Title: The Snow Has Other Plans
Team: Death Eaters
Challenge: Christmas At Hogwarts
Length 8 X 100
Summary: Severus doesn’t approach Christmas any differently than in years past, but that was before Hermione…
A/N: Just a little bit of Christmas schmaltz. I hope all my friends have an amazing Christmas, and that you receive everything you truly wish for.
If Christmas had a point, Severus had long forgotten it, other than another excuse for people to be happy while he was miserable. If it carried any higher or nobler purpose, it had been lost on him years ago.
It only served to remind him that childhood was supposed to be a gentle, indulgent time. Had he ever been gently indulged? He didn’t think so. Christmas set him apart, and brought into stark relief the differences of those who had, and those who took away.
He avoided Christmas like Scrooge. Since he also hated self-pity, he called it ‘being realistic’.
Hermione had long stopped believing in hell as anything more than a man-made construct, but if it did exist, she hoped that Severus’ parents had front row seats. Not just for the cruelty, though there appeared to have been a fair amount of that, but for the everyday, casual heartlessness one finds in the household of indifferently abusive parents.
She didn’t have to be told Severus had a hard time in what passed for his childhood; it was in his face, the sometimes startled look in his eyes when he was too tired to wear his aloof masque of pretense.
That first Christmas, it snowed at Hogwarts. Severus stomped through the drafty courtyard, scattering groups of students like startled snowbirds, and they avoided him to his heart’s content. Only the newly-hired Professor Hermione Granger seemed immune to his glower and grumble.
From the moment she was introduced as Hogwarts’ newest Transfiguration professor, she had treated him as an equal, even going so far as to engage him in conversation during the Halloween feast.
Later, he could only attribute it to her smile and Hogwarts’ famous Treacle Tart. He had surprised them both by responding. It was his own fault, really.
He was a solitary soul, quieter since the war, yet still able to cut the tongue out of a student at twenty paces if properly provoked. In other words, not nearly as much as when she was his student. It seemed to take a lot more to get his dander up; most days his classes seemed incapable of doing little more than giving it a nudge with a wet flannel.
By Christmas, Severus was on Hermione’s mind so often she caught herself writing his name on spare edges of parchment, usually in her best calligraphy with the most elaborate embellishments.
To those who knew them well, it was like watching two people dancing to the same tune while standing in two different rooms. Minerva had seen enough of Albus’ meddling not to attempt any matchmaking. Hermione would dive for cover, Severus would beat a hasty, snarling retreat into his laboratory and not be seen for days.
Minerva was a big believer in sitting back and allowing things to happen in their own time. Best to just let them blunder into one another’s arms. Besides, she could always jump in if they threatened to make a complete dog’s dinner of it.
Snow had fallen since dawn. The ghosts sang their eerily haunting carols, and the house-elves scurried around in their frantic attempt to outdo the previous Christmas Eve’s decorations. Fairy lights and the soft, mystical magic of the festive season cast a rosy, gauzy glow on the world.
Severus found her in the courtyard, gazing out into the falling snow, a wreath of soft, glowing light around her hair. There was a wistful melancholy in her face, and awash in the fairy magic, Hermione Granger was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
That was when he knew. He knew.
The next morning Christmas greeted him with bright sunlight glittering on the massive snowdrifts piled against the castle. Severus paused, and truly looked around him. The world looked different, somehow, cleaner, new.
He spent the day in quiet contemplation. Not his usual Christmas sulk; far from it. He seemed to be trembling, on the edge of bursting with something he had never truly known before.
That night, after the faculty had opened gifts and retired, he approached her.
“I haven’t given you my gift yet, Hermione,” he began, making a poor show of hiding his nerves.
She watched him carefully.
“There’s only one thing I want from you, Severus Snape,” she said, and the flush of her cheeks told him just how much those words had cost her to say.
He closed his eyes, and the soft magic of the moment seeped into his being, his soul, like cool water to parched earth. “It is old and a bit shabby, and I can’t say it’s much of a bargain.”
She surprised him by putting her arms around his neck, and touching her lips to his. “My mum says the best gifts are the ones you want someone to give you.”