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Chapter 20 : xx.
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With Christmas only a few weeks away, Hermione was trying to decide what to get Severus. They hadn't discussed exchanging gifts, and she hadn't really expected anything from him, but she wanted to get him something to remember her by. Since she knew one day she'd have to leave him. The only question was, what would he like?
She wanted to get him something practical -- something she knew that he could keep for many years. Practical, yet also special. Friday evening she was sat in her bed, lazily thumbing the pages of The Daily Prophet checking the section for different shops in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. They did have another trip to the Wizarding village coming up before the break, but since she'd most likely be with Severus, getting his gift through owl order seemed to be her only option.
Her eyes scanned the typical dribble -- charmed razors, expensive quills, hats and other garments, trinkets and other items that were not catching her eye. Then as she turned to the next page, she saw it -- the perfect gift. It was a stirring stick made from tungsten. Knowing that tungsten had the highest melting point of any pure metal, she knew it would be perfect for even the hottest of potions, and last him a lifetime.
After summoning her quill and a bottle of ink, Hermione filled out the purchase order, taking care to also leave a note of what she'd like magically inscribed on it. She quickly checked the time, gathered the money needed for the order, sealed the envelope and hurried out of her dorm, hoping she would make it to the owlry before curfew.
As she watched the brown owl take flight with her order, she smiled to herself, hoping he would like his gift and get plenty of use out of it.
She took her time climbing down the stairs, looking up at the starry sky with the wind blowing through her hair, when suddenly she froze. Severus would use his gift. For many years, actually.
Hermione cursed under her breath while she dug through her bag, during her fifth year Potion’s class. She could have sworn that it was in there, and she couldn't very well make her potion correctly without it. Damn, she thought, when her empty hand came out of her bag.
Snape would deduct points from her for sure. He always found a reason to take points from Gryffindor. Regardless, she took a deep breath and raised her hand high into the air.
She saw Snape glance at her from his desk, yet he didn't answer her immediately. For whatever reason, he always kept her waiting whenever she had a question and would raise her hand in the middle of class.
Hermione locked her eyes onto him, and sat up straight, refusing to lower her arm until he called on her. Why did he hate her so much?
Snape exhaled loudly, yet kept his focus on the paper he had been scribbling across.
“Problem, Miss Granger?” he drawled.
“Please, sir. I've seemed to have misplaced my stirring stick required for this potion.” She winced, waiting for him to berate her, and take points.
Snape rolled his eyes and huffed.
“Git.” She heard Ron whisper next to her. Harry snorted.
Apparently, he did not whisper it quietly enough. “Detention, Weasley!” snapped Snape. “And five points from Gryffindor.”
Hermione groaned along with rest of the Gryffindors in the class, while Ron’s ears went bright red.
He still hadn't responded to Hermione, who looked up at him patiently. She waited while he opened the top drawer of his desk, and pulled out a faded green handkerchief that he unravelled, which appeared to have a long metal item in it.
She wasn't sure if she'd imagined it or not, but she thought she saw a hint of sadness touch his eyes when he looked at, what she assumed was a stirring stick. But quickly his face became cold and indifferent once more as he approached her table.
While he stood over her, as intimidating and imposing as ever, Hermione suppressed a chill while refusing to break eye contact, not showing him how intimidated she truly was of the man. What surprised her was she did not find the normal loathing in his eyes as he looked down upon her. There was something just bubbling beneath the surface that she couldn't quite put her finger on.
When he handed her the stirring stick, he cleared his throat. “Do be careful with this, Miss Granger. As it is from my personal collection, and has been in my possession longer than you have been alive.”
Hermione gulped and held it delicately, afraid to even breathe on it. “Yes, Sir. Thank you.”
He lingered for a second longer than he normally had ever done, before turning around. “Ten more points from Gryffindor, for your forgetfulness,” he said as he walked back to his desk.
As she turned it over in her hand, her heart sank when she noticed the metal had been scratched. For a moment Hermione panicked, thinking she had damaged it already, but noticed that the markings on it were an inscription.
‘To Severus, with love. - H xx’
She briefly wondered if it had been a gift from a relative, since she couldn't imagine anyone ever being intimately involved with someone as miserable and surly as he.
Shrugging it off, she went back to her assignment for the day, not realizing that Snape's eyes hadn't left her the entire time.
“Oh my god…” she whispered to herself.
4th December 1976
Saturday afternoon, Hermione and Severus sat at their usual table in the library, books sprawled out between the two of them on the table. They were studying for exams, yet Hermione couldn't concentrate, now that she'd remembered that incident from her Potion’s class. She'd realized that Severus must have given her that particular stirring stick for a reason. He'd wanted her to know that he remembered. But what else could he have been trying to tell her? Was it possible that he had still cared for her? Preposterous, she told herself.
Until he looked up and smiled at her, she hadn't realized that she had been staring again.
“See anything you like?” he asked with a half smirk.
Hermione blushed deeply at being caught, and because the answer to his question was a resounding yes. She let out a small laugh as she crumpled up a tiny ball of parchment and threw it at him.
Without another word, she went back to her work -- or at least tried to. She began thinking again about the antivenin. If she even managed to make one correctly, how would she know? Normally Wizards would test their new potions on House Elves, which was absolutely not an option. What if it poisoned the elf? She wouldn't have been able to live with herself if she'd done one of those kind creatures any harm. The only thing she could think of was to test it out on herself. But again, how? She'd hardly be able to walk into the nearest apothecary and order up a bottle of their finest snake venom, infused with the darkest of magic.
For every step forward, she'd felt as if she was taking two steps back. A heavy sigh escaped her.
“Are you stuck on something?” asked Severus, mistaking her frustration.
Hermione shook her head. “No. Just bored,” she lied.
He took a look down at his watch and then smiled at Hermione. “We've been at it for nearly 4 hours. Reckon we should call it a day?”
She nodded and began to pack up her belongings. Maybe getting out of the quiet library was a good idea, since her mind was wandering so much. Perhaps if they went for a walk, or did something besides study, it could help take her mind off of things. She desperately needed a mental break.
While the walked holding hands down the corridor together, Severus began stroking her knuckles with his thumb.
“Hermione? Is everything alright? You've seemed a little distracted today,” Severus asked.
She had to get it together, she scolded herself. It wouldn't do for her to continue showing all of her emotions each time a new revelation would hit her, or a setback happened. With a forced smile on her face, she pulled him to a stop, then stood on her toes to place a soft kiss to his lips. When she pulled back, his eyes lightened.
“Everything is fine. Promise. Just pre-exam jitters, I suppose,” she said, hoping he bought it.
Severus pushed her hair behind her ear, and cupped her cheek in his hand. “You'll have nothing to worry about. You're brilliant, you know that,” he told her.
Again she felt the fluttering in her stomach at his words, and from the way his eyes burned into hers. She wondered if he'd always had the ability to be that charming, or if it was their budding romance that had brought it out of him.
“Thank you, Severus,” she responded softly.
He pressed his lips against her forehead, then the pair of them continued their leisurely pace down the corridor. It wasn't quite time for dinner yet, but neither one wanted to part from the other yet. Severus asked if she wanted to continue working on her project for her apprenticeship, but Hermione told him no. She'd been working on it nearly every night for weeks at that point, and really just fancied a day off from her work. She suggested continuing their practice with non-verbal spells in one of the empty classrooms, which Severus agreed to. He'd improved very much since he'd first asked her to help him two months ago, yet he still hadn't perfected it, as she knew he one day would.
When the two entered the dark room, Hermione waved her wand lighting the candles on the walls. She set down her school bag and transfigured several of the desks into large fluffy pillows. With another swish of her wand, she'd sent the rest of the desks against the walls, making room for when the pair would eventually try to silently duel.
Severus’ eyes still widened each time Hermione performed her magic without making a sound, and each time she noticed his reaction, she'd feel the heat creep up her face.
“Where would you like to begin today,” she asked, almost sounding like a professor.
He raised an eyebrow at her, as a mischievous grin painted across his lips. “What would you say to a little friendly duel?”
Hermione smirked at him while shaking her head. He had yet to beat her in all the times they had done so.
“So I see you feel like getting your arse kicked this afternoon?” she taunted playfully.
When she turned around to take her cloak off, she shrieked, as she felt as if she were hooked around the ankle and whipped up into the air, where she dangled upside down.
“Severus Snape!” she shouted. Severus doubled over with laughter. “You are so done for,” she snarled through her teeth, which only caused him to laugh harder.
With a flick of his wand, he gently lowered her back down onto the ground, still unable to stop laughing at her. Her long black hair, which she always had charmed to be straight and tamed, was now wild around her face, and her robes had become disheveled. She knew she must have looked a sight, and she couldn't stop the giggle that came from her.
“Don't think because I'm laughing it means I'm not angry, Severus,” she tried to say with conviction, yet even sounded half-hearted in her own ears.
Severus rolled his eyes. “Sure you are, Hermione.”
She took advantage of his moment of distraction and silently sent a Leg Locking Curse his way. Now it was her turn to laugh when his eyes widened, and his legs went straight and stuck together. She completely lost it when he teetered for a second and then fell straight back onto one of the pillows she had transfigured.
A low growl came from him as he landed.
“Serves you right,” she said, then stuck her tongue out.
He wiggled back and forth, looking somewhat like a turtle on his back, before glaring up at her.
“Little help?” he snapped, looking a bit more like the man she knew in her youth, than the person she cared for now.
She covered her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter, when he glared up at her again.
Taking pity on him, she walked over and stuck her arm out to perform the counter curse. The moment she did, she yelped when he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her down on top of him.
Her heart pounded as her body was pressed against his so intimately for the first time. His eyes went from light and playful to dark and smoldering. She swallowed audibly and bit her lip when she suddenly felt her entire body heat up.
“You think you're funny, don't you?” he asked in a low baritone.
Hermione shivered. “Only a little,” she replied, sounding out of breath.
He let out a deep chuckle before wrapping both arms around her waist and crashing his lips onto hers. They've kissed a number of times before then, but now it had been different. Gone were the sweet and innocent kisses, now they were tangled together in a fit of passion that she could tell both of them had been holding back on.
She felt his tongue lightly graze her lips, and she opened up to join both of theirs together. His hands pulled at her hair, while she dug her fingers into his shoulders. She squeaked in surprise when he shifted from beneath her, flipping her onto her back and hovered above of her. They hadn't broken their kiss at any time.
While she raked her fingers down his back, she marveled at the feel of it. She'd expected bony, not ever imagining the lean muscles her hands ran across. She drank him in thirstily, as if he was the first bottle of water she had seen after months of roaming the desert. His scent surrounded her, and filled her up. The scent that was uniquely Severus, even in adulthood -- sandalwood and something almost earthy. Her head was a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, as she felt his fingers travel beneath her jumper and lightly trace the bare skin at her sides. She wanted him to keep going, yet she knew they needed to stop, but if he didn't keep going she would surely combust.
When his mouth left hers and began trailing down her neck, gently grazing his teeth into her flesh, she came to her senses. This wasn't right. They were moving far too quickly. Although she'd more than wanted it to continue, they had to stop.
“Severus,” she panted.
He hummed softly, yet continued to kiss her neck.
“Severus,” she repeated, a little more forcefully this time, and gently pushed his shoulders.
When he looked down at her, his brow furrowed and a small pout tugged at his lips.
“I'm -- I'm sorry Hermione,” he said, also very winded. “We’re moving too fast, aren't we?”
She smiled up at him, hoping to reassure him that she wasn't angry, since she could sense from his expression and tone of voice that he was worrying.
Hermione placed her hand on his cheek and gave him a small peck on the mouth.
“It's not that I -- I don't,” her breath hitched. “want to. It's just that… well. Not yet.”
“You're not upset with me?” he asked.
Hermione’s eyes widened. “Of course not! I was hoping you weren't upset with me,” she admitted.
He shook his head. “Never.”
She was glad that he wasn't angry with her, as he rolled to his side, then pulled her closer, so her head was resting on his chest. His heart was beating a fast as hers, she noticed as she laid there.
“I would never make you do anything you weren't comfortable doing. You know that, right?” he asked, kissing the crown of her head.
Hermione’s heart swelled. He sounded so sincere in that moment. Severus never ceased to amaze her with how different he had been in his youth. If only she could keep him that way forever. Her eyes prickled with unshed tears at the thought of the broken and bitter man he would one day become. Knowing him beforehand made it even that much more heartbreaking. And knowing that she couldn't do anything to prevent the way his life would be headed was nearly too much for her to take.
“I do, Severus,” she choked out, her throat tight with emotion.
The two laid in that spot for nearly an hour, just talking. They spoke of their childhoods, which again touched Hermione, since he shared much more about his awful upbringing than he had previously. He spoke more in depth about how abusive his father was, to both he and his mother. She felt a strong hatred for that man, one to rival the hatred she had for Vernon and Petunia Dursely -- although she'd never admitted to Harry how much she despised his neglectful aunt and uncle.
He spoke of his hopes for the future, which saddened her when he tried to include her in some of those plans. Such as the traditional tour of the world that some students went on after leaving Hogwarts. The hope and wistful tone in his voice was nearly her undoing, as she fought the urge to cry.
She knew she'd never be able to embark on those travels with him, but for a small moment in time, she let herself pretend as the talked about where they wanted to go and all the sights they'd wanted to see. Perhaps if she succeeded in her mission they would be able to do it together one day. No, she thought to herself, when she succeeded, they would go one day.
A/N - Hi everyone! I just want to give a massive thank you, and tons of hugs to everyone who has been reading, reviewing, favoriting and showing so much love!! You're all the sweetest people in the world! *squish* I hope you all enjoyed the chapter, even though it was kinda filler-ish, but I was having fluffy Snamione feels when I wrote it haha. But thank you again!! Really, you're all the best! ♥
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