Better late than never!
(And it's late because of me, pokeystar - name is apt).
Title: The Element of Surprise
Word Count: 1213
Disclaimer: Thanks, as ever, to J.K. Rowling, who lets us play in her sandbox. No
money was made from this work of fanfiction
Summary: Hermione wants to surprise Severus, but he surprises her instead.
Author Note(s): This is for the lovely christev for being the Mini Round 6 Queen of Reviews. Her prompt was: Hermione tries to do something nice for Severus, but it keeps backfiring. Sorry it took so long to get this written. I tried writing six different ideas that didn’t work before coming up with this idea. Thanks to morethansirius for her alpha reading and karelia for her beta skills.
“Granger, this time you have gone too far!” Severus Snape shouted as he slammed open the door to Hermione Granger’s office. He noted with a mental wince that he had startled her, but he decided not to let it bother him. At least he had waited until her public office hours.
“Hello, Severus,” Hermione responded, returning to her work after one shocked glance. “Could you wait just a minute, please? I need to finish...” Her words trailed off as she added a couple more comments to the essay she was grading. Putting down her quill, she gave Severus an assessing look. “I presume from your expression and your manner of address you have something you wish to discuss.”
“Hermione, these attempts must stop! When will you realise that you won’t succeed? I discover your plots every time.”
Hermione’s expression was one of consternation. No doubt she was upset over another of her plans being ruined. “Plots? What are you talking about, Severus?”
Severus raised an eyebrow. So she was going to play innocent, was she? “Let’s pretend for a moment that I believe you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m referring to your attempts to ‘surprise’ me. You remember the surprise birthday party or the surprise celebration of my war efforts?”
“No, I don’t remember those because they never happened,” Hermione commented acerbically.
“They never happened because I discovered your plots and absented myself from Hogwarts. I don’t like surprises!”
“Really, Severus? Your friends were just trying to do something nice for you.”
“Yes, really, Hermione. And why would I like them? Let me recount some of the lovely surprises I’ve been privileged to receive: surprise attacks by the Marauders during my student years; surprise attacks by the Dark Lord; Dumbledore’s surprise requests—You won’t mind killing me, Severus, old chap, now, will you?; and to top it all off, there was the surprise attack by Nagini. To say I dislike surprises is sheer understatement; I hate, despise and detest them!”
Hermione was silent for a moment. Then she said in an almost cautious tone, “I can see your point about surprises, Severus, but why are you bringing this up now? The surprise parties were several months ago, and they didn’t seem to cause you this level of distress. In fact, I can remember thinking at the time that you might even have been a little amused.”
Privately, Severus thought Hermione’s attempts to surprise him were rather amusing. He should be thankful, he supposed, that she kept trying. Her manoeuvres helped maintain his high level of sensitivity to something-not-quite-right which he had developed over the years as a spy. But, this time...
“This time, you’ve overstepped the bounds of common sense,” Severus answered in a testy voice. “Surprise matchmaking is where I draw the line. I most certainly do not want you making my dating choices for me, particularly as you seem to want to pair me with Luna Lovegood.”
Hermione had tried to interrupt Severus more than once while he reprimanded her, but Severus would not permit it. Finally with a gasp of laughter, Hermione asked, “You think I’m trying to set you up with Luna Lovegood?”
Severus had no more patience with Hermione’s pretended innocence. “The number of times Miss Lovegood has crossed my path recently is much too obvious to be attributed to anything else. When will you realize that you won’t succeed? This latest ploy is the most inane attempt yet.”
Abruptly, Hermione stood. “Why don’t you join me for tea?” she asked.
“What? Why would you want to ask me to tea?”
“I’m hungry.” Hermione led Severus to a closed door located behind her desk which led to her personal quarters.
Once inside, Hermione indicated that Severus should sit on the sofa. She puttered around getting the tea things ready. Bringing the tea tray over to a low table, she sat on a nearby chair. Once she had served them both, she leaned back and sipped her tea.
“Severus, do you remember what you were like just after your recovery?”
Severus couldn’t remember much about the time period just after his recovery from Nagini’s attack. “I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
“You were – I don’t know how to describe it. You went through the motions of your everyday life, but it was as though you were in a fog. This went on for weeks and weeks. Everyone tiptoed around you because they weren’t sure if or when you might recover.
“Finally, Minerva and I decided you needed something to stimulate your interest in life again. So we planned your birthday party.”
“Minerva wasn’t part of the planning,” Severus insisted. “Just you.”
“Of course, we didn’t let you know that Minerva was in on it. I could be excused for not knowing how much you hate surprises in general and your birthday in particular, but Minerva had taught with you far too long to be in any doubt of your feelings. We were very happy with the results. You started to look as though you had a purpose again. It worked so well we decided to plan your surprise commendation party.”
“You planned these events but didn’t mean to execute them?” Severus said, disbelief colouring his voice.
“Certainly, we would have gone through with the parties if you had permitted them, but having the parties was a secondary goal to helping you recover.”
“I was just a project then.” Severus flinched as he heard the bitterness in his own voice. For some reason of which he was not aware, he did not want to be an object of pity to Hermione Granger.
Hermione must have heard the inflection in his tone, for she put down her teacup and moved to sit next to him on the sofa. Looking at him directly, she said, “No, you were not ‘just a project,’ Severus. You are... a friend whose welfare I care about.”
“A friend?” A sudden flash of insight caused Severus to understand why he didn’t want to be just Hermione’s project or an object of pity. He took a deep breath as he decided what to do. Slytherin subtlety was too often lost on Gryffindors, even brilliant Gryffindors such as the one seated next to him. Perhaps boldness was in order. “I had rather hoped I was more than a friend.”
Hermione looked completely taken aback by his statement. She was actually struck speechless for several seconds. Severus was beginning to think he had taken the wrong direction, but then, Hermione blinked and said, somewhat breathlessly, “Why, yes, I believe you are more than a friend.” She laid her hand on his, blushing a little.
A feeling of warmth rose within Severus as he turned his hand over to grasp hers. He wasn’t sure, but it might be happiness. One thing still bothered him. “Why would you want to throw me in the path of Miss Lovegood?”
“I haven’t been,” Hermione answered. “Setting up your dating life was certainly never one of my projects... although, perhaps that will change now?” She gave him a flirtatious smile.
Whatever was he supposed to do but return her smile with a smirk of his own? “Perhaps it will,” he answered, and the prospect didn’t bother him one bit.