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Deslea R. Judd
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters/Keywords: Severus Snape/Hermione Granger
Rating: PG for a little strong language.
Spoilers/Timeframe: Post-war, canon compliant excluding epilogue.
Summary: Humour. After the war, Snape is a reluctant war hero, and the witches come a-courting. To Snape's bemusement, one of them is Hermione Granger.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
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There is a woman at his side.
This is an unfortunate but not uncommon occurrence of late. Severus is a reluctant celebrity, thanks to that blasted git Potter telling all his secrets in the final battle with Voldemort. Every man and his owl knows of his tragic fated love affair with Lily Potter, of his tormented decades as a double agent protecting her son, his anguish at killing his own best friend. Or so the editorials in the Daily Prophet tell him, anyway.
That alone he could tolerate. It chafes at him, of course, but on the other hand, the warm glow of vindication after years of suspicion has its own rewards. Especially when it involves various enemies from the Ministry at his bedside, delivering speeches of thanks through gritted teeth on behalf of the whole wizarding world.
No, it's the bedside part of the picture that's the problem. He'd had the sense to inoculate himself against Nagini's venom, of course, but the attack itself had been brutal, a bloodletting of its own. And then that idiot boy Potter had been unable to distinguish between coma and departing the mortal coil! Thank Merlin for Minerva, who had come to retrieve his body in fairly short order and found a pulse.
So now he is a virtual prisoner at St Mungo's, with its cheery nurses and the ever-growing collection of tributes that they simply won't throw out. Not to mention the parade of women who want to minister to him and tend his deep rending emotional wounds, Merlin help him.
Not that he is averse to the prospect of female company. In all his years as a double agent, he had never dared consider such a thing. It would be much too dangerous, for her and for him. The last thing he needed was an emotional attachment that could be used as leverage against him. Contrary to the premature eulogies of the Prophet, he is not now and forever bound to Lily Potter, however important she had been to him; she is long dead, and it is simply that circumstances have never permitted him to form a new attachment.
He had been reduced to the brothels of Knockturn Alley, and even then not too often, and never to the same woman. Severus has been accused more than once of being a stuffed shirt, and the whole rigmarole was mildly offensive to his sensibilities. Contrary to common belief, courtesans are often perfectly nice, if impoverished witches one would happily bring home to mother, but the farcical nature of the arrangement and the fact that he was reduced to it in the first place had annoyed him beyond measure.
So the attention of women is not of itself unwelcome. This, however, is every bit as much a farce as his excursions to Knockturn Alley. The cloying attentions of the women who want their own brush with a hero (and who have no knowledge whatever of him as a person) are not much different to a parade of courtesans vying for his galleons. At least with the courtesans, the terms of trade were known. On both sides.
So now, another woman sits at his side. He has not yet opened his eyes, but he can smell her. It is a lemony, natural smell, with perhaps just the lightest touch of fragrance, so light that he can't be sure.
He amuses himself by building a picture in his mind. Her scent is nothing like the heavy perfumes used by the women his own age. She is either younger, or young at heart. There is little sound; she doesn't fidget. She is sitting there patiently, waiting for him to wake, no fussing with his pillows or rearranging his questionable tributes. Practical and sensible, then. Not too sensible, or else she wouldn't be here at all, but more so than most.
Presently, he hears a page turn. It's a heavy page; not the Prophet, nor a women's magazine. It's a book of some substance. For the first time, he feels a twinge of interest. Cautiously, he opens his eyes.
Hermione Granger sits there, her nose buried in a brand new copy of Amortentia: Administration, Effects, And Antidotes.
Hermione fucking Granger.
You've got to be shitting me.
"I do hope, Miss Granger, that you're not planning to put that book to use on me."
She jolts in her chair. "Professor," she says, "you're awake."
"And you're as observant as ever."
She dismisses this with a wave of her hand. "Yes, yes, you're very droll." She closes the book and puts it on his bedside table. "Actually, it's a gift for you, in case someone manages to slip you a love potion. I do hope you've had the sense not to eat or smell anything those awful women have brought you."
"Finally, a gift I might possibly be able to use. However, Miss Granger, has it occurred to you that having survived twenty years with Voldemort, I can probably also manage a few besotted witches on my own?"
She snorts. "Well, if you gave me a choice between fighting Voldemort and fighting those old harridans, I'd have to stop and think it over."
He spares her a small sound of amusement.
"However," she goes on, "I can't be too critical without being hypocritical in the process. I myself am here to declare my intentions."
"Do go on," he says with more than a trace of irony.
"When you're well, Professor Snape, I intend to commence my oh-so-polite pursuit." Then, perhaps fearing she had not been quite clear enough, she adds, "Of you."
He gives a bark of amusement. "Oh, Merlin, not you too. I suppose I should thank you for being upfront about it, at least. And for having the decency to wait, unlike the other harridans."
"I thought it fitting. When you taught me as a girl," she says, as though that were decades ago and not a year, "you may have been quite mean but you also fought fair." He cocks an eyebrow at her, and she hastens to explain, "You never stabbed us in the back. You hit us between the eyes and we had it coming."
"I can't tell you, coming fresh out of a war, how refreshing it is to hear that you equate your courtship of me with battle," he says dryly. "But Miss Granger, may I ask what on earth has possessed you? You fought in the war. Unlike the other harridans, you cannot be under any illusions about the myth of the brooding tortured war hero. I am, I'm told, extremely unpleasant to live with, and that is unlikely to change much in the near future just because the war is over."
"I'm sure you're even worse than your reputation," she says mildly. "However, I wasn't necessarily planning on living with you for some time even if my pursuit were successful. We're both very independent and self-sufficient people, and I should like to travel and study. I imagine a regime of separate accommodations connected by Floo would suit us quite well."
His eyebrow arches higher. "You've given this some thought, then."
"No, I was wandering past St Mungo's and figured I'd go shopping for a husband, and yours was the first door I saw. Really, Professor, have you ever seen me without a plan?"
"No need to get snippy, Miss Granger." He says curiously, "I can't imagine you haven't thought about the considerable age difference. You are, I believe, eighteen?"
She inclines her head. "And a half."
"Which just proves my point. An age where half a year still matters. And I'm thirty-eight."
She says, amused, "Practically ancient, in fact."
"One foot in the grave," he agrees with a smirk. "But Merlin's beard, Miss Granger. I can understand that a serious and intelligent young lady such as yourself would not wish to be tied down to a nitwit like Weasley - or, indeed, any boy her own age. But there's no need to pursue a man nearing forty either. There must be a middle ground."
"Oh, I dare say," she agrees. "My dating pool, however, is just as constrained as yours. Like you, I shall attract all the wrong sorts of attention. Did you know there are T-shirts for sale in Diagon Alley, with my face on them? And the slogan, 'The Smartest Witch Of Her Generation'?"
His mouth twitches. "Yes, I can see how that would be torture to you, Miss Granger."
"Yours have an artist's rendition of you and Lily, and the slogan 'Love Overcomes Darkness.' It's not as catchy, but teenage girls love them. The Weird Sisters are putting out a single."
He pales. "They're NOT."
She says with a sly grin, "You know, the merchandising of you and Lily would probably die down if you started dating. Sort of pulls the pin on the romantic tragic pining away thing, you know? And with me, at least you'll never have to worry about what's in your drink."
He sighs. "I suppose after twenty years with the Dark Lord, a fair fight would be...novel. And it would keep the harridans at bay."
She gives a wide smile. Rises.
"Then let the games begin."