elaborationlove (elaborationlove) wrote in scarlet_serpent,
elaborationlove
elaborationlove
scarlet_serpent

Title: The Dress and the Key
Author: elaborationlove
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Severus/Hermione
Rating: PG
Warnings: None.
Summary: The package was centered on her bed by the time she arrived back from the Great Hall.
Author's Notes: First S/H
Beta Credit: None.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Word Count: 3,318



The package was centered on her bed by the time she arrived back from the Great Hall. She ran her finger down the brown-paper-bag which held the mysterious gift and then sat next to it on her bed. It was addressed to her, in fine, flawless handwriting. The corner of the package lacked a return address, which caused Hermione to hesitate in opening the package. She poked it, lifted it, squeezed it all in attempt to figure out what could be inside without actually opening it to avoid harm and injury.

She turned the soft, crinkling package over and saw that tape was holding it together. A note was attached to the meeting of the ends of the wrapping. The small, eight-by-four inch paper was folded in half, concealing the message inside. Hermione lifted the top of it.

Miss Granger,

It is my sincere wish you wear this to the upcoming ball, celebrating the one-year anniversary of the end of the war. I shall see you there.


It was not signed. Hermione pushed her hair out of her face and sighed. Perhaps a student had found her fighting admirable and had developed a likeness for her during the war. She hadn’t been the only one to return to school when the fighting had finished. All of the students who had fought had at least a year left of education, though it was not mandatory for them to return. The ministry had said they were welcome to come back any time to complete their education. Some had chosen to take some time to recoup themselves, the stress of school too much for their fragile emotions. Determined, Hermione opted to return to school as had many others, though she hadn’t expected so many.

Hermione broke the tape’s seal with her nail. The paper unfolded, slightly and she slid what felt like silk out of the package. She unfurled the fabric and saw that the contents on which she had been debating on was a yellow, silk dress. The skirt of it was layered in ruffles that were short in the front and got long, diagonally, in the back. The top had a low cut neckline, with a collar, similar to the long, smooth ruffles on the skirt, waving and free.

She gasped as she ran her hand over it, shocked at its softness.

-

“Miss Granger, if I could have a word.”

Hermione looked up from packing her things. She nodded slowly with her mouth parted, and then continued packing up as the rest of the class left. The quill she had been using slipped into the side of her bag and she closed the clasp, securing her belongings.

“Yes, Professor?”

“I feel we’ve known each other long enough that you may call me Severus.”

“Then I should return the favor and ask you call me Hermione.”

He nodded and looked down, placing his hand on the corner of his desk.

“You wanted to speak with me?” she prompted.

“Yes; I trust you received the package I sent you?”

She bit her lip. “The dress?”

He looked up at her. “Yes, of course.”

Hermione straightened herself. “I—yes, I did. But…I don’t understand.”

“Nor do I. I just wanted to be sure it made it to your quarters.”

“I’d hardly call them quarters.”

He shrugged. Seeing as how he had not dismissed her, she took his distraction to take a moment to look on his desk. She had never observed the trinkets and such that it held and she was curious to see a picture frame, face down, glass shattered around the edges. She lifted it delicately and observed the black and white photo.

“Please, Miss Granger—“

“Is this you?” she asked, ignoring his slip of tongue.

He nodded. “Yes, but I ask, please—“

“Wait, I just…” she looked up at him and then back at the picture, comparing the two. “You were a very attractive young man,” she commented.

“Time has not been kind.”

Hermione gazed towards the breathing Severus again. She placed the picture down, standing as it should have been and then lifted her finger tips to his jaw. He flinched as flesh met flesh and took a sharp intake of air.

“Why do you say that?” she asked dreamily.

“If I had ever been attractive, as you suggested, I certainly am not any more.”

She took a slow step closer to him, their bodies nearly touching. Her fingers trailed towards his lips.

“M-m-miss-miss Granger…”

“Hermione,” she reminded, tilting her head.

“Erm, yes. Yes. You are very pretty, however, I feel this may be inappropriate,” he finished nervously.

“Severus,” she said, her voice getting lower, “whatever caused you to be so…so…”

“Self-depreciating?”

“Yes.”

“I shall not entertain you with my sob story, Granger, despite how much you may like to hear it.”

She smirked, slightly, understanding. Her affections were new to him. He had no notion of how to act with them and therefore offered all he could manage—hostility and disbelief. Somehow she was sure that he did feel something like attraction towards her, however, or else he would not be so fidgety and restless.

Hermione took a lock of his hair between her fingers and twirled it. Severus closed his eyes, eager to not show a reaction to her touch.

“I could love you, you know.”

“You’d be the first.”

She closed her eyes slowly and opened them again as she kissed his cheek. His eyes fluttered shut.

“Hermione—“

“Shhh.”

His hands shook as he reached to touch her face. She guided them with her own and caressed him, reassuringly. As he became more comfortable in their stance, Hermione allowed him to take charge. She dipped her head, her cheeks tingling with anticipation. A shiver shot up the man’s spine when she gasped at his touch to her neck. He could feel her pulse racing like thestrals. His pulse shot up at the recognition.

“Come.”

Severus grabbed Hermione’s hand and led her to the back of the room where there was a door. She had never noticed it before and was surprised when it opened to reveal a long, dark, stone hallway, complete with torches on the wall. The long walk was interrupted by his turning back to see her, taking care to be sure that she was not afraid. A few times, he pushed her against a wall and came very close to kissing her but decided better of it and continued on the way.

When they arrived at his room, Severus promptly shut the door and turned back to the girl. He trailed the back of his hand against her collarbone, shifting his eyes between hers and his hand. His adam’s apple rose slightly as he swallowed before tilting his head and slowly parting his mouth against hers. As he kissed her, he fingered the heavy pendant that hung from her necklace. It was a key. He pulled away and rested his cheek against hers, and whispered into her ear, “What is this?”

“I can’t tell you,” she replied.

He suppressed a sigh and decided not to press on it any further. Perhaps he could ask her another time when he had gained more trust from her and she, from him.

Severus felt the girl’s small hands slid around him, resting on his back. His breath hitched and he spoke again, still softly, “I’ve never been surrounded by so much beauty.”

“Nor have I,” she said.

Severus pulled away from her. “I am not—“

“You are, Severus.” Hermione led him to the mirror which was opposite his bed. She stood behind him and wrapped her arms around his thin body. He noticed a new look about him, and with his features softened and his hands covering hers, he actually felt like perhaps he wasn’t quite as unattractive as he previously had believed.

“You’re beautiful, Sev,” she said, raising herself on her toes and kissing his ear lobe.

“Men are not beautiful,” he returned.

“They can be.”

Severus turned his gaze to the floor and then turned around in Hermione’s arms. The tips of his fingers brushed against her cheek.

“I think maybe the Sorting Hat was wrong in placing me in Slytherin.”

“Why is that?”

Severus backed Hermione up to his bed and laid her down, easily covering her body with his with snake-like ease. He kissed her neck and Hermione reached around him, locking her hands behind his neck. As he placed needy, passionate kisses along her skin, she returned with slow pecks. He lifted her slightly, wrapping his arms around her small frame, encasing her against him.

“Because,” he began to answer at last, biting lightly on her ear, “I’m finding myself wanting to touch a Gryffindor.”

Hermione separated him from her for a moment, and he supported himself on his hands, hovering straight above her. She dipped her head, her chin touching her upper chest. A kiss was placed on her lips as Severus tilted her head back up with his fingertips beneath her chin.

“Perhaps…” he began, releasing her waist from his grip and laying on the bed, beside her, “Perhaps you should stay here tonight, to avoid…suspicion…” Severus wrapped his arms around her tummy, and she snuggled her back closer to him. He was surprised at her forwardness at wanting to be so close. If he was more sure of what, exactly, they both wanted, he might have allowed himself to love her more fully and physically, that night. Instead, he satisfied himself with just having her near.

The lights in the room dimmed.

“I doubt anyone would care. I am of legal age, even if anything more had happened, which it didn’t,” she sighed afterward, tired from the day.

Severus leaned over and kissed her hair, wondering if his previous suggestion had only been a subconscious attempt at keeping her with him.

“Do you suppose you’ll go to the ball, then?” she asked.

“I did get the dress for you. It would be a shame not to see you in it.”

“Why did you do that, anyway?”

He smiled, though she couldn’t see it, embarrassed. “I saw it and, well…I couldn’t not get it. It was made for you.”

“That’s quite a compliment but I fear the dress may be too beautiful.”

Severus’ eyebrows furrowed. “What do you mean by that?”

“That I am not pretty enough to wear the dress. I appreciate the gesture, Severus, I really do, but…”

He turned her in his arms, quickly. She could see his eyes flicker in the dim light. “Are you mad, woman? You’re…you’re…there are no words.”

He was shocked to find that she had her own doubts about her image. How could she encourage him while having her own disappointments of her own image. With a sigh, he trailed the back of his fingers against her cheek. He’d make her know that she was beyond-words-beautiful if it killed him.

-

Hermione woke up early, no thanks to the sun which surely lay beyond the stone walls she was surrounded by. Would a few windows kill the man? She slid out of his grip and stretched, and then looked down to see him still asleep. It had been warm the night before and she could now see that he had taken off his black dress shirt. The shirt was so unlike him, but it suited him very well. Better than the dress robes he so often wore, even. She giggled at the thought that if he were to unbutton the top few, many of his female students would be likely to swoon.

Barely conscious, Severus groped for her hand. She offered her fingers to his touch and he grabbed them at the sense. With her other hand, Hermione reached out and touched the velvet curtain that would surround the bed, if closed. It was lined with a swirly, gold trim of rough ribbon.

She turned back to the man beside her and combed her fingers through his shiny hair. It wasn’t at all greasy, in fact, its shine was probably credited to good up keeping. As she continued to massage his head, Severus’ eyes fluttered open. He chanced a small smile, only for her.

“Hello,” he offered hoarsely.

“Hi.”

“Have you been awake long?”

“No.”

“Good.” Severus gathered her in his arms. “You slept in your day clothes. Perhaps I could offer something more comfortable?” he suggested.

She shrugged as he leaned over and picked up the black shirt from the floor. He started to hand it to her, then faltered.

“Er…I could…leave, if you like.”

He started to get up and swing his legs over the side of the bed but she grabbed his wrist.

“It’s fine. Here,” Hermione said, leading his hands to the buttons on her white shirt.

His hands shook and he felt like he ought to say something, but was blank. When he had finished undoing the trail of buttons, Severus slid the shirt off of her shoulders. He quickly slid his black shirt onto her and avoided looking her over too much. His shaking hands then made their way to her plaid skirt. He undid the button there and let it slip down her legs. The shirt was big on her, and the hem reached mid-thigh. Falling back to the bed again, he brought her down with her and held her protectively.

“Don’t go yet.”

She shook her head. “I won’t. But we’ll need to leave for breakfast soon.”

“I can make something,” he offered, kissing her head.

“It’s alright. I don’t mind going to the Hall.”

“I want to,” he insisted.

He pouted against her lips and then skimmed his tongue against her bottom lip. Hermione tucked his hair behind his ear.

“You’re so beautiful, Sev.”

He sighed, too tired to argue. She slid her hands around his back, his skin smooth and white.

“Would it be wrong to fall in love with you?” he asked carefully.

She shook her head slowly against his chest, her hand resting on his side a few inches beneath his shoulder. She kissed the area adjacent to her lips and sighed. With the tip of her finger, she traced the Dark Mark on his forearm.

“It’s kind of beautiful, despite its meaning,” she said softly. He nodded in agreement.

“It’ll disappear eventually, I think…now that he’s gone.”

“I wish we didn’t have to get up. Ever.”

“Hmmm.”

-

“Perhaps now that we’ve become confidents you’ll indulge me to the significance of the key you wear?”

“Not yet,” she said, as he spun her around. The yellow fabric spun out, showing off her now very pale legs.

“Perhaps we have spent too much time in the dark,” he said. “You no longer have a tan glow to your skin.”

“Do you find it unattractive?”

“Quite the contrary, however, I know how you love the sun. Perhaps I could chance a day in it, for you,” he smiled as he offered.

“Maybe.”

“You look amazing, love.”

“It’s the dress,” she assured him.

“Personally,” he said, moving close to her ear with a murmur of a voice, “I think you look far better without it.”

She hit his shoulder playfully.

“There are many men staring at you,” he mentioned. “I don’t like it. Don’t they know you’re—“

“What?”

“I just don’t want them looking at you.”

“Do I sense jealousy?”

Severus avoided her gaze and looked outside. “Come,” he demanded. He led her off the floor and to the balcony outside, for more reason than one. The minute they were outside he saw her shiver and offered to wrap his arms around her.

“Do you ever intend on marrying, Hermione?”

“I suppose if the right man asks.”

“And who might he be?”

She did not answer, opting to kiss him cryptically. It wasn’t clear if she meant that he was the man she spoke of or not. He held her close to him and nudged the side of her neck with his slightly crooked nose.

“Will you spend the night with me? I’ve missed you.”

She nodded against his broad chest.

“Dear gods, how did I ever manage to capture your affections?”

Hermione didn’t reply; Severus had not expected one.

“Shall we retire?”

Hermione nodded, too tired for words.

-

“You’ve always been so beautiful,” he said, watching her intently as they faced each other.

“Severus…I think maybe…”

“What?” he held her hands, encouraging her to go on.

“Well, I…”

“I’m tempted to say that I cannot read minds, however, I can. I’d rather hear you say whatever it is, though, so please do not leave me in agony any longer.”

“Never mind.”

He sighed. “Why? Indulge me.”

“No, but…If I had a baby…what would you…what would you do?”

He tilted his head into the pillow. “We haven’t even made love.”

“I know, I’m just…saying.”

He made a twist of his mouth which qualified for a grin. “I’d probably beg you to stay with me and let me take care of the both of you, despite my limited resources. I…”

Severus held her more tightly. “I think, perhaps, I have done something I shouldn’t have.”

She looked up to see him, prompting him to continue.

“I’ve fallen in love.”

Dreading that it had been someone else, tears slid down her cheeks.

“Have I said something wrong?”

“Who is it?” she asked softly, avoiding his eyes. She closed them tightly when she saw a smile tease his lips.

“Whoever do you think? It’s you, of course. You’ve been the object of my affections since…oh. You really thought it was another?” He felt a bit guilty for not making it more clear and causing her pain. “How could I ever love another after all the joy and compassion you have brought me?” Severus nuzzled her hair, uncharacteristically. She giggled at the gesture and he smiled. “How did you ever become so sweet…especially after all of the cruel remarks I threw at you?”

“There had to be a reason for it. Even Voldemort wasn’t evil just because he wanted to be. The prejudice from first-hand experience. I figured you’d been through something similar. I’ve noticed that pure-bloods aren’t exactly kind to each other. They’re demanding and exclusive. It was Lily, wasn’t it?”

“Hmm?”

“She was the one that…you loved. And then your family…”

“Disowned me, correct,” he finished for her. “But don’t pity me. I’ve coped.”

“By hiding and dismissing any kind of affection. Until now.”

“Then I suppose we’ve nothing to worry about.”

“I don’t know if I’ve made it clear or not, but…I do love you, Severus. I’d’ve told you before, but…I wasn’t sure if you’d accept it.”

Severus lowered his voice and his mouth closer to hers. “Seeing as how we’re both mad for each other…perhaps…we could…commit ourselves.”

She tilted her head, her eyes soft with question. “You mean get married?”

“I’m hardly one for tradition,” he chuckled. “If that’s what you want, however, I can endure the ceremony.”

“I’m not sure that’s right…for us.”

“Perhaps we could just…promise.”

“But not yet. I don’t want…I don’t want to spoil this by rushing.”

He nodded, agreeing and then as she was about to say more, he pressed his finger to her lips. “Enough. Just…sleep.” She would have protested, but he had cast a spell. The day’s events had exhausted her and he knew that her mind would be racing. He watched her for awhile before drifting off himself.

-

He played with the key which rested against her neck as she slept in the morning. He wished he knew what its significance was, but she was allowed to have her secrets. Severus wouldn’t dare make her do anything.

“Hey,” she woke up smiling as she spoke. He wondered how in the world she managed that. Looking down, she saw his hand idly toying with the pendant. She reached around behind her and released the clasp. “C’mere,” she requested and Severus bowed his head. She reached around and secured the clasp behind his neck. He gave her a questioning look and she sighed.

“It’s…a symbol. They key to my heart. I figured I’d give it to the first person I fell in love with.”

“The first? What about Weasely?”

“Infatuation,” she explained.

Severus tentatively touched his lips to hers. Barely pulling away, he whispered, “Thank you.”

“Don’t break it,” she warned.

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

-

“Sev?”

“Hmm?”

She smiled to herself, noticing how much less formal his speech seemed now. It was more relaxed, less structured.

“Gimme your hand.”

He offered his large, thin hand to her in the dark and she placed it low on her tummy. She looked at him with large eyes, waiting for him to speak.

“What’s this supposed to mean?” he asked, smiling while the key she had given him dangled from his neck.

“It means that…there’s a part of you in me. I’m…we’re…”

Severus didn’t want for her to explain further and pulled her against him.

“You do realize now that you won’t be let out of my site.”

“You’ll have to.”

“Not now that I have two lives to protect. I won’t give up on this child. Not like I was given up on.”

“I don’t doubt it, but…you do have a job.”

He sighed, frustrated. “You can’t let me be romantic, can you?”

“Oh,” she grinned, reddening, “sorry.”

-

Severus heard the scream. It was heartbreaking. He’d never heard anything more painful in his life and he immediately rushed to Hermione who was covered in blood. He knew what it was the moment he saw. Dropping to his knees, he started to howl. “Damn! Why can’t I just be happy? Why do things like this happen?” He rushed over to Hermione quickly and held her in his arms as she continued crying.

Through the sobs, she could make out, “It’s all my fault.”

It was all he could do to whisper that it wasn’t, and he secretly blamed himself.

-

He spent the next few days wallowing and avoiding his promised. He had finally captured the woman and now, he disappointed her. Damn him. He offered even more deduction of house points, even from his own, for less and less harmful interruptions and misbehaviors.

Hermione came around, within the next few days. When her mood had improved, she came behind him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

“It wasn’t your fault,” she whispered. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault.”

“I never thought I’d want to be a father, but then…when you told me,” he sighed and growled. “I’d never been so…proud in my life.”

She tilted her head against his shoulder. “We can try again.”

“But what if it happens again?”

She sighed. She didn’t want to think about it. “We’ll have to hope that it doesn’t.”

He turned to face her and kissed her fully on the mouth. “Gods, woman, I love you.”


***

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