CHAPTER 5: Invisible
Happy bloody fucking Halloween, Snape thought as he made his way to the Great Hall for breakfast on Halloween morning. The sky reflected in the enchanted ceiling was overcast and gray, just like Snape’s mood. He dropped gracelessly into his usual seat and began filling his plate with biscuits, eggs, and bacon. A cup of his favorite, steaming breakfast tea appeared before him as the early bird students began filing into the room. There was a clinking of cutlery as the students began filling their plates with food. Snape sneered.
It’s going to be a wonderful day, he thought sarcastically. Everyone will be so wound up about this stupid ball that they won’t have any mind to pay attention. At least it will be good for me. I can hack off House points left and right, maybe assign a detention or two. Maybe I’ll even cajole a few dunderheads into provoking me so I can give them a detention tonight. That’ll give me an excuse to get out of this damned thing.
You know Dumbledore won’t fall for that, came another voice inside his head. Oh, dear Merlin! Didn’t this stupid thing ever shut up? That stupid voice had been at him all week about his confrontation with Hermione in the library on Saturday. There’s no way out of this one, Severus. Go and enjoy yourself! Or… at least, try to. I think you’ve quite forgotten how. Maybe you could even ask Hermione for a dance. You know, show her that you still love her, even after all that mess.
He sneered violently at the thought, enough to prompt Dumbledore to ask if he was all right. As he assured the headmaster that he was fine, Snape could still hear that pesky voice harping off in his head. You know you’ve thought about it all these years, Severus. That’s why it hurts so much. You’ve turned it over and over in your head until you feel dizzy. And now, she’s come crawling… well, not literally crawling, but you get my point… back to you, begging for forgiveness. No matter how deep she cut, no matter how much she hurt you, you know as well as I do that you’ll give it to her.
“Yes,” he muttered under his breath, hoping no one heard or saw him talking to himself. “Yes, I’ll forgive her because I just don’t have it in me to deny her anything now. Not after that admiring display in the library yesterday. But I won’t do it now. I have waited over four years to have her in my arms. She can wait a while longer as well.”
Snape started shoveling food in his mouth with as much ferocity as to rival Ronald Weasley’s ardor. Mechanically, he forced himself to focus on his task at hand. Chew. Chew. Swallow. He snickered at himself, thinking that pain in the arse conscience of his had disappeared. He thought wrong.
Just look down at her, Severus. Just a quick peek. She looks so lovely this morning. Seems like the old Hermione’s back… look at how confident she seems. She stood up to you, is a feat in itself. She literally bared her soul in front of you. You wouldn’t have seen anything any clearer if you’d done Legilimency on her. Her emotions always did show on her face. Never could hide anything, that one. Snape chuckled, remembering the look on her face when he made brought up her theft in her second year. The first time he’d seen her in three years and he had made her smile. Shock, awe, humiliation, humor. He quirked an eyebrow in amusement.
Astounding, isn’t it? You can make one woman feel so much at one time. There used to be a time you could do more than that, Severus. Think of how sweet it would be with Hermione, knowing she was willing. Knowing she wanted you and loved you. Give in, just this once. Those beautiful chestnut curls twined around your fingers, or spilling out behind her over your pillows. Her soft curves pressed against you. That tantalizing mouth turned up to you, just waiting…
“ENOUGH!” he hissed, drawing a bit of attention from Professor Sinistra, who was sitting next to him. “I just want to get this damned day over with.”
Hermione stood in front of the mirror in her bathroom, staring at herself. Her chestnut curls were cascading down her back in soft ringlets. She took a handful of the curls dangling over her left shoulder and pinned it back near the crown of her head with a few bobby pins. Then, she clasped a large, bright red rose behind and just above her ear. She stood back to take in the rest of her costume with glee.
The brownish gold skirt looked as if it had been ripped in a few places and fell at a bit of an angle to about mid-calf. A dark green lace shawl was wrapped around her and fell off her right hip. And oh, the bodice! It had taken McGonagall and two house elves to get her into the thing properly. It laced up tightly in the back like a corset and squeezed her ribs until it was difficult for her to breathe. It was a deep burgundy as it rose from just above her hips, up over her stomach, and pushed her already ample cleavage higher. A small red rose rested like a broach on the bodice, drawing attention to her breasts. Straps of white lace were attached to the top of the bodice, but they continually slipped off her bare shoulders until she was tired of adjusting them.
Hermione turned on the spot, admiring the way the skirt and the shawl fell over her arse and hips. The gold bracelet jingled as she moved her wrist. The one on her ankle did the same. She smiled shyly and felt a blush rise all the way from the top of her breasts up to her hairline. She looked perfect and she knew it. She only hoped Severus felt the same. I hope this works, she thought as she made her way out of her rooms, setting her wards as she went.
The Great Hall was decorated with its usual floating jack-o-lanterns, live bats swooping though the room, and the bright, twinkling stars reflected in the enchanted ceiling. The usual House tables were gone, replaced with several dozen round tabled that could seat twenty or so. A dance floor had been placed at the far end of the hall. Situated under the high vaulted windows, the dance floor glittered with moonlight and the lights from a plethora of candles. Hermione’s breath caught as the beauty of the room washed over her. If anything is going to happen, it’s going to happen here. Please, Severus, she thought desperately.
Hermione made her way through the room toward the faculty table. McGonagall and Dumbledore had already arrived, and were waving her over enthusiastically. “Good evening, Hermione,” Dumbledore said as he held out a hand to her. Hermione took it and giggled slightly when the headmaster bent to kiss it. “You look simply ravishing. I should hope you’re not trying to make someone jealous.”
“No, Headmaster. Trying to catch someone’s attention actually,” she replied, sliding into the seat Dumbledore offered to her. As she did, Hermione slipped her fingers between her breasts, and pulled her wand from the front of her corset. She cast a quick Warming Charm on her bare feet before slipping her wand back in its hiding place. “I’m sorry. There was just no other place to put it.”
Professor McGonagall smiled. “Just turn away from the students if you need it, dear. Speaking of the students, they should begin arriving any moment now.”
Professor McGonagall had no sooner spoken those words that the doors to the Great Hall were flung open. The students began filing in, gasping at the beautiful twinkling of the stars and the wafting of the moonlight over the dance floor. They stared around at each other’s costumes, making comments to friends and giggling. As the tide of students pouring into the room subsided, Dumbledore turned to Hermione and smiled.
“I hope you wouldn’t think it too forward of me to have arranged a surprise for you, my dear,” he said sweetly. Hermione smiled warmly at him. She had always thought of him as a bit of a grandfather figure, since she had never known her own. “Good, because I think they are arriving now.”
Dumbledore turned his attention to the large fireplace, and clapped his hands jovially as the flames burst forth in a green flicker. First one, then two, then three forms swept out of the flames, dusting soot from their clothing. The first was a tall young man who didn’t look much older than Hermione. His hair was sandy blonde and pulled into a ponytail with a red ribbon. His clothes looked as if they were made of fine silk and lace. He wore a cravat, breeches, white stockings, and delicate heeled shoes. The second form was a young woman, her long black hair pinned up in a delicate design. Her dress was long and full. It was hunter green with a very form-fitting bodice, showing off the woman’s ample cleavage. She fluttered a lace fan in front of her face, and smiled up at the first figure. The last figure dusted soot off of orange and maroon robes that bore a cannon on the back. A long arm reached up to shift the soot out of bright red hair…
Oh, sweet Merlin, please, it can’t be, Hermione thought desperately. The last figure looked up, and saw her. A pang of lust flashed through those oh, so familiar eyes, as he looked her up and down a few times. Hermione felt her stomach lurch like she had missed a step when going down a flight of stairs. She wanted to be sick, the way he was looking at her. She only wanted one man to look at her like that, and it certainly wasn’t him.
“Oy! There’s Hermione,” the last figure said, taking a stride toward the faculty table. The first two figures followed him in silence. “Thanks for inviting us, Professor Dumbledore.”
“You are most welcome, Mister Weasley,” Dumbledore replied, apparently oblivious to the discomfort of the young lady sitting nearby. “And I take it these two strangers would be Miss Weasley and Mister Potter.”
The first figure bowed low, nearly toppling the wig off of his head. He blushed slightly as he adjusted it. Pulling himself up to his full height, the first figure replied, “Percy Blackney, the Scarlet Pimpernel, at your service.” The figure, most recognizably Harry at such a close range, smiled and stuck out his hand. “Good to see you again, Professor.”
“And you as well, Harry. Ah, let me see… if you are Sir Percy Blackney, then this lovely young lady must be Marguerite St. Just Blackney, your French wife,” Dumbledore said, bowing low, taking the second figure’s hand, and kissing it. “A pleasure to see you again, Miss Weasley. Please take a seat, dinner will be served shortly.”
Harry, Ron, and Ginny each took a seat at the table. Harry sat in the seat Professor McGonagall had vacated only seconds before when she ran off to stop what appeared to be a duel in the entrance hall. Ginny sat to Harry’s left. Professors Sinistra and Flitwick occupied the next two available seats on Ginny’s left. Ron slid in between Hermione and Professor Flitwick.
“Long time, no see, ‘Mione,” Ron said, his voice a low whisper as he eyed her again. Hermione’s skin crawled. “I never saw you wear that when were together.”
“I bet you saw plenty of other girls wear less, Ronald!” she hissed under her breath. She cast a glance at Professor Dumbledore, intending to beg for help, but found him in a deep discussion with Harry. Ginny was staring in her direction. “Can I see your ring, Ginny? I’ve been dying to see what it looked like ever since Harry told me you were engaged.”
Ginny’s eyes lit up as she reached over the table with her left hand. Hermione gasped at the rather vulgar diamond on her finger. “Merlin and Queen Mab, Ginny! That thing must weigh a ton! It probably weighs as much as it cost!”
“Harry won’t tell me how much he spent on it,” Ginny replied; glad to see Hermione lightening up a bit. She glared at her brother, who was openly drooling over what was popping out of the top of Hermione’s bodice. “I thought it was extremely heavy the first week or so I wore it, but I’m used to it now. I hardly notice the thing anymore.”
Hermione giggled, and let Ginny take her hand back. Professor McGonagall had returned, and, noticing her previous seat had been taken, slid into the chair on Dumbledore’s right. That left one chair, the chair between Hermione and McGonagall, for the only missing occupant of this table. Severus, where are you? Hermione thought irritably. Please, hurry! I can’t sit next to Ron all night while he stares at me like a piece of meat. He’d straighten up if you were here!
Just then, the doors to the Great Hall flew open with a bang. A very sour, very uncomfortable Severus Snape entered, and stalked his way over to the faculty table. Hermione’s eyes were so wide she feared they were going to fall out as she looked at him. Snape looked very different, very different indeed. He was dressed in red, and not just any red. It was blood red. He wore a red silk shirt that could barely be seen beneath a heavy, long sleeved red coat. The coat had four gold buttons on the front and tails on the back that fell to just behind his knees. Gold embroidery decorated the cuffs and the tails of the coat. His very fitted trousers were the same blood red. He wore black riding boots that came up to his knees, and a black belt with a sword dangling from it. A long red cape was draped over his left shoulder and trailed behind him. Most of his face was covered with a white mask that resembled a skeleton’s face. A few strands of his black hair tickled the sides of his face while the rest was pulled back at the nape of his neck and tied with a black ribbon.
Oh, sweet Merlin! Hermione gasped as her heart began to pound out of control in her chest. She looked him up and down once… twice… three times, and still couldn’t get over it. Red looks good on him. Oh, bloody hell, everything looks good on him. She could feel the blush rising from the tops of her breasts all the way up to her hairline as he slid into the seat between herself and Professor McGonagall.
“Miss Daae,” he purred into her ear as he sat down. He smirked when he saw the shiver that ran through her. He brushed his hand against her bare shoulder, and felt her body quake at the contact.
Hermione swallowed… hard. She glanced at Snape out of the corner of her eye and felt her heart skip a beat. He was smirking at her. It wasn’t the same smirk she had known as a student. No, this was something different, something that made heat and tension pool in the pit of her stomach. It was something that made every fiber of her being strain toward him. She cleared her throat, and hoped like hell her voice wouldn’t crack. “Phantom. It seems we meet again.”
Snape leaned close to her to whisper in her ear, and every cell in her body began screaming in triumph as she felt the fabric of his coat against her skin. “You look ravishing this evening, Miss Daae. Actually, you look to me like you want to be ravished this evening.”
Her breath quickened again, and she felt as if her heart was going to burst within her chest. Snape’s words twirled themselves through her mind, and conjured images of them together. She could see herself, sprawled and writhing beneath him as he pistoned into her over and over. Hips bucking and her fingers wound in his hair as his tongue slipped in and out of her, torturing her in pleasure. His hands guiding her gently as she knelt before him, sucking him to oblivion. Oh, fuck! she thought as wet heat pooled beneath her thighs.
Hermione was silently thanking whoever had bewitched the clocks that night. It seemed like every minute of the Halloween ball went on for hours. Dinner was pleasant, sitting next to Snape. She listened to his voice as he talked about nothing in particular, leaning her way every once in a while to whisper enticing things in her ear. She could feel the heat that emanated from his body. She felt it mix and pool with her own.
She had been right, of course. She felt much more at ease with dealing with Ron as long as Severus was nearby. It wasn’t that Ron’s manners improved any when Snape appeared (they didn’t). It wasn’t that Ron noticed the whispered conversations between the two (he didn’t). It wasn’t that he took the hints about leaving her alone that Hermione had been trying to give him (he wouldn’t). It was simply the knowledge that if Ron tried anything, Snape would step in. We’re not a couple. That’s not why he would do it, she thought with a smirk. He never liked Ron. That hasn’t changed, and I doubt Severus would pass up the opportunity to give him a good whack with that sword!
Later on in the evening, the teachers were supposed to walk around and make sure that the students were behaving themselves. Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall disappeared out into the entrance hall to check for couples trying to hide in the classrooms or sneak away without being noticed. Professors Sinistra and Flitwick took to patrolling through the tables. Which left Snape and Hermione to break up the joined-at-the-hip couples on the dance floor.
Snape stood, and in a whirl of red, was disappearing into the crowd of students. They parted as he approached, and those who had been clinging tightly together separated so far that Hagrid could have fit between them. Hermione smiled at her tablemates before sweeping off behind Snape. She followed him through the crowd, keeping her eyes on the blood red of his cloak that trailed off behind him. Through the labyrinth she followed, reprimanding a few students here and there, trying desperately to not lose sight of Snape ahead of her.
Someone grabbed her by the arm and pulled her roughly backwards. An arm clasped around her waist, pinning her against the hard male body behind her. The embrace was cold, and it frightened her. Something told her that it wasn’t Snape, who wouldn’t have dared to do such a thing in front of a room full of students. Peeking a glance over her shoulder, Hermione saw it was Ron. His eyes were dark with lust, and they were trained on her heaving breasts.
“It’s last dance, ‘Mione. You saved one for me, right?” he asked huskily in her ear. His voice sent a shiver down her spine, but it wasn’t the same as the shiver Snape’s voice gave her. This time, it was a shiver of fear.
“Let go of me, Ronald. I don’t want to dance with you.” Hermione struggled, trying desperately to hit him somewhere, anywhere that would make him let her free. “Please, don’t do this. Please…”
Just as suddenly as Ron had grabbed her, Hermione felt him let go and back away. She looked behind her, and saw a swirl of red. Then…nothing, nothing but a crowd of students who were making their way off the dance floor as the candle light in the hall grew brighter. The ball was over, and the students began filing out the door to go to bed.
Hermione rushed back to the faculty table, hoping to find Snape there, but he was gone. She hugged Harry and Ginny goodbye and told them she would see them at the wedding. Ron was nowhere to be found. Neither was Severus. Hermione fought back tears as she followed Professor Sinistra out of the doors of the Great Hall and disappeared down the dungeon stairs to her rooms.
Damn you, Weasley! Snape thought as he watched from the side door of the Great Hall. Hermione had followed him through the students, just as he had wanted her to. Like Christine was drawn to the Phantom, so had Hermione been drawn to him. That embarrassing display of having to strut… and yes, for Hermione, Severus Tobias Snape would strut… about it that god awful Gryffindor red costume had almost been worth it. If damned Ronald, friend of Harry-Bloody-Fucking-Potter, Weasley hadn’t shown up.
The lust that raged in the prat’s eyes was unavoidable. Snape had been surprised himself when his trousers began to feel a bit snug at the sight of Hermione in her costume. A few seconds of thinking of McGonagall naked on a cold day had taken care of that, however. He was pleased with her choice of costume, although how she knew his favorite play was The Phantom of the Opera he would never know. Probably that meddling old codger again, he thought. I should remember to thank him for it one day.
Snape had gotten so close to having Hermione in his grasp, and then that stupid son-of-a-whore Weasley had to get in the way. The way he’d heard it, Weasley had dropped Hermione a few years ago when she learned he couldn’t keep his hands to himself. Now, here he was, doing his best to practically feel her up right in front of the students! Couldn’t have that, now could we, Severus? No, had to play the gallant knight again… well, gallant phantom this time. It still hurts though, doesn’t it? You had her, for the briefest, sweetest moment… then, Weasley! And you’re invisible to her again. She runs off to Harry’s arms… and in front of the prat’s fiancé no less… instead of running to you.
Snape growled at the voice that was ensconcing itself in his brain. This wasn’t that pesky, annoying, always-shows-up-when-something-good-is-going-to-happen conscience of his. No, this was a different voice, one he hadn’t heard before. It welled up inside him and felt as if it was going to bust out of him in a green rage. The voice laughed at him.
She cleared her conscience last week, Severus, that’s all. She doesn’t really care about you or your feelings. You saw her tonight. She may be over Weasley, but she was falling all over Potter right in front of his fiancé! Hermione Granger finally learned how to toy with men’s emotions, and she’s practicing on you, you great prat! You were always invisible to her, you are invisible to her, and you’re always going to be invisible to her. Get used to it.
Snape howled angrily as he slammed the side door to the Great Hall. He followed the labyrinth of passages up until he reached his rooms. Muttering the password and taking down the wards, he slipped inside, ripping the mask off his face as he went. He threw the mask on the table by the door, and made his way to the liquor cabinet in the corner. Nothing left to do but get drunk over the woman, he thought as he poured himself a healthy tumbler of Ogden’s Old Firewhiskey. Taking the bottle with him, Snape plopped down on his sofa and began to drink himself into oblivion.
A/N: It’s not exactly the way I wanted but this is how it came out. I may go back later and rearrange some things. I’ll let you know if I do. If you’re having a hard time seeing Snape and Hermione’s costumes based on my descriptions, leave me a note and I\'ll post the links. And here is the link to the lyrics that inspired this chapter. It’s a deviation from the Phantom theme; this is a Clay Aiken song. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/clayaiken/invisible.html
You Are Not Alone by ladysnarky