A/N: Credit goes to Hypnobarb for the brilliant and original idea concerning the Defense Against the Dark Arts and the jinx that goes along with the job.
Big thanks goes to my wonderful beta, SSB!
Anti-Litigation Charm: I do not own.
Hermione spent the night in comfortable bliss. The summer was drawing to a close now that it was mid-August, and the weather had changed to allow for refreshingly cool nights. Cool enough that they could sleep together under the covers, with Hermione snuggled up against Severus's chest, preferring to bury her face in the crook of his neck while they slept. She awoke before he did, and simply lay there pressed against him while mentally going through a checklist of things she planned to do that day, enjoying the moment with him while she did so.
When he awoke, it was with the fluidity and determined focus of a panther. His arms, which had been wrapped around her in sleep, tightened in warning before he promptly flipped her over onto her back and, with her encouraging response, began laying a trail of kisses and nips down her neck. He had a morning erection, and chose to take care of it in the most convenient and enjoyable way possible.
"Oh, yes," Hermione found herself moaning as she arched into him. "Oh god—Severus…!"
The man had turned into a beast overnight, and Hermione absolutely loved it. He had taken double helpings on the first serving, and now that he had her back and in his bed—this time quite literally—he took and gave liberally. He had a voracious appetite and a lot of needs, and it seemed that he rather preferred to satisfy them before giving any consideration to more mundane things like breakfast.
When Hermione finally did make it downstairs to begin breakfast, she paradoxically felt as dry as a desert while also quite wet with her juices and his semen clinging to her legs, and there was nothing she could quite use to describe her state of being. She was completely satiated; sore, but refreshed and feeling quite remarkable. Severus had not allowed her to get dressed, insisting she go down in nothing but her bra and knickers if she had to wear something.
Severus came down a few moments after her, fully dressed, much to Hermione's consternation when she turned around to serve him toast—though she was quickly overcome with curiosity and then vague understanding when she saw he was wearing full-length black trousers and a white button-up shirt with cuffs.
"What's this?" she asked, setting his food on the table before checking their icebox for pumpkin juice.
"The weather's cooled a bit," Severus responded seriously, adjusting the cuffs one more time before taking his seat. "School will be starting up in two weeks, and I can't very well teach students while looking like one myself. Of course, I'll have to find something a bit more severe than this," he added, scowling at the thought. "You could probably help me."
Hermione placed a hand over her mouth.
"Well," she said, pretending to be thoughtful as she tried to recall what her Potions professor had looked like in her first to fifth years. "You could always wear a frock coat on top of what you've got now, and wear it all underneath your teaching robes."
She was almost sorry when she discovered he had actually taken her advisation under serious consideration.
The week before school began, Hermione and Severus took care of emptying the house of food and making sure the basement was warded securely and otherwise prepared to be left unattended for an extended period of time. It was possible they would be back for the holidays, but Hermione was not certain, and in the interim, it needed to be magically protected from becoming a shabby motel for magical pests. Hermione considered that they might send a Hogwarts house-elf to check in on it once or twice a year, just to ascertain it remained in good order. They had put a lot of hard work into it, and wanted to keep their efforts from being wasted.
Hermione also wondered how Professor Dumbledore was doing in regards to restoring her time-turner. She had never heard of someone using a time-turner to travel forward in time, but if it could take her back in time—by twenty years, in fact—she was certain it could be persuaded to send her at least as far forward in time as she herself had lived. She was in no hurry to leave Severus or abandon her friends, but her situation was not one that she could afford to ignore.
Thus, it was when they arrived at Hogwarts that Hermione requested a private audience with the Headmaster before anything was decided.
"I'm afraid that while I've done considerable research and pulled quite a few strings to find out how time-travel to the past is achievable, I'm afraid everything I've examined suggests that time-travel to the future is a logistical impossibility," Professor Dumbledore told her kindly as Hermione circled around his office, glancing out the window as she made a turn past it to see the lake and the Forbidden Forest in the distance. "I have not stopped searching, of course, and the faster we return you to your time, the less damage control we will have to do—but I'm afraid that as of right now, and perhaps never, there is no way to return you to your original timeline."
Hermione sighed. "I understand, sir."
"I have, however, begun devising a back-up plan, so to speak," Dumbledore told her thoughtfully as he came to stand by the window next to her. "I will not reveal the details just yet, but if we have no means of returning you to your proper time, there will be a way to mitigate things when the year of nineteen ninety-six rolls around naturally."
"Thank you," Hermione said, grateful that he had kept her situation in mind despite the other important events that were concurrently taking place. "I appreciate it."
That avenue of discussion closed for now, Professor Dumbledore led Hermione and Severus down to the dungeons, in the direction of his quarters.
"You will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, but of course, you are not required to take the quarters that go along with the post," Dumbledore told them as he revealed what had once been Slughorn's rooms. The furniture had been removed, and it was apparently up to the teachers to decide individually how to keep their quarters, for at the moment, there was nothing more in the single-bedroomed flat than an old, beaten desk.
"Hermione will be staying with me," Severus said, echoing a decision the two had unanimously made earlier.
"That's settled, then," Dumbledore said cheerfully, clapping his hands together. "If you are in need of anything, I am certain the house-elves will be more than willing to service you."
True to his word, they were. The elves, who the Weasley Twins once claimed would bring them a roast ox if they merely mentioned that they were a bit peckish, were almost overeager to bring in the requests for new furniture. The two professors found they had to be very specific in order to get what they were actually asking for, or they risked being handed overkill.
When they had asked for a bed, they did not mean a queen-sized bed with five layers of flowery quilts. They wanted a bed. A simple four-poster big enough for two people, and nothing more. Severus had been ready to strangle one of the little blighters when, having apparently not made himself clear enough, the elf in question had delivered a four-poster covered in a garish pattern of purple and orange stripes. Hermione had quickly charmed it a more tasteful color of dark green, double-checked that the sheets underneath it were plain white—they were not, and had to be changed as well—and then triple-checked that the mattress, too, was white. A third charm later, they were finally satisfied with that one piece of furniture.
Then came the replacement desks. The armchairs. A couch. The drapes for the enchanted windows that gave them an admittedly spectacular view of the lake. The rug for the living room. The absurd loveseat that Severus, nearly purple with rage, threatened to use as a means of playing whack-an-elf if it was not immediately removed.
The elves argued with them over everything. They had clearly enjoyed absurd tastes under Slughorn's lenient hands, and Severus—and Hermione too, at this point—would have none of it. They ended up with a single corner desk that they would share together, plain and functional with separate drawers for each of their purposes. The couch and armchairs were charmed dark green to Severus's tastes, and Hermione made the final decision on the drapes, choosing to make them ivory. They opted for a simple maroon rug for the area in front of the mantle, something Severus did not particularly mind, and which Hermione thought looked quite nice when the fire was lit.
They didn't even bother asking the elves for help in the bathroom. It was a large enough tub for four, sunk into the ground, and with a showerhead above the entire thing in case they should prefer that instead. They summoned and charmed their own color preference for towels, and Hermione spent several minutes setting up her things in there before joining Severus in the living room to have a last look-around.
"I'm satisfied," Severus rumbled, glancing into the fireplace as it sprung to life of its own accord.
Hermione wrapped her arms around him from behind. "I admit, it's actually quite nice."
One bedroom, one bathroom, and a living room. This would be their own, private living space for the entire year—and for at least one of them, a good time longer.
Hermione later sat in the Headmaster's office as they reviewed the teaching contract. Hermione had not signed hers when Severus had, and preferring to wait to do so at the last minute. When Professor Dumbledore pulled the DADA teaching contract out of his desk and placed it in front of her, Hermione took a moment to read it through carefully.
"Is this the same contract you use for all the other Defense teachers?" Hermione asked curiously as she examined it.
"Indeed," Dumbledore said with a nod.
A thought suddenly occurred to Hermione. "Professor—I mean, Albus," she said, correcting herself. Since she was now a teacher rather than simply a recent ex-graduate, she had been invited to call the Headmaster by his first name. "Do you just duplicate this every year for each teacher, or do you write up a new one?"
She saw Dumbledore's eyebrows contract for a moment, and then quickly rise up to his hairline. "Do go on," he prompted.
Hermione pushed the contract away.
"Sir, has it occurred to you that if the job is indeed jinxed, that it may be the contract?"
Dumbledore sat back in his chair, stroking his beard thoughtfully. "Your theory makes a great deal of sense, but how would Tom Riddle have gotten his hands on it?" he murmured.
Hermione sat back in her seat, examining her flaw for a moment, before her eyes lit up with clarity. "This contract—each one you duplicate, you keep a copy for yourself and a copy for the teacher. But you also keep a Protean Charm on them so that it can't be altered without your knowledge— am I correct?" A nod from the man sitting across from her, and Hermione sat back in her seat triumphantly. "All Voldemort would have needed to do is drop by to see old Professor Merrythought right before he retired and somehow get his hands on the Professor's version of the contract. If he enspelled it, the jinx would have been transferred to the other copy—the very same one you keep duplicating and wiping blank for each new teacher."
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair as well, looking quite impressed. "I must say, Hermione, that in the last thirty-six years, I have never come across a theory quite as likely as yours. I have, of course, put much examination into the problem, and there have been multiple scourings of the classroom itself to see if an object had been cursed to carry the jinx—a vase or a book, perhaps, or even the door—but to think that it could have been the teaching contract itself…" he beamed at her. "That is an idea, Miss Granger."
"I don't know if that is it or not," Hermione said, folding her hands into her lap, "and in my own timeline, none of my Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers have ever lasted more than a year. My suggestion, sir, is that we test my theory by drawing up a separate contract, but if and when I retire from the post, you give the presumably jinxed contract to the next teacher."
Dumbledore nodded, pulling the old contract away and placing it back into the drawer of his desk before drawing out a new slip of parchment. "Let us see, shall we?" he asked, blue eyes twinkling.
Hermione received a letter from James and Lily, asking for her to visit the day before the students were to arrive. Hermione, who had been busy reviewing the lesson plan she had painstakingly written out for the year, was unable to visit immediately. She opted to exclude herself from attending the Welcoming Feast, instead leaving with Dumbledore's permission to pay a visit to Godric's Hollow. She Flooed in with little trouble, having finally mastered how to do so without getting dizzy enough to topple over, and stepped into their living room, brushing soot off her robes.
"Hey," James said, offering her a smile as she stood next to the couch. Hermione stepped forward to hug him, and then turned to Lily, who smiled up at her gratefully. "Glad you could come."
A voice broke through from the kitchen: "Oi, is that Hermione?"
"She's here," Lily called back as she held Harry closer to her chest.
Sirius appeared a moment later, wiping his hands with a dishrag. "So she is. How've you been?"
"Great," Hermione said, moving to hug him as well. "I'll be teaching at Hogwarts now. So," she said, stepping back and glancing around the room, "what are we here for? I assume this isn't just a friendly visit, or I would have brought butterbeer for the lot of you."
James chuckled, while Sirius barked with laughter. "No. We asked you here because we had something serious we wanted to ask you."
Lily took a deep breath. "We've already asked Sirius to be Harry's godfather. You've been such a good friend to us—more than we could ever possibly express—and we would like you to do us the honor of being our son's godmother."
Hermione's jaw nearly dropped. She spluttered for a moment, unsure of what to say, when Sirius placed a hand on her shoulder, having come to stand beside her.
"James already told me that things are complicated," he started.
Hermione whirled around to look at James. "You didn't!" she accused.
James threw his hands up quickly. "I haven't told him anything, Hermione! I swear!"
"I only told him that things were complicated," James said hurriedly. "Lily was there when we had him over to talk."
Hermione turned to look at Lily, who was nodding firmly. "Sirius doesn't know anymore than he should, Hermione," she promised.
"Wait," Sirius said, his head whipping around to face Hermione. "What am I not supposed to know?"
Hermione smacked her face with her hand. "Nevermind," she stated.
"Hermione…" Sirius pressed.
"Just—just forget it, alright?" Hemione said, staring down at the floor. "I'm sorry—it's just, things have been busy, and…" she sighed, closing her eyes. "I'm sorry for going off on you like that. You were saying?"
James let out a snort of laughter, removing his glasses to rub at his eyes. "As we were saying," he said, "we want you to be Harry's godmother, and even if things are complicated in such a way that you might not always be around to fullfil you duties as one, we would still like you to."
Hermione bit her lower lip. "That's a big decision to make," she said carefully, trying to turn this around in her head in a way that made some sort of sense. "Especially since you don't know about all of the details of my—my situation."
"We know enough," Lily stated firmly. Hermione opened her mouth to protest, but Lily put up a hand. "We don't need to know everything about your situation, but we do know enough about who you are as a person. You're the only person we would ever ask, Hermione."
Hermione gazed into their faces, knowing that they were being completely honest with her. They had no inkling of the truth about her past, but they apparently did not care. If their only basis for asking her was their experience with her as a close family friend, then she felt comfortable in accepting their request, knowing that she was not obscuring some necessary fact from their decision-making—not directly…
"In that case," Hermione said slowly, curling a lock of hair between her fingers, as she smiled at them, "I would be honored to be Harry's godmother."
Lily beamed at her. Sirius pulled her into a bear-hug, before patting her on the back with enough force to send her stumbling in James's direction, who quickly pulled her into another hug.
"Thank you," he whispered into her ear.
Hermione smiled gently. "Anything for Prongs," she quipped.
Afterwards, when Hermione went to the kitchen to grab a fresh plate of crackers, Sirius followed her, questions brimming on his lips.
"Hermione, earlier you mentioned something about how your situation was complicated," he stated. "James and Lily obviously know."
Hermione turned around quickly from where she had been slicing some cheese to add to the plate, startled for a moment, before she returned to her task. "I can't tell you, Sirius," she responded simply.
He gave her a look of frustration and exasperation. "Why not?"
"Because it's dangerous," Hermione responded simply. "It's sensitive information in regards to this war, and the more people who know, the more it puts the people it concerns at risk."
Sirius examined her profile carefully. "What if I offered to take an Unbreakable Vow to hold my silence?" he asked.
Hermione turned to give him a curious look, appearing as though she were almost considering it for a moment, but then shook her head. She was Severus's handler, and therefore had seniority in deciding who could be allowed to know certain details about their operation, but it was Severus's life on the line more than hers—therefore, she felt, he should have an equal say in who to include in their circle of information.
"It's not just about me," she told him gently, willing him to understand. "There's someone else I'd have to discuss this with before I can tell anyone else."
Sirius gave her a deep, considering look, crossing his arms thoughtfully for a moment before he spoke again. "I always knew there was no way Dumbledore would just put you on organizational duty."
"I—what?" Hermione said, taken aback.
"You're simply too smart and too clever to ever just be delegated to making sure everyone's got their shoelaces tied and heads on straight," Sirius said seriously, leaning against the counter. Elaborating, he continued, "There are a few Order members who have family ties to Death Eaters and use them as a means of gathering intel for us. Naturally, no one in the Order knows who all of them are except for Dumbledore, and he's the one who makes decisions on who gets to know what. Am I right?"
Hermione simply gaped at him. He was too close to the truth, though still quite a ways off. Sirius put up his hands in a gesture of surrender.
"I won't ask any more, I promise," he stated, lowering his hands. "But I just want you to know that if you ever need my help with something, you can always ask me. I'll try not to ask too many questions."
Hermione's fingers shook as she set the knife down. "Thank you," she said shakily, turning around to look at him, "but the best thing—the best thing you could possibly do is to either try to forget all you've said or—or swear to me that you will never tell anyone that you suspect my duties for the Order to be anything other than simply administrative, or whatever else we tell the others."
"I will," Sirius promised, stepping forward and grasping her shoulders with both hands to soothe her tremors. "I promise that I will never speak a word of this to anyone—except for James and Lily?"
Hermione took a shuddering breath. "No. Please—not even to them. They know everything—or mostly everything that can be said, but I don't…" she shook her head. "Just take it to your grave, Sirius, or wait until You-Know-Who meets his. Then you may talk freely."
"Alright," Sirius said, giving her a friendly, trusting smile before pulling her into a hug. "I promise. You have my word, Hermione."
"I know," Hermione said, closing her eyes gratefully. "I trust you."
He clapped his hand on her shoulder, and Hermione recomposed herself before gathering the tray of cheese and crackers and carrying it back out to the living room.
The rest of the evening was spent with them in front of the fire in the living room, talking animatedly. In fact, Hermione was wonderfully reminded of their conversations in front of the fire in the Gryffindor Common room, when they had all been students together. They all had their turns holding Harry, who Sirius joked was the man of the hour. The baby in question spent most of the time sleeping in his mother's arms, and Hermione knew that she would look back on this moment with fondness years from now.
Conversation drifted over to the welfare of the Longbottoms, who had gone into deeper hiding. Alice still wrote to Hermione once a week, but could neither tell them where they were nor any details about their surroundings or overall situation. Alice could only tell Hermione that Frank's mother—who she admitted was quite a formidable woman—was their secret keeper. Hermione burned that part of the letter as soon as she had read it, and assured Alice in her next correspondence that she had done so. But still it was a relief to know that someone trustworthy was taking care of them.
Conversation turned to other matters of interest. Sirius was considering asking Marlene to marry him. James wanted to know how Hermione planned to teach the upper years, and joked to Sirius that she was probably going to wipe the floor with them.
When the hour had begun to grow late, Hermione reluctantly made her departure, citing that she had classes to teach tomorrow. She was pulled into two separate, brotherly bear-hugs, laughing as she kissed them on each cheek before moving to do the same to Lily. Harry received a kiss on the forehead and a fond look, and then Hermione pinched some floo powder and, with a promise to visit when she could, left.
Severus was waiting for her when she arrived in their quarters, stretched over the length of the couch with a book. He looked up at her when she slipped into the room, and set his reading down.
"You're back," he stated, sitting up. "How was your visit?"
Hermione did not reply immediately, but tugged off her traveling cloak and kicked off her shoes, making short work of her robes before she moved to join him, sitting in what little space she was afforded when he drew up his knees to make room. "They asked me to be Harry's godmother."
Severus stared at her silently for a moment, and the leaned forward and pulled her over to him, and they shifted for a few seconds, adjusting themselves until Hermione was lying flat on her belly, on top of him. "And you accepted?"
Hermione closed her eyes, resting her cheek against his shoulder as his arms came to wrap around her, his hands sliding down to massage her bum appreciatively. "Yes."
She heard Severus exhale sharply. "I should have known you would."
"You didn't even know what they were asking me to visit for in the first place," Hermione retorted with a teasing smile. "But enough of that. What's done is done, and I've made my decision regarding the matter."
Severus brought one hand back to lift her chin up so that he could meet her eyes with his. Hermione found herself gazing into them, drawn into what seemed to be dark, black pools—and then a moment later, she found herself actually being drawn in as Severus slipped seamlessly into her mind. Hermione's Occlumency shields went up immediately, and Severus merely circled them for a moment, before pressing firmly against them. Hermione pushed back, determined to hold him out. Their minds remained locked, each trying to push and maneuver around the other, before Hermione's concentration was suddenly broken by Severus grinding his hips against hers.
She regained control quickly, pulling the pieces back together with lightning-quick speed even as she became aware of Severus standing up, holding her in his arms and still locking eyes almost commandingly with her. She felt her back being pressed into the rug in front of the fire, her clothes manually being divested even as Severus focused on slipping through the faint cracks that had appeared in her barriers.
Hermione quickly discovered that he was not searching for hidden information or important secrets, when the memory of them dancing together at one of Slughorn's suppers hazily swam into view—the one where she had worn the dark red dress robes Marlene and Alice had made for her. The one where he had spent a good deal of time staring at her breasts, quite fascinated by the way the fabric shimmered invitingly over them. But it was still a point of pride that she was able to keep him out, so she thus concentrated all her mental resources into doing so, even as he skillfully distracted her from succeeding. Her shirt had been removed, and her jeans were being pulled down her legs even as another memory sank into view, one of them dueling in the dark, spells flashing, before he managed to pin her to the ground. Just as he was now pinning her to the rug, in fact. Hermione struggled in response, her eyes still locked imperiously to his, and she suddenly became very aware that he had grabbed one of her hands and was pressing it to his groin, where she could feel the evidence of his growing erection.
"Get—out—" she panted, writhing underneath him even as she squeezed him gently in the way she knew he liked it. It was simply too much for her to focus on—the memories, the sensations of the fire dancing across her bared skin even as cool air brushed over other parts, the fact that he was now undressing… she couldn't hold it together. Her Occlumency was powerful enough to keep him out, and were she ever in such a similar position with someone else, she would have methods of holding her concentration together or even overpowering them. But in this moment of intimacy with the person she trusted most, it simply was not possible. She wasn't about to flip him over onto his back and hex him, despite the fact that more and more of her memories were beginning to bleed through. "Those aren't for you to see…"
Severus bent his face to hers, smirking as he undid the cuffs of his shirt and pulled his arms out of his sleeves. "But I want to."
Hermione shook her head slightly, still unable to pull her eyes away from his. They quite literally demanded her attention, and she didn't seem capable of gathering enough brain cells together to commence in pulling her gaze away. "What are you looking for?" she said, her breath hitching as she felt him press his clothed erection against her knickers.
"Something, something…" he responded with a silken purr, kissing her even whilst never taking his eyes off of hers. He had begun unbuttoning his trousers, wriggling them down to his hips before reaching for his wand to wordlessly magick them in a neat, folded pile with his shirt on one of the armchairs. "You'll see…"
More memories swam into view, but they were all sexual in nature, at least from Severus's perspective. He was not burying deeper for her other secrets. Her hanging upside-down, tearing her robes off so that she could hex him properly, revealing that she was lacking a shirt of any kind. Her responding to him as he kissed her for the first time. Her lying in her bed, the hangings closed despite the fact that she was alone, leaning back with her fingers working themselves furiously between her legs—just like his were now, pulling the crotch of her knickers aside and teasing the little nub of flesh that nearly shattered her concentration entirely.
And just like in the memory, Hermione found herself moaning his name. "Severus…"
She saw him grin wickedly, a victorious sneer. "I always thought you might have masturbated to thoughts to me…"
"Only after you kissed me," Hermione breathed in protest, even as she trembled in response to his fingers. She felt the tap of his wand against her hip, and knew that her knickers had been summarily taken hostage. "Don't try and tell me you didn't, either."
His fingers were replaced by him pressing his erection against her, hot and throbbing against her clit, and she ground herself against him helplessly, wanting more. "Of course I did. Even before I kissed you, I wanted you—I wanted you enough that after you nearly choked me during your final exam, I returned to my dorm and wanked myself to thoughts of you." He was panting now, trying to hold himself still as Hermione began working herself into a frenzy. "I fantasized that had it not been an exam, had we been alone, I could have seduced you and then taken you on the floor and had you…"
Hermione was barely cognizant of his words as more memories swam to the forefront of his mind, dragged along by his legilimencied probing. How he was managing to retain enough focus to control his search, she had no clue, but she still managed to string her words together. "Like you had me on the floor of the living room?" she quipped with vocal difficulty as his hands came to cup her breasts, squeezing them appreciatively.
"Yes…" He was trembling now with the effort of holding himself back as Hermione's hips grinding against his erection became more insistent. "And when I nearly convinced you, the first night you stayed at Spinner's End—gods, that had been so close… after you left, I masturbated to thoughts of taking you then, too…"
Hermione laughed weakly. "I knew that if I gave in to that, we would be having sex in less than a week."
"Would that have been such a bad thing?" he demanded, now grinding himself against her with more insistency.
"No—no, not at all," Hermione breathed, her words broken by an involuntary moan. "But—too fast, too soon… hadn't really seen you much before then…"
"Understandable," Severus muttered, finally pulling his gaze from hers, and though his legilimencied attack did not end, the strength of it was lessened by the lack of eye contact.
Hermione was finally able to squeeze her eyes shut, and she did so, arching and moaning into him as he began and nip and suckle at the column of her neck. Another memory swam into the front of her mind even as Hermione marshalled her forces to start pulling more of them behind her walls: her standing in front of a bookcase, her back to him, as he pressed himself against her and slipped a hand into her jeans and between her legs. The memory itself sent tremors of want through Hermione, and it was all she could do not to give out and let herself shatter.
Severus suddenly thrust into her, and Hermione did shatter right then. Her Occlumency walls broke shamefully, breaking like glass as Hermione pulsed around her lover, white-hot pleasure clenching in her belly and jerking her legs, sending terrible tremors through her body that she was helpless to suppress. That she didn't want to suppress. She let out a cry that was promptly muffled by Severus's lips covering hers, drinking them in, and she wrapped her hips around his as he set his pace, pounding into her through her orgasm.
She knew Severus could hear her thoughts even as he took her. They were hardly well-thought out, but they seemed to be what he was after, for he took them regardless of their incoherency. They were along the lines of Oh god, Severus!, Sweet Merlin, and Fuck me, the latter seeming to be the one he took to heart the most, for he did exactly that.
He collapsed on top of her several moments later, spent, and Hermione found herself shaking slightly from the tremors of post-climatic bliss. Her eyes were closed, her hair a sweaty and wild mess around her head, as she found herself idly wondering once her braincells began functioning properly—as well as her Occlumency shields since Severus had not been able to hold onto his Legilimency throughout his own orgasm—if she would ever be able to walk again.
"I know your weakness now," Severus murmured into her ear, grinding his pelvis against hers for emphasis. "You will never be able to keep me out again."
"Fat chance," Hermione responded breathlessly. "I'll just get better."
"As will I," Severus purred, dipping his head to nuzzle her face. "You are mine, Hermione, and I will never let you go."
Hermione felt another trickle of warmth add itself to the mess of already-existing juices and his come. He had not left her yet—something that had become a trademark habit of his, to remain inside her even after he had softened until they absolutely had to pull apart—and she knew he would feel it, too. He had become too good at reading her body, her mind soon to be incuded at this point, for him to not know what kind of effect his words had on her.
"In that case," Hermione responded, dragging her hands up to his face so that she could pull him into a kiss, "I do believe I can now claim unlimited access to your heart."
"No complaints from me," Severus responded smoothly, moving to nibble on her ear.
"And your body, I suppose…"
"Quite," he agreed silkily, grinding himself against her again.
Hermione giggled, wrapping her arms around his neck. "And your library."
Severus's head shot up at this, and he gave her a pointed glare. "Don't be cruel, Hermione."
His lover underneath him grinned mercilessly at this, and then ground down against him in obvious emphasis of her own.
"It's cruel to deny a bibliophile," she purred, giving him a wanton look. "Now, are we done for the night, or was there something else you wanted to do?"
The first week of classes went about as well as Hermione could have expected. Remembering what she had liked and disliked about her last two teachers in this subject, she set about making it very clear to the students what kind of teacher she would be. Many of them knew her already, given that she had been a student less than a year ago, and it was clear that many of them initially expected some kind of leniency. Hermione had taken a leaf out of Severus's book in regards to attire, and wore a simple white button-up shirt underneath her robes, with a plain black knee-length skirt in lieu of trousers, her hair restrained in a chignon that gave her a very no-nonsense appearance despite her youth.
Hermione started off by assigning them all year-appropriate spells to practice after treating them to a lecture very similar to the one Harry had given the members of the D.A when they first congregated.
"Defending yourself against the Dark Arts isn't just memorizing a list of spells and knowing when to pull them out of your pocket," Hermione told her first class, striding up the rows of desks as she spoke. "Dealing with the dark arts requires creativity, innovation, and the need for you to be quick on your feet." She turned around and began walking back toward the front of the room, glancing out the window this time as she continued, "You all know that You-Know-Who is out there—and even if he weren't, there are others just like him, only less obvious. Some of you have friends and family who have been abducted or killed by them." There was a sniffle from the back of the classroom at this, and Hermione finished, "Spellwork alone won't save you if you don't use your head. Knowing when and how to use spells is just as necessary as knowing how to move, how to act, and most importantly, when to run and when to defend." She whipped around to face them. "That is what I'm going to be teaching you this year."
In some of the classes where the students were older, she had earned derisive laughs or disdainful stares. Some of them had known Hermione personally, though nowhere on the same level as she had the Marauders and future Order members, and knew how skilled she was, but thought she was still reaching rather high in her speech. She was only nineteen: exactly how much did she expect them to believe she had experienced in the three months since she had graduated?
As it turned out, quite a lot. In every class between fifth and seventh-year, where at least one person had expressed disbelief, Hermione had coldly ordered them all to stand and push their desks aside, stacking them against the wall at one end of the room. They stood awkwardly around the room, uncertain of what she was about to do, when she explained to them that if they had any doubts about her qualification to teach—something that had rarely, if ever, come up with any other teacher, and which she was only facing because she was a recent graduate—they were free to challenge her.
They all jumped in. Hexes, jinxes, and curses flew indiscriminately around the room, and Hermione found herself spending more time ducking than doing any sort of spellcasting: their aim was unpracticed, their movements slow and often clumsy, and many of them took down more of their fellow classmates than they ever managed to get anywhere near her. When Hermione did cast, she did so silently, wordlessly immobilizing them in some capacity. The few students who had not joined in stood off to the side, eyes wide as they watched Hermione engage their classmates with something akin to grim amusement.
As soon as the status quo had been set, Hermione had little problem keeping their attention. The sixth and seventh years were ordered to work with nonverbal spells, much to their consternation, and Hermione informed her fifth years that they would be practicing it as a preparatory lesson before their preceding years.
One sore fifth year, still on the floor and rubbing his neck from where Hermione's Choking Curse had gotten hold of him, snidely remarked that she sounded as though she actually expected to last the year.
"Don't be so surprised, Davis," Hermione told him lazily, flicking her wand at him and causing him to be hauled to his feet by an invisible force. "I very well might."
And with that, she set them to work. She knew what spells most of them already knew, and put them through their paces to check their capability in casting them before assigning a new spell. Those who did not succeed in casting it at the end of class had it assigned as homework. She received complaints and groans of protest at this from the classes in which it occured, which she silenced immediately by slamming her hand on her desk.
"If you lot can't cast a simple Stunning Spell by the beginning of next class, points will be taken off!" she snarled at her fourth years.
Hermione was not joking, and she was not lenient. She had no intention of abusing her students as Welk had done, but she had other burdens to carry on her back aside from listening to the complaints of whining students who were hoping for a bit of free time to goof off, and she was having none of it. She had been trained by two experienced Aurors, tricked a Death Eater into going on a wild goose chase, blatantly defied Voldemort, held her Occlumency barriers even against Unforgivables during intensive training, fought and watched her back while still a student at Hogwarts, and was the handler of the Order's most important spy. The Hermione of old would have been kinder, gentler, more understanding and sympathetic to the petty cares of her students—but she would have also been incompetent as a teacher, reduced to frustration and tears while trying to regain control of her class.
Hermione had not lost all of her touch as a sympathetic and caring person, but she was harder now out of pure necessity. Her students would not get unmitigated leeway from her, and the quicker they learned that, the better it would be for all of them. She had learned from Moody that mollycoddling led to poorly taught lessons, from Faulkner that a firm but fair attitude won good results, and from Welk that she should not be too heavy-handed. Thus, the culmination of those experiences was what guided her methods.
Severus's experience was similar to hers, though he had let his temper come through rather quickly, and he handled dissension differently. The students, particularly the Slytherins, expected leniency from him. They treated him like an old pal at first, and joked around in class at the start. Severus had glared at them coldly, snarled, ordered them to do their work, and made it abruptly clear that he didn't give a damn if he had been their former housemate. He was the Head of Slytherin, but he quickly shattered their illusion that he was their equal—or rather, that they were his.
Hermione had been surprised to hear this, wondering when his favoritism would start, but was at the same time not particularly shocked. Severus was a man who demanded respect, and when people he was supposed to have authority over began treating him as though he were their classmate and not their teacher, Hermione could very well imagine him losing his temper. Every class he had that week left looking somewhat shell-shocked, some students came close to tears. They had been used to Slughorn's genial behavior, his social and friendly demeanor as well as his willingness to allow students to chit-chat amongst themselves and with him, and Severus was a drastic change from that.
First week in, Hermione was grudgingly considered one of the most interesting teachers, given how alike her teaching style was to Professor Faulkner's, and Potions had become the most dreaded class in the castle. Even Professor Sprout's venomous tentacula and other unwieldy plants could not hope to hold a candle to how horrible Professor Snape was to the students.
To be fair, they had not taken him seriously at first. If they had, Hermione suspected he would have merely been strict, if somewhat snarky. But when they had not taken his warning signs, merely attributing it to him bluffing or even joking, he had gone from zero to sixty in the space of ten seconds, and had not gone back. He also did not care which class was responsible for his bad mood. Thus, they all suffered.
By the second week in, the students had settled into something of an understanding with the new teachers. Professor Granger expected the assigned work to be handed in, correctly and on-time, and for them to push themselves. When they did, they were rewarded with points and a nod or word of acknowledgement. When they missed their homework twice, or demonstrated blatant instances of disrespect to her, they were given detention or docked points. She was noted as being fair, and some of the students even came to enjoy her class, given that she soon warmed up to the subject and taught it with enthusiasm that was somewhat contagious.
They also learned that Professor Snape expected three things: Silence, obedience, and attentiveness. Those three virtues would get you through his class in one piece, perhaps even with a point increase for your house if your potion turned out well and you were not a Gryffindor. If you lacked one of those three things, points were taken liberally. Sometimes it seemed to them that he relished in every opportunity to torture to torture a student; he keep them on their toes, either by threatening detention if they missed a single homework assignment, or by deducting points if they were careless with their classwork.
The advent of his blatant favoritism, however, became clear to Hermione one evening when they received a floo call from none other than Lucius Malfoy, who strode into their quarters like he owned them. Previously, Severus had merely gone out of his way to pick on Gryffindors, out of sheer spite. The two of them had been sitting in their armchairs, focusing in grading the papers they had assigned when Malfoy had come in. He did not come without invitation, of course: the flames turned green, and Hermione had sat up quickly, torn between leaving and staying when she heard Lucius's disembodied voice request that Severus let him through. She exchanged glances with him, and then casually leaned back in her chair, sitting up straight before resuming her grading, making it clear that she would hold her ground.
"Good evening, Severus," Lucius said, greeting his friend as he wordlessly magicked soot off his robes. He had a cane now, a distinct change from before, and if anything, his demeanor had turned even more supercillious and aristocratically disdainful. "I hope you're not too terribly busy."
"You wouldn't care if I was," Severus snarked, setting his grading aside. "What do you want?"
"Just a little talk," Lucius said, eyeing Hermione with a sneer. When Hermione didn't respond, he prompted, "You're both teaching here, I see."
Hermione looked up from where she was marking an essay in red ink. "Defense Against the Dark Arts," she stated unnecessarily. "Severus is teaching Potions." Making her expression blank and her tone falsely cordial, she asked, "Is there anything we can help you with, Mr. Malfoy?"
"Ah, yes," Lucius said, stroking his chin as he moved to lean against the mantlepiece. "I believe there is something you can help us with, Severus. You see, word of your… teaching methods has gone around a bit."
"The students are irritating little blighters," Severus snapped, glaring down at an essay that appeared to be bleeding red ink from very orifice. "They are incompetent, lazy, and refuse to apply themselves unless I force them to."
"That's all very well," Lucius said, waving a hand dismissively, "but the Dark Lord is bit concerned about how you're handling your teaching and Head of Slytherin duties."
Severus's face became smooth and expressionless. "Do tell."
Lucius cast Hermione a supercilious look, and then turned back to Severus, who merely raised his eyebrow. "You are a Death Eater, Severus. Many of the Slytherin students here are the children of our brothers-in-arms, and how you treat them reflects upon the Dark Lord. He wants them well taught, but they should be raised above all others, as their parents would wish them to be in answer to their service. Does that not seem reasonable?"
It suddenly made sense to Hermione. Death Eaters expected preferential treatment from their lord and from their own, and their children were entitled to receive the same.
Severus leaned back in his chair, sneering. "Tell the Death Eaters who have complained that they are to send letters to their offspring ordering them to behave and apply themselves. In return, I will give all of Slytherin house my undivided care and preference."
Hermione sat frozen in her seat, unmoving. She might as well have been a statue. This was simply unbelievable—this was more of a business exchange between Slytherins, with her as a silent witness, than anything else.
Lucius raised an eyebrow at this, and then smirked. "Excellent. The Dark Lord will be pleased, and I will pass your message along." He glanced over at Hermione, who remained unmoving, and turned to give Severus an incomprehensible look before he collected a bit of floo powder from the mantel and took his leave.
The flames whooshed emerald green behind him, and then he was gone.
Hermione inhaled deeply before she spoke. "Severus, how did you explain my presence to the Dark Lord?"
Severus had returned to his work, and did not look up at he replied: "The Dark Lord had reason to believe that you are a pureblood pretending to be a Muggle-born, which is why he had shown you such leniency."
Hermione narrowed her eyes at this. "Why would he care about my heritage if at best it would make me a blood traitor?"
Severus crossed something out on the essay he was grading, and then flipped it over to the other side. "He does not care for most blood traitors, but you have shown exceptional magical skill and talent. He believes killing you to be too much of a waste, if you can otherwise be put to good use."
Hermione waited for him to continue, but he did not, and thus prompted, "Good use how?"
Severus sighed, and finally looked up at her.
"Breeding stock," he said shortly. Hermione gaped at him, and he held up a hand to silence her. "The Dark Lord believes you to be controllable, despite your open allegiance to the Order of the Phoenix. You have never participated on the front lines, and with you presumably under my constant supervision, he is content to let me keep you, so to speak."
Hermione leaned back in her chair with a sigh, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Essentially, he has weighed the pros and cons of keeping me alive, and has decided that the benefits of having children he believes will be powerful three-quarter-bloods outweigh the risks of me trying to wring his scrawny neck?"
"Essentially," Severus responded carefully.
"Has he considered that I might not allow that?"
Severus leaned back in his chair, pausing to think. "He expects me to work it out with you, in some capacity. He knows that I have no interest in having children now, and I believe his plans are for him to take over the Ministry of Magic and institute his reforms before he insists that such a thing happen. We are not the only ones, Hermione," he cautioned. "His followers are encouraged to find worthy spouses for carrying on the next generation." A pause, before he continued, "You may remember Bellatrix Black—she's a good example of this rhetoric, given that she is now Bellatrix Lestrange. She only married to earn the Dark Lord's approval." His expression contorted into a sneer. "For now, I believe, he is content for me to restrain you—though the both of us know very well that that is not the case."
Hermione sighed, grateful that such a scenario would never occur before her timeline could be reached. "He is a bloody nutcase."
"Would you ever want children, Hermione?" Severus asked cautiously, not looking up at her as he skewered yet another essay.
Hermione measured her response carefully.
"Someday, yes," Hermione admitted, turning to look at him. "And with you—absolutely. But not right now."
Severus seemed more than satisfied with her response, and set his most recently graded work aside to move onto attacking the remaining essays with red ink. "In that case, it seems the situation is resolved."
Hermione nodded in agreement, but spent the rest of the evening turning over their conversation in her head while they worked, unable to help being insulted by the assumptions Voldemort had made about her, and in a state of mid-disbelief that Severus was not adverse to the prospect of a family.
Though they were certainly in agreement on one thing.
While Voldemort reigned, there would be no family.