I thought of you every day. Stroking my cock but imagining it was you.”

He had accepted that he was going to have to get her off another way – because he was coming right the fuck now – when she made a strangled noise and her entire body convulsed. Her clenching around him was too much, and he held her hips tightly against him as he came.

Severus tried not to crush her under his weight as he panted into her shoulder. Hermione pressed kisses to his head and shoulder, her hands running over his back and sides. The chill of the air made him shiver, and she protested when he pulled out and lay next to her, pulling the duvet over them.

Hermione sighed and moved closer, nudging a leg between his and resting her hand on his hip. “All right?” she said sleepily.

He hmmed in reply and brushed a curl from her forehead. “You?”

“Mm, sleepy,” she said, the corners of her mouths curling up.

Severus chuckled, idly tracing his fingers over her back. “You're staying?”

Her eyes – which had drifted closed under his ministrations – opened slowly. “For as long as you'll have me.”

Warmth spread through his chest. “Be careful what you wish for. I may never let you leave.”

She shifted closer and touched his face. “I'll hold you to that.”

Severus couldn't believe he was back at Grimmauld Place for the second time in as many weeks. He wore the same dress robes, drank the same kind of wine. Coming from the kitchen – luckily without getting a stern talking-to from Ginevra Potter this time – he entered the sitting room.

He found Hermione straight away, by the fireplace talking to Potter. Her navy dress shimmered in the lights, just like it had two weeks ago. Unlike then, he crossed the room. The skin of her back was soft against his hand. She leaned back against his touch, mouth curling into a smile.

Potter went bright red. “I, uh, need a refill.” He gestured to his almost full glass and quickly left.

“You scared him away,” Hermione complained, twisting slightly to look at him.

“Oh, no,” Severus said dryly. “I feel terrible.” His pinky teased the edge of her dress, near her lower back.

Her breath hitched, and she wet her lips. “Play nice.”

“I'm being very nice,” he purred. He lowered his mouth to her ear. “Fancy joining me in the drawing room to find out just how nice I can be?”

Her eyes were cloudy with lust as she regarded him. “Wait five minutes, then follow me upstairs.”

“Ugh, yes, right there.”

Ten... Nine!”

“Wait, you're slipping.”

A giggle and a moan as he readjusted his grip.

Eight... Seven!”

“Fuck, I'm gonna come.”

Six... Five!”

“That's amazing, do that again, love.”

Four... Three!”

“Hermione.”

Two!”

“Severus.”

One!”

A breathed, “kiss me.”

His mouth surged onto hers.

Happy New Year!”