Chapter 11: Memories
“Oi, Hermione! Over here!”
Hermione turned towards Harry’s voice and smiled when she detected him standing in the middle of the Great Hall. It was not surprising that she had missed him with so many people present today. It seemed that the entire wizarding world got wind of today’s Memorial.
As she unhurriedly made her way towards her best friend, she noted that his hand was firmly entwined with Ginny’s and both individuals practically shone in the presence of each other. Hermione was openly pleased that Harry decided to continue dating Ginny despite the threat and gloom that Voldemort’s name seemed to veil upon everything nowadays.
Their stubbornness in continuing to live normally was by itself a silent sign that there remained people who chose not to surrender to the Dark Lord’s power.
But even then, Hermione did not miss an echo of sadness hiding just beyond the surface of Harry’s eyes. Probably better than anyone, her best friend knew that the war was unstoppable. Today’s event only came as a reminder that, while fighting towards peace and freedom, more than one life will be fated to depart behind the veil of the unknown.
Ginny warmly smiled at Hermione when she finally came to stand in front of them.
“I was starting to worry that you found something else to entertain you in the dungeons,” Ginny said cheekily. Her meaning was not lost on the other two and it served to somewhat lighten the tense and gloomy atmosphere. The wink that she gave Hermione was pointedly ignored but Hermione was glad that Ginny succeeded to drive her unhappy thoughts away for some time.
“You look lovely, Hermione,” stated Harry giving her an appraising eye, somewhat losing the saddened spark for a moment.
His appreciation however, did not go unnoticed and earned him a forceful nudge in the ribs.
Hermione only dramatically rolled her eyes but could not suppress a smile at witnessing such an exchange between the pair. She doubted that they even realized that they behaved as a couple long married.
Leisurely looking around her, Hermione’s eyes fell upon the teachers table. Only now, she saw the changes made for the occasion. The usually plain wooden table was now draped with purple linen that brushed the floor. The table was unoccupied and only the grand chair that traditionally was reserved for a Headmaster or Headmistress of Hogwarts stood in the middle. The chair by itself appeared to be a tribute to the former Headmaster, a place reserved for his kindred spirit that might or might not attend today’s Memorial.
The young witch’s eyes were instantly caught by an immense shape behind the head table that appeared to be not far from reaching the ceiling. Hermione was instantly mystified by its nature, especially after seeing the purple drape that was thrown over it.
Looking around herself again Hermione realized that practically everything was purposefully coloured with various shades of purple.
Professor Dumbledore’s favourite colour.
Her eyes then traveled around the length of the room noting further changes done to its interior. The usual four long tables had disappeared and instead more than thirty round tables occupied the Hall. The settings were very familiar to the ones arranged for the Yule Ball three years ago and even a space was cleared in the middle, presumably reserved for the upcoming dancing event.
Professor McGonagall, who climbed up onto the platform set in front of the head table, suddenly caught the young witch’s attention. As she straightened up, all conversations quickly faded away, leaving the Hall silent except for an occasional rustling of cloaks.
“Dear witches and wizards, I am deeply touched that so many of you decided to grace today’s occasion with your presence,” began Professor McGonagall. Even without any magic, her voice as always easily carried to all corners of the vast room. However, today it lacked its sternness.
“I will not go into a detailed description of who Albus Dumbledore was,” continued the Headmistress, managing to look at everyone at the same time, “for there is probably not one among you who haven’t experienced Professor Dumbledore’s kindness yourself at some point in your life. If there is one thing Albus Dumbledore has to be remembered by, it is by his love. Love that he unselfishly gave to everyone around him, whether they deserved it or not.”
At the end of her last sentence, the Headmistress’ voice suspiciously broke but she kept her eyes firmly upon the faces of the people around her. Whether she did not notice or tried to ignore the moisture starting to build in her own eyes, Hermione did not know.
“From the day he was born and till the moment he died, Albus Dumbledore never ceased to surprise the people around him. Whether in sickness or in health, a person could always rely on his support, giving himself fully to the purpose that served everyone. Rarely concerned over his own health, he worked hard for the good of others around him,” here Professor McGonagall sounded on the verge of choking and was forced to take a deep breath before she could continue, “and it is his concern for the well being of others that fated his diminishment from this world.”
Even from the distance, Hermione saw how the first tear fell from Professor McGonagall’s eyes. The first drop of moisture was quickly followed by others but the Headmistress stubbornly ignored them as she managed to finish in a loud voice which she managed to control enough to only let it shake slightly;
“But having the honour to have known him for countless years, I am entitled to state with surety that wherever he is now, Albus would never have wanted those close to him to grieve at his departure. The memories we dwell on should be those full of light remembrances instead of the darkness of his loss.”
With silent tears creating countless streams down her age-wrinkled face she turned sideways and gazed at the draped form levitating behind the Head table.
“Therefore, it is my duty as the new Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” McGonagall continued, gravely bringing her hand to indicate the levitating form, “to present this to the school as a constant reminder of one of the greatest wizards that has ever lived.”
As if following her wandless command, the drape flowingly dropped to the stone floor revealing what lay beyond it.
Gasps and mutterings broke among all present in the Hall and Hermione stood gazing in awe at what lay before her eyes.
The first thing her mind saw was gold. However, unlike the colour of the cold metal, the golden colours in front of her shone with their purity.
As Hermione collected her wits, she finally saw what the tribute to Dumbledore’s memory truly was.
A phoenix. The mystic bird captured on the verge of taking flight.
In all her life, Hermione would never have thought that a thing of such beauty and grace could be created, magic or not. The finely detailed feathers of the bird shone with every shade of yellow possible, randomly spoiled by a tinge of reds. Its great wide wings stretched through the entire head table’s length while its bottomless eyes gazed longingly into the ceiling, towards the sky. The phoenix’ open beak was probably longer than Hermione was tall, but she would not have been surprised if the golden statue started its heavenly song.
Until now, Fawkes\' singing remained the most beautiful thing Hermione has ever heard.
In the talons of the great bird, it gripped a great silver sword. The young witch thought that it was a perfect imitation of Godric Gryffindor’s sword, until she read the letters inscribed upon the mirroring surface of the blade;
She did not realize she was crying until a clumsy hand brushed a single tear away from her cheek.
Hermione knew that movement all too well and against all hope lifted her eyes. She came face to face with the lopsided smile of Ronald Weasley.
“Shh...” he made a soothing noise catching another tear. “You know that I hate watching the school’s best girl crying. It makes me uneasy to see one of the strongest people I have ever met reduced to such a state.”
His gentle smile stayed but Hermione did not miss a look of uncertainty in his eyes. He seemed to expect her to push him away any moment and stilled his body for the inevitable.
It was more than Hermione could take. With a wail, she threw herself around Ron’s neck. He was so flabberstruck that for a few minutes he just kept petting her awkwardly on her back. Nevertheless, his body visibly lost its stiffness.
“I am so sorry, Hermione,” he murmured into her tangle of curls. “I never should have lashed out at you like that. I guess Percy was right telling everyone that his sorry excuse of a brother could be regarded as an exceptional person if you consider my ability to function daily without a brain.”
Hermione could not help herself but snort into Ron’s neck. Percy might have possessed numerous faults but he was rarely wrong when it concerned his youngest brother.
Ron took a strangled breath.
“I\'m so, so sorry...It\'s just...” Hermione stopped the red haired boy with her fingers on his lips.
“Don\'t bother explaining, Ron. You never possessed much talent in excuses and I doubt that has changed,” she said. Ron goofily grinned.
“Well, I wouldn\'t have been Ron Weasley then.”
They stood somewhat awkwardly staring at each other for some time before Ron soundly cleared his throat.
“Anyway...So...Where is Sn- I mean Professor Snape now?” he asked, suddenly finding the floor underneath his feet quiet fascinating.
“No idea. I guess he is around somewhere. As a Deputy he is expected to attend the Memorial, whether he wants to or not,” shrugged Hermione. She tried to act casual but it was a rather difficult task considering what had happened the last time she had seen ... her husband.
Silence settled again between them. Hermione’s brain rushed to find a way in breaking it but Ron was quicker.
“Look...” he began, fixing his eyes somewhere around Hermione’s ear, “I know that I have acted like a bloody bastard towards you lately. It’s just...you couldn’t have expected me to just accept the flaming Bat of the Dungeons as your husband! It took me some time to realize that no matter what bloody things pushed you to accept this plan, in the end you didn’t really have any choice in the matter. You...I mean, I...fine! With the brain like yours, you must have realized long ago that I have taken a fancy to you. Not as in a friend but as in a...female.”
By the end, Ron’s ears were as bright as the setting sun, badly clashing with his hair. During his speech, he did not draw breath once and now he was panting with the exertion.
In fear that Hermione would open her mouth, Ron took another deep breath and finished:
“That does not mean. however, that I am some lovesick fool who doesn’t know when his attention is unwanted. Perhaps I will never get over you fully, Hermione, but I want you to know that no matter what happens from now on, I will always stay your best friend.”
His eyes were still not meeting Hermione’s when she hugged him.
“Oh, Ron,” came her muffled voice from his robes, “I may never fall in love with you, but I will always love you like a brother.”
A rare smile of sadness appeared upon Ron’s face as he tightly hugged the young woman back.
“I know, ’Mione...I know.”
Neither of them knew how much time they would have stayed like that, two peaceful friends at last reunited in an embrace, when someone beside them pointedly cleared their throat.
Harry and Ginny stood in front of them, with their hands still entwined. Both of them wore broad smiles.
“Well, well...” drawled Ginny sweetly, “I have to say that it is nice to see my brother finally proving that he has something filling his skull.”
Ron\'s ears rapidly turned red again.
“And it is nice to see that my little sister is becoming more like Percy with every passing day.”
Before the situation could get out of hand, Harry pressed Ginny against him. The redhead had enough time only to utter a surprised squeak, before she was firmly silenced by his lips. Ginny\'s lame protests quickly became silent moans as she threw her slender hands around her boyfriend’s neck.
Ron, on the other hand, looked like he would be sick any moment.
“Just ignore them, Ron,” whispered Hermione.
“Ignore them?! That’s my bloody sister he is kissing in front of me!”
“She may be your sibling, Ronnie, but she is also a young woman who has a life of her own!” she fired back.
“But that does not mean she has to flaunt the details of her love life in front of the entire flaming Wizarding world! And don’t call me ‘Ronnie’!”
Ignoring Ron’s scandalized look, Hermione looked around herself. Nearly all of the people present were already seated behind the tables. The exceptions were a bunch of wizards and witches who were leisurely talking among each other. Nevertheless, random individuals from both groups did not make it a secret they were watching either the still passionately kissing pair or the arguing one.
“Come on, Ron,” hissed Hermione, dragging her friend towards the closest table from which Seamus Finnegan was enthusiastically waving to them.
On their way, Ron managed to snatch his flushed sister in addition to the glued Harry Potter.
As they positioned themselves among their classmates, Hermione prayed that nothing entertaining would come her way again this evening. Casting a glance towards the dance space however, she found herself wearing something that suspiciously felt like a smirk.
Perhaps the best entertainment was only about to come.
By some of stroke of fate, Professor Severus Snape managed to enter the Great Hall the same moment that the band began to play their first waltz.
Hermione Snape however, was not in a hurry. Like a hawk, she watched her husband join Professor McGonagall’s table. On his way towards it however, he did not forget to scowl at everything that his black eyes could land upon.
Almost against her will, Hermione’s own eyes swept across his body. He was still wearing his new attire, except now not one tinge of colour spoiled the darkness of his clothes. Even the snakes on both of his sleeves were now black, marking their visible presence solely by their leathery texture. His infamous cloak, however, was forever present and only drew eyes to his imposing figure.
Whether he noticed the slack jaws of the witches he passed, Hermione did not know, but his scowl did not waver one bit. Indeed, it seemed only to deepen and by the time he joined the Headmistress, her husband’s glare would have made Satan weep.
For some reason, his reaction only seemed to cheer her up.
The only thing left now was to start putting her plan into action.
In a nervous gesture, Hermione’s hand checked the state of her hair. She had spent the whole bloody evening in front of the blasted mirror, casting any known spells upon her untamable curls. In the end, she decided to leave her hair untied, allowing her hair into countless heavy ringlets that fell freely across her half-bare shoulders. The rest of her attire took as much time, finally choosing a dress that hugged her hips and bodice tightly, leaving the silky material to freely fall down her legs. Even she couldn\'t deny the mesmerizing movement of the dress as it swirled around her legs every time she moved.
Hermione sincerely hoped that her creamy dress robes would pass the test.
Judging by Seamus’ shining eyes, she had a feeling they already had.
On a second thought, Hermione looked at the youth on her left more closely. At eighteen, her fellow Gryffindor had managed to grow into a tall man. While he could not have been classified as gorgeous, Seamus turned into a rather roguishly handsome young man. With his neat chestnut hair and forever mysteriously shining eyes, Hermione knew him to be the breaker of a few girls’ hearts.
Perfect, thought Hermione.
“Seamus,” she sweetly enquired, “do you dance?”
Her friend looked surprise for a moment before a grin almost split his face in two.
“Of course, will you mind checking it for yourself, Hermione?”
“Not at all. I have to say, it will be my pleasure to do so.”
Hermione accepted Seamus’ gracious arm as they made their way to the dance floor. However, not before she noticed all six eyes of the dumbstruck faces of her friends rapidly blinking at her, Harry and Ron looking the most perplexed of all.
The witch grinned to herself. She could have bet that they never thought to live to see the day when the famous Know-It-All would ask a guy for a dance.
She wondered what would have become of them, if they knew that she began taking professional dance lessons since the Yule Ball over three years ago.
Well, thought Hermione somewhat evilly, they will find out about it soon enough.
“So, Professor Snape, how does it feel to be at last free from You-Know-Who?”
The rest of the people present listened carefully to the conversation, for the question the Minister of Magic had dared to voice aloud was the same one that was on everyone’s mind.
Severus directed his sneer at the wizard on the opposite side of the round table. Without any doubt, Cornelius Fudge was a wizard with as much sense as a cauldron, but his successor was in the process of proving that the stupidity was not spared on him either.
“I am not a free man until Voldemort has perished, spiritually as well as physically.”
All the occupants of the table winced as one at the name. Severus found himself scowling again. The mere idea that they regarded it as blasphemy was a disgrace. If a wizard got so frightened by the name alone, he did not want to know what would happen to them when they will at last come face to face with the Lord of their nightmares.
And those people were the ones who were supposed to lead the Wizarding world to war.
“What do you mean by ‘not a free man’?” forcefully demanded the Minister. “Are we supposed to understand that any moment now, if He-Who-Is-Not-Supposed-To-Be-Named would wish it, he could summon you to him?”
The older wizard did not try to disguise his dislike for Severus. When it recently became known that the once-thought murderer was actually a spy for the Order, it did not soften the Minister’s heart one bit. Severus did not know what drove the former Auror but he more than suspected that if he had his own way, at that moment Severus would have been spending his evening in Azkaban instead of the Great Hall.
Now Severus just suppressed the urge to roll his eyes.
“No, sir. I regard myself remarkably lucky to have been considered to be already a dead man by the Dark Lord while still his guest.” His voice dripped with sarcasm. “As a result, your ‘You-Know-Who’ had unwisely decided to spare himself the fate of sensing my coming death and removed the link between us.”
“What link?” asked some Ministry witch, almost against her will.
Severus turned to look her directly in the eye.
“The Dark Mark.”
The middle-aged woman turned so white that McGonagall hastily thrust a goblet of water into her hands.
That did not stop her however, from giving the DADA Professor a dirty look.
Severus, as always, ignored her.
“But that’s impossible! Have any of you ever heard of a way to get rid of the most tainted mark made by the Dark Arts? I personally once got a chance to examine the Dark Mark of one of the dead You-Know-Who followers whom I have-“drawled on the Minister gathering all of the attention upon his persona.
But Severus was not listening anymore. He had spent only a few minutes in that company and it was already giving him a skull-splitting headache. Plastering on an appropriate scowl, he proceeded watching the other occupants of the room instead. The flawless melody of the waltz floated around the Hall, provoking a few couples to step onto the dance floor. Robes bellowed around the dancing figures, especially one young woman’s in the company of Seamus Finnegan. Her heavy curls danced a mesmerizing dance of their own, following every movement she...
Suddenly all thought of a headache and Dark Marks flew out of Severus’ mind. Unblinkingly he watched his wife dancing with another man, allowing him to put his hand onto her slender waist, making her laugh.
“...so I think it is the best and wisest way we can finally bring down You-Kno---, Professor Snape, what are you doing?”
Severus, however, did not hear the Minister anymore. Slowly, as if in a trance, he stood up. Not bothering to draw out his chair beforehand, it fell with a loud thud as Severus straightened to his full height.
With his obsidian eyes not once leaving the dancing couple, the Professor did not know he was walking until he found himself passing the numerous tables. He was unaware of the glances thrown after him, neither the whispers following his bellowing cloak.
The rational part of his mind kept repeating that he was doing this because the former Miss Granger was breaking the rules of their marriage, that the foolish girl was shattering the illusion of a happy couple.
However, there was something deeper; sincere that did not cease its whispering.
Hermione Snape...His wife...The woman he- what- respected? Liked...Loved? The same woman was dancing with another male, shamelessly flirting with the young man, her merry laughter ringing mockingly in his ears.
Whatever he felt towards her, she had no right to do what she was doing now.
Nevertheless, Severus Snape stubbornly refused to acknowledge the answer to his unvoiced question even while his heart already accepted it.
“...and imagine my surprise when I found two human-sized canaries, one was rather chubby while the other had its yellow feathers standing in all different directions, sleeping peacefully in Neville\'s and Harry\'s beds!”
Hermione’s step did not falter once during Seamus’ entertainment but her self-control was rapidly thinning. Fortunately, the waltz ended as Seamus finished his own colourful story.
As soon as the music died down, Hermione almost bent in two as her stomach muscles cramped under her laughter. The mere image of the infamous Neville Longbottom disguised as a canary was enough to bring a saint rolling in laughter.
When she at last straightened, Hermione found herself standing very close to Seamus. Tears of mirth stood in her brown eyes as she looked into his own laughing ones.
He made a playful bow towards her.
“I cannot express in words how happy it makes me to have made you laugh so much, Mrs. Snape,” proclaimed Seamus, gallantly kissing her hand. Hermione involuntary blushed.
“It is nice of you to still remember, Mr. Finnegan, that she is married.”
Seamus froze with Hermione’s hand still in his grasp.
Slowly, as if in a dream, she turned towards the sneering voice.
Professor Snape stood in front of them in all of his dark glory. Up close, Hermione was yet again reminded how tall the wizard was, and what an aura of strength seemed to flow from him in waves.
However, as her gaze locked with his, Hermione found herself mistaken. The unseeing tidal waves coming from him now did not show his magical ability. It was anger. An emotion so raw, that she felt the bare flesh of her shoulders cover in goose bumps as those waves cascaded over her.
Inwardly she wondered if she had truly gone too far.
Nevertheless, marriage or not, Hermione would not have been the person she was now without her unyielding spirit. Hell would freeze over twice, before she would allow Professor Severus Snape to intimidate her.
With new vigour that she didn’t even expect from herself, Hermione entwined her hand with Seamus’ and challengingly looked directly into Snape’s eyes.
“Oh, Professor Snape. I hadn’t noticed you here before. As you see, Seamus and I decided to have a little dance together. It is so rare to find company you truly enjoy, so I count myself pretty lucky that I have found such an agreeable partner all to myself,” said she lightly and lovingly patted her friend’s palm for emphasis.
Snape’s eyes seemed to grow darker with her every word. Seamus on the contrast was growing paler.
When the young wizard did not make one sound and stayed as stiff as a log underneath her touch, Hermione poked him in the ribs.
“Don’t you agree with me, Sammie?”
The caressing name seemed to have set the Professor off his emotional hook.
“Mr. Finnegan. Get. Your. Arse. Away. From. Me. Now.”
Without needing further encouragement, Seamus practically bolted away, leaving a fuming Hermione alone with Snape.
“Who do you think you are to speak in such a disgraceful manner to my friend?” hissed back Hermione, making a deliberate step towards her blasted husband.
“I am your Professor, as well as his. And I can speak in any bloody way I wish!”
The two of them were becoming so immersed in each other that they were oblivious to the glances that they were attracting.
“Do not dare to swear in my presence, Professor Snape! I may still be your student but I am also your wife!”
“Really?” Snape eyed her low neckline that showed more than a hint of cleavage. “I am starting to think that our wedding ceremony was but a dream, after watching you so shamelessly flaunting yourself in front of the first stag you could find.”
Forgetting that her ultimate goal was to provoke jealousy from the Bat of the Dungeons, Hermione felt her nerve snapping in outrage to his words.
“You have no right to insult me in that manner, Snape! I do not ‘flaunt’ myself in front of any males. What is more, if I want to dance with a guy who I find attractive, it is my business and no one else’s. Especially yours!”
With a speed of a striking snake, Snape’s hand reached out and winded itself around Hermione’s waist. The young witch instinctively started to wriggle out from his hands but found that she could barely move. Her waist was all but locked in iron clutches.
“So, you want to dance, do you?” hissed Snape harshly into her ear. “I will show you how to dance.”
And as if on queue, the enticing sound of tango filled the Great Hall.
Hermione’s head snapped up and she locked gazes with Snape. He found himself smiling inwardly at her expression. Whatever the young woman anticipated, it most probably was not this.
Slowly, deliberately, his left hand detached itself from her slender waist and snaked its way towards her naked shoulder blade. At the same time he brought his dark body almost flush against hers, rising one of his eyebrows in a mocking enquiry, daring her to fight him.
When, however, she did not make a move, Snape’s gaze darkened again and made the first step. Their dance had begun.
Hermione’s trained body instinctively made the steps as her mind absently listened to the passionate music. All of her concentration however, went wholly to the man holding her in his arms.
Everything was forgotten, the Memorial, school, even the sense of where she was. Her one and only focus point remained Professor Snape, the already former Greasy Git... her husband. His black eyes did not stray from her face once, even as he flawlessly guided Hermione along the floor.
From her knowledge, Hermione was more than aware that a tango could only be achieved if both partners possessed a great amount of passion within their hearts. The dance’s goal was to release that raw feeling into the open. She herself never had problems in that area. Perhaps that was why she was staring so wide-eyed at the man in front of her.
Severus Snape was counted many things, but passionate definitely was not one of them.
By the deadpan look that Snape was giving her, Hermione could only guess what he was thinking. Her gaze almost involuntary was drawn down, as she looked at his half parted lips. Whatever he was thinking, Severus Snape did not remain cold wherever his feelings lay.
As if reading her mind he suddenly pressed her body boldly against his, bringing them flush against each other. They were the perfect image of opposites, Snape with all of his darkness and Hermione with her snowy dress robes. Now that contradiction flowed into one, dark and light, wisdom and youth, ice and fire.
Dangerous, thrilling, forbidden, enticing.
Tango might have been passionate, but not that much.
A solo violin was coming to one of its numerous climaxes and the wizards’ reaction was immediate. Abruptly stopping in his tracks, Snape switched the positions of his hands. Instead of bringing his left hand to her shoulder, he snaked it firmly around her thigh.
He locked his unblinking gaze firmly with hers as he started to lift her leg. With an agonizing slowness, he hooked it around his own hip. The position brought her body unbelievably close to the places that Hermione did not even dare to think about. But there was no other place for rational thought as her centre encountered his hardness, apparent even through the tight material of his breeches. His hand felt far from gentle as he dug his fingers into the soft flesh of her thigh and Hermione found herself biting her lower lip for control. The last thing she needed was to moan aloud.
Snape however, was not a stupid man. Fixing his dark gaze now on her lips as his trademark smirk reappeared upon his face, he began to move again.
This time he stepped backwards in time with the violin, dragging Hermione by her leg. Switching into an automatic mode, her body’s muscles relaxed, leaving her dance partner to administrate that particular part of the dance. With her right leg firmly in Snape’s grasp, her other leg trailed behind her. Any other people would have looked ridiculous, but not when two skilled dancers came together.
Hermione did not know how much distance Snape managed to cover before he stopped. Without bringing her right leg from his grasp, he swung their bodies around. Somewhere at the back of her mind, she heard the music coming to its closing end. Following an instinct, her spine bowed under the guiding hand upon the small of her back, letting her body spill away from the one in front of her.
The violin went dead, but its departing melody still vibrated in the air.
Hermione did not know for how much time the two of them stayed like that, with her arched back as far as she could go and he standing straight with her lifted leg still in his firm grasp.
His hand slowly lifted her to an upright position, bringing their faces so close that their noses almost touched. There was no need for words as Hermione looked deep into the bottomless midnight eyes of the man in front of her.
The sudden applause and whistling made both Hermione and Snape jump nearly a foot above the ground.
Her eyes were going as wide as they could go when she looked around herself.
The two of them were so absorbed in the dance that neither of them noticed when they suddenly became the only pair dancing in the Great Hall. An enormous circle was created around them with most of the occupants of the Hall standing up and observing the show. Now every one of them was applauding, even as more than one slack-jawed witch and wizard stared at the couple.
Snape visibly stiffened under Hermione’s touch. Without another word or glance, he left her standing in the middle of the dance floor as he made his way towards the exit.
Her cheeks flamed by embarrassment and something else, Hermione made her own way rapidly to her friends.
The fact that Ron looked like he would faint any second did not cheer her up in the slightest.
Stupid, imbecilic, pedophile son of a pig!
Severus did not know what had gotten into him. First the absurd plan and now the bloody dance! Whatever was happening to him, he was seriously considering flooing to St. Mungo’s the first thing in the morning and demand a check-up.
He was about to cross the threshold of the Great Hall when someone appeared in front of him. Lifting his eyes off the floor in annoyance, he found the Headmistress blocking his path.
“What do you want, Minerva?” he growled.
Not looking intimidated in the least by Severus’ less than polite tone she innocently replied;
“Oh, nothing really.”
The bloody twinkle in her eyes began to unnerve Severus in earnest.
“Spill it out,” he hissed through tightly clenched teeth.
Professor McGonagall sighed dramatically.
“Well, I just wanted to tell you that no matter what Hermione’s intentions were, they have worked to the best.”
The wizard frowned in confusion.
“What are you blabbering about?” he demanded.
“Nothing really. The only thing I could say for sure is that after tonight’s performance, there is not one member of the wizarding world who will have any doubt about the nature of the relationship between yourself and your wife.”
Much to his horror Severus felt something akin to heat rise on his cheeks.
“I have no idea what are you talking about, Minerva. There is nothing but a business agreement between us. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go and indulge myself in something stronger than pumpkin juice,” he muttered darkly and bolted around the Headmistress before she would dare to interrogate him further.
“Severus, Severus,” muttered the Headmistress sadly to herself, watching the departing Professor. “If only you realized that you have created the most memorable service to Dumbledore that he could have ever wished for.”
Sweet Surrender by witch