Hey! Your writing is brilliant and your portrayal of Severus is spot on! Writing such a complex character mustn't be easy, so congrats! I was wondering if you could write Severus struggling to confess his feelings for his SO (it can be Hermione, if it's easier for you to write the scene with her). Let's face it, he would be so freaking nervous and cute while trying not to make a stuttering fool of himself! I just want to read a oneshot about that :-) PLEASE and TY
Severus forced himself to look into the mirror and attempted to smile at himself.
“Ugh,” he muttered, a scowl creasing his forehead several times over. “That’ll never do. I look like a creep.”
He did not say like a fool, but then again, self-evident things did not need to be said aloud.
For as long as he could remember, Severus had gone through extreme lengths to retain his dignity and gain the respect of others, but it seemed that Fate had other ideas. There was, however, only one thing that he hated more than being seen as foolish or disrespected.
“No. I refuse to be a coward,” he said to his reflection. “Today I shall tell her.”
Hermione Granger had been scarred and traumatized at least as much as the rest of them, but she endured. Flourished, even. But tragedy had its way of striking. She’d been set to marry the youngest Weasley boy when he’d died heroically protecting a school bus full of muggle children from a rogue Death Eater’s explosive curse magic. Not two days after the funeral she’d just thrown herself even more tirelessly into her work, writing papers on Transfiguration on the side and publishing them, much to the delight of the Transfiguration community, which hadn’t seen this much activity since the 1800’s. As Minerva had grown older and more comfortable in her Headmistress duties, she’d been thankful to give Hermione as much extra work as her heart desired. She’d been promoted from Transfiguration professor to Head of Gryffindor and Deputy Headmistress in slightly under a decade.
Tonight would be her thirtieth birthday, and Severus knew that his luck would only hold out for so long before someone finally came along and snapped her amazing arse up and rode off into the sunset with her or whatever horrible cliched metaphor his brain had decided to trot out to the forefront of his imagination each day.
He hadn’t meant to fall for the brazen Deputy Headmistress, but then again, he hadn’t expected to survive, much less return to Hogwarts. Minerva still ruled the roost as Headmaster, but as soon as she’d found out about his postwar dire straits, she refused to leave him alone until he’d returned. He wasn’t exactly a professor any longer- a former Advanced Potions student from Hufflepuff, Vivianne Tempson was an exceptional Potions Mistress, but she was also gifted in the art of teaching. It was an art, Severus supposed, one that he’d never had much talent for.
Had he not been forced to stick around due to finances and the fact that even with his name cleared, he was still largely despised by the Wizarding World at large, Severus might have moved into a new line of work. But in his mind, that ship had largely sailed. He’d lived most of his life within the stone walls of Hogwarts castle, and he felt vulnerable anywhere else.
“Pathetic,” he’d mutter to himself on particularly despondent nights. His dungeon quarters were just as he’d left them, as no one had wanted to live there if they didn’t absolutely have to. They made a perfect place for skulking, which was one of his favorite activities when he had nothing else to do.
After Madam Pomfrey had retired in the south of France, Severus had become, for all intents and purposes, the new Mediwizard. The truth was, he actually had seventh year prospective medi-magic students run the infirmary as part of a prerequisite for studying at St. Mungos, and he only ever really consulted in on dire cases, which were few. Instead, he mostly spent his time in his lab brewing various potions and experimenting on more potent blends. This was just fine with him. He didn’t have to subject himself to the inanity of whining students, and the students did not have to be subjected to his abrasive personality. He filled in for the odd class here and there- Severus knew pretty much all of the classes by heart and could substitute on a moment’s notice, though the students often dreaded these days for the same reason that Severus did. He also no longer worked as Head of Slytherin House. That honor went to Draco Malfoy, who’d become the Flying professor after Madam Hooch had retired the previous spring.
Oddly enough, it hadn’t bothered him much to find the halls of Hogwarts filled with professors who’d been his own students. After all, Minerva had been his professor for seven years before she’d become his colleague. It’d taken slightly more than a year before Severus had felt comfortable enough to have a less-than-professional conversation with her, but from there, a close friendship had blossomed. They’d raged at each other about Albus and his quirky behaviors. They’d spent time developing inside jokes that could instantly be understood by a knowing nod and the quirk of an eyebrow. But Minerva had always been more like an older sister or a cool motherly sort of figure, not a romantic prospect.
Once again, Severus felt the sour twist of shame in his belly. He felt like some sort of cradle-robbing pervert despite the fact that he’d never so much as laid a finger on Hermione in an untoward manner. Of course, he’d helped administer the salve treatment to help Hermione transform back to a fully human body in her second year after her disastrous PolyJuice accident, but none of that had been remotely sexual, and Madam Pomfrey had been attending in any case. The whole time she’d been in school, he’d had the same irrational protective-yet-irritated frame of mind when it came to anything involving her. She’d stood out in her intelligence and drive to learn more, but that had been completely academic.
Severus thought back to the Thursday evenings in the professor’s lounge where they’d go on for hours and debate back and forth on current events, or new potions versus old standards…anything and everything, really. It had started a few years earlier and become something that Severus looked forward far too much for his own good.
Not that he’d allow himself to admit that to anyone.
On top of that, she’d invited him to help her with a new brewing project she’d been working on to reduce the symptoms of those affected by lycanthropy throughout the month. As someone who’d brewed Wolfsbane perfectly for years and had a personal potions lab set up in the dungeons, which was connected to his quarters through a hidden passageway, Severus had been all too happy to offer her the space. At first, they’d worked at separate sides, but she’d come up with reasons to disturb him, to brush against him…to…Severus shook his head. No. It was all in his head…but then again…what if it wasn’t?
It was Saturday morning. She would probably be in the lab already, as he’d given her the password to the armor that guarded the door to his lab. Rather than go around, Severus decided to take the secret passageway from his quarters, if only to get a bit more time to himself to decide on whether he was going to put everything on the line just to confess his ridiculous, traitorous feelings.
Severus was an expert at suppressing his feelings, but this was different. It was impossible for him to deny how she made him feel. His heart ached when she said his name. No amount of occlumency could keep his shields up when she looked up at him with her amber eyes and smiled in that confident way that made her eyes crinkle a bit at the corners.
Oh, how he craved that smile.
Severus came through the swinging bookcase, his head still filled with anxiety, and nearly barreled full-tilt into Hermione, who was in the process of putting on a thick pair of rubber gloves.
Severus let out a yelp just as Hermione turned and squeaked in surprise, her leg caught on the edge of the bookcase. Unconsciously, he reached out and grabbed her as she began to fall and pulled her close against his chest. For a long moment, they both stayed like that- Severus with his arms grasping her tightly and Hermione with her head folded against his chest, her heartbeat slowly going back to normal.
“Severus, I didn’t see you there!” Hermione said, finally, her voice a bit muffled.
Severus immediately released her and took a step back, his face growing hot with mortification. “I…it was…I was late…and…I apologize for manhandling you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Hermione replied with a smile and a shrug. “At least I wasn’t handling anything caustic when you came through. Where, exactly does that passageway lead?”
“My…er…quarters,” Severus admitted.
“That’s rather convenient,” Hermione said, nodding sagely, “I bet you can come and check on long-standing brews with ease.”
“Yes, that was the intended…er…rationale,” Severus replied, relief washing over him.
“Hey, maybe you could invite me back for a cuppa while I’m waiting for my Lupislazurary to steep,” Hermione said with a smirk. “I mean, you have to admit that the chairs here are murder to sit in.”
“I’d like that.” Severus blurted the words out before he could properly think of whether it would be the smartest thing to say.
“Oh?” Hermione seemed surprised.
Severus inwardly cringed. Of course she wouldn’t be so impolite as to actually invite herself to his quarters, but he’d taken the words at face value, largely because it would make this whole maneuver so much easier if he could actually figure out if she felt the same way about him.
“You’re welcome to come anytime. In my quarters.” Severus winced. God, he was cocking it all up. “I mean, I’d love to have you-have…tea with you…”
Hermione’s eyes widened and something like recognition filled her expression.
Severus felt his own eyes mirroring hers. “What I mean is…I…”
He was stuttering as she pulled the single rubber glove off of one of her hands with a loud snapping sound reached up to cup his face under the right side of his jaw.
Merlin, her hand is so soft and warm. Despite his anxiety, Severus closed his eyes, leaning into her touch.
“Ah,” Hermione’s voice was soft, but there was so much wonder in that soft breath of a word, that Severus could feel his pulse begin to race.
“Ah, indeed,” Severus replied, his voice catching slightly as he opened his eyes again and looked at her with a mixture of sadness and longing.
“Oh, Severus, why didn’t you say something earlier?” Hermione said, her voice slightly husky.
“I…am not good with words,” Severus replied numbly, feeling almost as though the words were being said from outside of himself.
Are we really speaking about the same thing?
“I thought…Minerva said…she said you’d never…”
“Never what?” Severus could feel his voice go gravelly as he struggled to swallow the lump that had mysteriously appeared in his throat.
“That no one could compare to the one you lost, so it was a fool’s errand to try,” Hermione said, taking her hand back and looking away from him.
Severus stared at her for a long moment. And then, a tiny giggle escaped his lips, growing until he was practically roaring with a hysterical, uncontrollable sort of laughter.
“She said that I….Merlin’s pants, that’s…that’s…the most…ludicrous…” he gasped and suddenly he could feel all of the doubt and the anxiety drain from his body as though it had seeped from the soles of his dragonhide boots. It was time. He would tell her. “Hermione…this is how I feel about you.”
Threading his fingers through her wild, curly hair, he leaned down and kissed her.