Title: Stuck in a Moment
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things HP belong to JK Rowling, et al.
Distribution: WLS, WLF.
Author’s Note: Just a quick HG/SS piece.
Hermione glared sullenly across the room where her fellow prisoner was sitting. This was unbearable, worse that the most devious torture anyone could possibly have thought up. Being locked in a house with Severus Snape, of all people. It was as though she were being punished for some awful deed.
But this wasn’t punishment.
Or, it was, but not in the sense that the person inflicting it on her actually meant to ‘punish’ her, per se.
In fact, she was pretty sure Dumbledore was completely oblivious to that fact that forcing her on this ‘retreat’ with Severus was something that she ranked right up there with having all of her finger and toe nails pulled out with a red hot set of tongs.
Actually, now that she pondered the possibility of that particular excruciating pain, she found that she favored it over sitting in a small cabin with a man that could care less whether she lived or died.
Not an exaggeration, he had told her just as much on more than one occaision.
But, no, the Headmaster in all of his questionable wisdom had deemed that she and Severus just needed some time ‘alone’ to ‘get to know each other better’.
Hadn’t she gotten to know him quite well enough in the seven years she was his student, not to mention the past two years that she had been teaching Charms at Hogwarts? That wasn’t to say that she knew him well – but she knew him *well enough*.
For instance, she knew that he was just as miserable being locked up in this little cabin as she was. They were literally locked in; Dumbledore had sealed off the Floo network and magically locked all of the windows and doors. They had a portkey which he cautioned them to use only under extreme emergency with the admonition that he may find reason to formally tarnish their exemplary records in teaching if they were to do otherwise.
And so they sat.
Wondering when he would see fit to release them from their jailing. Only a day had gone by and already they were both completely miserable.
Though why she was miserable was for a reason altogether different from why he was miserable, she was sure. She was utterly dejected for some very simple reasons. The first being that Severus Snape didn’t think that she was even worthy of the most minimal of conversation. He had not spoken to her for nearly the entire twenty-four hours that they had been locked in. The second reason, she had to admit, was not that simple at all upon further examination.
She liked Severus.
No, not just ‘like’ – but *Like*.
‘You want to shag him like there’s no tomorrow,’ her troublesome inner self murmured.
Unfortunately, that inner self was completely right. She wanted to get him in her bed one way or the other – had wanted that much from him since seventh year, possibly even before though she wouldn’t admit to it. That meant, at the least, three years of wanting a man who pretty much couldn’t stand even the sight of her. She was nothing but Harry Potter’s sidekick.
She sighed, turning back to the book in her lap. Attempting to chase away her own morose thoughts was like trying to drive the clouds from the sky – impossible.
But at least she could try to get some reading done.
He could hear her, smell her, feel her very presence in the room with him.
And it irritated him.
Dumbledore had well and truly lost his mind this time, there was no way around it. Another few hours of this and he would be ready to use the portkey to get away even if it meant a formal censure. He didn’t care. Being locked up with Hermione Granger was like having one’s teeth pulled without a numbing spell to ease the pain. It was like having slivers of glass shoved into the skin and then broken into a million little shards that would poke at you internally.
It was Hell.
Another sigh – dear Merlin, did she ever just be quiet?
Severus ground his teeth together, holding back the sarcastic comment that threatened to pour from his lips, something scathing that would make those brown eyes of hers water with tears. Her face would get red and puffy, most unbecoming.
He risked a glance at her out of the corner of his eye. She was just sitting there, by the window, a scowl on her face. The book in her lap appeared to have been forgotten, again; and he couldn’t imagine what could be going on in her mind to make her look so angry. Surely this called for some belligerence, but not that much. Not a look that would make a basilisk proud.
Since when did he care, anyway?
Ah yes, that age old question. When had he began to care about the bushy haired little sidekick of Harry Potter? At what point had her well-being become one of his concerns, no matter how many times he told her otherwise. He didn’t speak to her now in harshness because on some level he didn’t want to see her cry.
Of course, on other levels, it was still just because he did not want to have to deal with a whining, crying woman.
He heard her shut her book and looked up in time to see her disappear upstairs. The sun had not yet set, so he could not imagine why she would be going up there so soon. Especially since the bedrooms, side by side, tended to get a little cold both during the day and the night. They had avoided them so far except to sleep.
Well, perhaps she needed a nap.
He glanced down at the book in his hands, reading through a few more pages before thoughts of the Hermione drove him to all distraction. Was it so hard to be nice to her, he wondered? So hard to just admit that yes, perhaps he had feelings for her, and to move on from there whether it meant ‘getting the girl’ or not?
The Potions Master shut the book with a snap, tossing it carelessly on the end table near the old frumpy chair he had claimed as ‘his’ for the duration of their stay. There was no noise from her room as he climbed the stairs and the door was shut. She had decided on that nap, after all, it seemed. That was fine as he was personally going to indulge in a long, hot bath.
He gathered his robe and bathing supplies from a bedroom that could only be described as a comfortable match to the frumpy chair that he had been sitting in only minutes before. The house, it seemed, matched Dumbledore’s personality in an eerie way.
The door to the bathroom was shut, which he found only mildly strange with the drafts that blew through the cabin-like house, but placing an ear to the wood he could not hear anything. And Hermione was in her room napping, was she not?
He placed a hand on the door latch, pushing in; it creaked softly as it opened.
A gust of warm, damp air hit him in the face and if he had been thinking clearly he would have taken a moment to realize that it only meant one thing.
But he was caught up in the notion of a relaxing soak and so he stepped into the room without thinking, his breath catching in his throat as he saw for the first time that the room was no as unoccupied as he had previously thought.
He stopped, dead still, just inside the doorway, staring in wonder at the sight that greeted his eyes. Hermione, head back, her chest rising and falling gently as though in sleep. A washrag was laid across her eyes so he could not see if they were closed or not, though he assumed that they would be. She had added bubble bath to the waters, and the sudsy material clung to her skin, blocking off any portions of her that would warrant the scene being labeled as indecent.
Those bits and pieces of her flesh were not needed for Severus to feel the near-instant reaction of his body to hers. He groaned softly, biting his lip in vexation with himself the moment the sound hit the air.
“You’re letting out the warm air.”
He was . . .what?
“I am terribly sorry, Miss Granger. I did not realize the bathroom was occupied. I’ll just be going.”
Hermione gave a mighty mental snort at that. He might not have realized she was in here, but he had certainly stood there for right on the last five minutes just watching her. Just because the rag was over her eyes didn’t mean that she hadn’t heard the door open or felt the temperature in the room change. And she had most definitely heard that groan that came from his mouth. She was wet just from that simple gesture of unconscious desire.
Unconscious was the word for it, though. He did not feel that way about her. His was the reaction of a man to any woman should he be so inclined to look at women in a lusty way.
“You can either come in and talk.” She sighed, still unmoving from the comfort of her relaxation. “Or you can leave. But, please, shut the door.”
She wondered what his decision would be and waited, breath caught in her chest. The door shut and she could hear no other sound for a long moment and then. . .
“What do you suppose Dumbledore’s reasoning is behind locking us up like wild animals?”
Hermione nearly choked on the breath she had been holding as a laugh escaped from her mouth.
“Probably that we’ll get to know each other and come back better Professors for the effort.”
She would have to say that Severus was getting to know her better already, though, she thought. He was standing in the bathroom with her while she bathed, after all. That was much more than she had hoped for when she issued her imperious demand to have the door shut.
“And do you think that is the case, Miss Granger?”
She sighed and lifted one corner of the washrag to glare at him, her chocolate eyes meeting those black depths of his.
“I don’t think we’ll ever get anywhere, *Severus*, if you insist on refusing to call me Hermione. It is my name after all and I am not a student, despite what you may believe.”
Perhaps it was the fact that an argument with a naked, bubble-covered woman is a difficult thing to win that made the agitated-looking wizard agree so quickly.
“You are right, Hermione.”
She smiled, letting the wash rag drop back over her eyes.
Score one for her.
He watched her go back to her bath with the air of someone who felt as though they’d just won a major battle.
Well, maybe she had. She had gotten him to say her name and admit she was right, all in one fell swoop.
Good for her, though if she thought she had won anything, especially their conversation, she was sorely mistaken. He shifted, wishing for nothing more than an ease to the ache in the regions of his body that were standing at quite rigid attention in light of the woman laying in the bathtub only a few feet away.
“Why don’t you like me, Severus?”
“I – What?” The question brought him up short, the blood that he needed so desperately for thinking choosing to instead inhabit his throbbing shaft.
“You heard me, wizards don’t loose their hearing like Muggle men. So – I ask again. Why. Don’t. You. Like. Me.”
But he did, he wanted to shout. He liked her, despite all of his best attempts not to. Without meaning to he had come to enjoy being around her.
“You are Potter’s . . .”
“Pathetic.” She snapped, still just laying there as though the entire conversation was a bore to her. “All these years and the only reason you can give me is because I was friends with Harry. A good many people are friends with him, you know. Do you hate all of them? Dumbledore maybe?”
He bit his tongue, foregoing the mention that the Headmaster was definitely not on his list of favorite people after this little ‘retreat’.
“If you can’t answer the question – then just go.” She tilted her head to the side, as if considering something, and then flung the rag off of her eyes. “Nevermind, I’ll go. It doesn’t really matter why you don’t care for me, after all. Only that you *don’t*.”
Severus choked on a lungful of air as she stood from the water, bubbles clinging to her curves. He felt that throbbing pulse in his groin increase tenfold, now painful in its intensity.
“Hermione. . . clothes. Now.”
How *dare* he interrupt *her* bath and then order her to cover herself when she decided she had enough? Immature man! As if he had never seen a naked woman before! The human body was a work of art, she had read somewhere. Well, from the look on Severus’ face it looked as though he didn’t quite understand the meaning of this ‘art’.
She snorted at her own thoughts and shook her head, grabbing for a towel. The feel of the terry cloth on her skin was almost as nice as silk. The towel’s thickness plucked at the little drops of water that beaded on her skin, sucking them off one by one as she laboriously dried her body.
All the while Severus just stood there, his mouth hanging open like a dead fish. She smirked, keeping the expression mental, and continued to fight down the blush that threatened to break out every time she recalled what it was exactly that she was doing –
Toweling herself dry in front of Severus Snape.
Oh sure, it was something dreams were made of. Naughty dreams, at that. Dreams of snogging and shagging and lots of other things that would involve a bed –
Or a floor or a wall. . .
“And what has caused you to blush as red as a Weasley’s hair at this stage in our game, Hermione?”
She jumped, not even aware that he had moved, much less that he was now standing right beside her. A shiver went through her body involuntarily even as she cursed herself for allowing her blushing self to come out in the open for his prying eyes. How stupid she must look, standing there toweling herself off with a blush that covered every inch of her body.
She was pretty. Not gorgeous or stunning. But pretty. Her face was not plain, nor was her body. She was curvy in all the right places and her face was what most would call ‘cute’. Not plain but not a knockout.
But still quite enough for him.
He had moved to stand next to her without a thought to the matter, watching her towel herself off, a blush creeping over her skin. It went all the way down, he noted with a smirk, to the cinnamon colored curls of between her legs.
Merlin help him – he was reaching out, touching her arm, trailing a finger along that satiny softness.
And she wasn’t stopping him.
Hermione stilled as Severus’ fingers first found her skin, wandering hesitatingly over flesh that was still damp from the bath. She closed her eyes, letting him touch her as he would or discontinue if that was his plan. When he didn’t stop after a few moments, during which his wandering hands found their way to her back, she allowed herself to ponder the meaning of it all.
He was touching her – freely. Without the aid of potion, curse, or hex she had gotten Severus Snape to touch her.
And – oh – how good his touch felt! Soft hands, unmarred by years of potion making. His touch was tender, precise; again a credit to the field he was a Master in.
“Do you want this. . .?”
Her eyes flew open, the touch that had just been at her back receding with the softly spoken question.
“You silly man.” She murmured, shaking her head in amusement. “I wouldn’t have let you stay in the room while I bathed if I did *not* want this.”
The gentle quirk of his lips that followed her statement was the closest thing she had ever seen to a smile on his sharply etched faced. It made her feel tingly and wet on the inside, her body anticipating great things in store for them if he would only pick up where he had stopped.
He pulled the towel from her hand, now limp with the wish not to shake uncontrollably form the desire that had pooled within her body. She closed her eyes again as the cloth touched her skin, spurred on by the tantalizingly slow motions of the man that held it. His hands squeezed gently at her flesh at ever curve and line; the towel’s soft roughness a welcome contrast against her skin.
Drying complete, she opened her eyes again. They didn’t speak, the words were not necessary at this point; body language was one of silence.
At least one of the bedrooms would be warm tonight, it seemed.