Molly, this continues to be wonderful! Fan fic is such an interesting thing--you take this universe and then create your own little planet within it. I feel like you've been really true to the spirit of the Harry Potter world while still making it your own. I absolutely love it. =) Thank you thank you!
thanks everyone for the responses! I really appreciate getting feedback because it helps drive a positive feedback loop. (without responses it feels like I just arted and the universe didn't notice so why should I bother writing more?)
anyway I have more chapters coming, I just started a new job and the holidays happened and everything so more will come, though not immediately.
She headed to Severus’ rooms, and he looked truly lonesome. He was in the bedroom, sitting against the headboard, curled up in the cutest way with a mug of tea at hand, glasses perched on his high nose, and his computer on a side-table that extended its arm over the bed. It was heartbreaking the way he perked up when she came in, even though his momentary joy was covered up as fog began to fill his eyes. His gaze went back to the computer screen, looking chastened.
“Hey,” she murmured, shyly, and he nodded, not looking at her. She felt concern constrict her throat; there was something weary in his expression, even though he seemed like he was trying to be warm.
She gently propped herself up on the edge of her bed with her elbows and surveyed him. “Why do *you* look guilty?” she asked, feeling the words come out a little more forcefully than she intended. “I’m the one who was wrong, wasn’t I?”
“I suppose,” Severus said, but he clearly was not convinced.
“Well,” Hermione said, “how about we talk about about your control complex? Not everything that causes you pain is your fault.”
“No,” he conceded, bitterly, and she sensed that she was on progressively thin ice. “but that’s what I’ve been trained to believe, nonetheless.”
“You must know it’s rubbish,” she responded affirmatively. “You’re no more at fault for other people than other people are at fault for you.”
He seemed to take heed of her words, but after a brief moment of contemplating this reality, he seemed to find it too much of an effort to think about, and he pulled the comforter up over him tighter. His big tummy created a comfortable-looking hill under the duvet.
“No,” he acknowledged. He sounded like he wanted to believe in the words she said, but knew it was far outside the realm of possibilities he could reach. It was like seeing someone trapped in a glass bottle, being told for the hundredth time that life outside of the glass bottle was just peachy, and if only he could get out of the bottle, he would be happy.
“I apologize,” he added, not looking away from his computer, “for not responding to your patroni in kind.”
“It’s all right,” Hermione said. “Is there a particular reason you didn’t?”
He stared vacantly across the room towards the door, absorbed in his own painful thoughts, self-loathing etched in his face. The fingers of his right hand wormed their way under the blanket and seemed to rub at his love-handle. The comforter fell a little bit, revealing where his shirt had accidentally folded over itself as he sat in bed. It peeled back over his skin, revealing a comfortable-looking bulge of porcelain skin, which he grabbed and pinched between vicious fingers.
Out of concern, Hermione’s own fingers inserted themselves between his, preventing him from pinching himself, and he looked at her with a startled flash of alarm.
He took a deep breath and, thusly preparing himself, saved his screen and shut the computer with a snap.
“So, I have a request,” he said, “and please know that this is not as highly significant as it might sound, but is, in fact, just a request. We don’t need to talk about it.”
Hermione nodded. “Let’s have it,” she responded, trying to appear as affirming and responsive as she could be.
He sighed and leaned back on the headboard, staring at the ceiling. “I… would like if, barring major emergencies, you would… find an alternative to sending me patroni… I don’t want to explain.”
She, of course, could intuit there was something happening here, and it took her a full minute of thinking to get an idea of what it might be.
“Is it… because your patronus reminds me of *her*?” she asked softly, “I mean… at worst, it’s inconvenient, but of course if it hurts you because of the association, I understand.”
“It’s not *just,* that,” Snape said, a growl rising in his voice. Hermione put a hand on his tense shoulder and rubbed it. He added, teeth gritted, still staring straight up, “It’s much *worse.*”
Hermione, for her part, began to notice the smell of burning, and she looked up - the spot on the ceiling where Snape was staring was starting to fizz with red sparks, like ants dancing on a smooth white desert plain.
“Hey,” she whispered, trying to be comforting, “hey.”
Her touch and warmth seemed to have no impact on his pain, but he at least seemed to tolerate her touching him. “I can’t even say it,” he spat, his face fierce. Then, he summoned self-control with a deep exhale, and he closed his eyes.
Then he opened them again, and he let out a painful laugh that was clearly forced.
“Hah. All right. Forgive my moment of weakness.”
He unpeeled himself from her, landing a kiss on the surprised woman’s face, and he got up with practically a bounce, brushing down the corner of his shirt that had ridden up. “Have you had dinner?” he asked, and Hermione shook her head. “Good,” he said, “Let’s do that.”
Hermione followed him to the table, somewhat bewildered at the sudden change in mood.
“Erm,” she said, as he clapped for a house-elf, “Severus? Are you all right?”
“Certainly,” he said, sounding almost chipper. “Are you?”
Hermione squinted at him, suspicious, but sat down with him at the table. As he took off his glasses and laid them on the table, she was so confused that she didn’t even pay attention to what Severus ordered for himself. It seemed like he barely said anything to Minty, the elf that had quietly replaced Lowly as their regular servant. But no matter. Hermione ordered herself some decadent dishes, not feeling quite peckish herself, but knowing that once she started eating she’d get hungrier. Then she settled back in her chair for the moment, surveying her lover with worried eyes.
He seemed to be doing everything but making eye contact with her. Soon, the elf was gone, Severus began talking blithely about the invitations to the conference, and got out his computer again in order to recite, in alphabetical order, the individuals who they were inviting as guest speakers, the periodicals in which they’d advertised the conference, and the names of those who had registered.
“We have confirmed Ronan Gros for a presentation about dill’s anti-prophegenic properties,” Severus said, casting glances at her as he went, but never quite meeting her eyes. “And for the requisite presentation on the Ned’s Welt flower, the Norwegian who’s been publishing papers on it for seventeen years at this point, Mia Sorenssen. That covers all of the herbal essences, presuming all of them accept the invitation. Overall, I think we have a decent balance of genders presenting, despite everything.” He clicked from screen to screen with the ease of a graceful swimmer, never stopping for a beat.
Hermione felt herself relaxing into his banter, despite her worry. “What about people of color?”
He paused. “Let’s see,” he said, scratching on a piece of paper. There was an energy in him that she hadn’t seen before in their relationship; even in his very penstrokes, he seemed to be hustling with a sense of urgency.
“Not well balanced at all,” he admitted after a few moments of silence. “I suppose we could reach out to more of the Americans on the list.”
She nodded, and watched as he did some careful copy-pasting into emails. He glanced back at her between his rapid keystrokes, reflecting an intense intimacy, and she smiled feebly in response. This seemed to be enough.
He was garrulous and effortless, and appeared like he was entirely in control of himself and the situation around him. It was pleasurable in some ways to see him like this, because it reminded her a lot of how he presented in class - but instead where his laser focus had once been on preventing cauldrons from blowing up, he was intent on completing this task ahead of him.
If this change of mood hadn’t been so sudden, and so out of character with his mood recently, Hermione would have enjoyed seeing him a little less depressed. As it was, however, it made Hermione feel chills down her spine.
He’d sent ten emails by the time their dinner arrived, and he showed no signs of stopping.
“You’ve done a lot,” Hermione cajoled him as she looked at what was on the table. There didn’t seem to be nearly enough. All the elf had left at Severus’ plate was an anemic bowl of lettuce with vinegar as the only dressing, desperately trying to reassure the lonesome pork chop next to it. “Come, let’s pause for a while.”
“No, no, I’m fine,” he said, a bite in his voice. “Let me finish this.”
Hermione felt like her fork was heavy - too much so to eat anything. Severus, as it happened, wasn’t eating anything either.
Finally, after trying and failing to eat for several minutes, and watching Severus click and type with such hurry, she pushed his plate towards him. “Come,” she murmured, “let’s not get carried away.”
“I’m not,” he said, and his eyes shot a glare at her before going back to what they were doing.
“It’s not that important,” she said, feeling an intense anxiety mount in her body. But she swallowed it, and tried to keep it out of her voice. “It’s really not.”
He proceeded to actively ignore her, which made Hermione unsure of what to do. Out of a desire to get his attention, her hand moved towards his plate, hesitated, then grasped the pork chop by the bone.
Then she picked it up and put it to her lips, experimentally, watching Severus the whole time.
He didn’t look at her, but as she hesitated, he said with a shrug, “Go ahead and have it, if you want.”
She gently put the meat down on the plate again. This was not good.
“Hey,” she said, taking a deep breath, “when you get done, let’s talk a bit about what’s happening right now, okay?”
He shrugged. “Nothing’s happening. Just let me finish.”
So they sat there for almost twenty minutes, Hermione half-heartedly eating her own food, watching Severus’ efforts with bated breath.
The room was silent other than the sound of his fingers on the keyboard, until the sound of Severus’ phone rang. Both Severus and Hermione them visibly jumped in their own skins.
“A moment,” he said, standing up to answer his phone, heaving his body out of the chair and rising to pace the living room rug. He flung it open with a practiced air. “Hello?”
His body visibly tensed, as he crossed his free arm over his chest, his posture shrinking into a slump. “Yes, yes, yes. Completely better, yes. Yes. No trouble. I… thank you, my dear. All right. As I said before, those dates do work. Text me details as you have them. I love you, too.”
His vigorous new energy seemed to deflate even more as he flipped his phone shut, and Hermione could see that he felt self-conscious about having this conversation in front of her. Embarrassed, even.
“I may as well tell you,” he said, approaching the table again and putting a hand on top of his chair, “that Erika and Jean-Raoul are coming to visit in a few weeks.”
Hermione felt an immense rush of relief. At least here was a potential reason for his erratic behavior.
She waited for him to say something, but he looked at her expectantly. His stomach chose that moment to announce itself, and, mortified, he drew his robes more tightly around him, doing a decent job of disguising his tummy bulge.
“All right,” she said at last, resting her hands in her lap, “how do you feel about that?”
He glanced away from her, then met her eyes, and for the first time since she’d come in she felt like she recognized him.
And then all at once, he seemed to revert back five years, a haunted look entering his face.
She couldn’t help but be startled, since, in his pain and vulnerability, she was reminded of the look on his face that he’d had when he was in the Shrieking Shack, dying on the floor.
“You’re not excited about seeing her again,” Hermione said, her voice soft. They were making progress, even if she had to be intensely careful how she stepped. He wasn’t pretending away his panic anymore, and it had given way to despair.
“What do *you* bloody think?” he snarled, and, as though immediately regretting it, he leaned against the back of the chair and hid his face in his hand. “I’m sorry,” he murmured after becoming more composed. “I… I can’t let myself be a miserable git to you.”
“No,” Hermione said, “but don’t let that make you feel worse, this particular moment.”
She patted the seat of his chair. “Come here. Really.”
Shaken, he did obey her, and he practically curled into his chair. Awkwardly, of course, given his size. He tried to tuck his legs beneath him, though had a lack of success in this because of the thickness of his thighs. “I’m not… I’m…” he tried to say, and she offered him her hand. He took it, his eyes bright with self-hating tears, but he wasn’t crying.
“So,” Hermione said, as he faltered again. “First, you’re going to eat something. McGonagall could practically hear your stomach from her chambers, the rate you’re going.”
He appeared grim, but said nothing, and made no objection as she stroked his hair. It was a painful thing to watch, the way he almost winced under her fingers. She could tell he wasn't as comfortable as she wished he could be.
She then guided the fork into his hand, squeezing his soft palm in a comforting way, and he began to thrust it at the salad haphazardly.
“Come on,” she murmured, “ten mouthfuls.”
It took an age for him to do the first one. Hermione just patiently waited until he had successfully stabbed a quantity of lettuce and put it in his mouth. He barely chewed, and swallowed almost immediately.
“Good,” she murmured comfortingly, “that’s the way.”
The rest were no less painful to watch, as he seemed to engage in an internal tug of war every time.
Finally, he’d gotten through the required number, and he even picked up the porkchop, though he looked defeated as he ate it, as if he begrudged every morsel.
But at least this satisfied Hermione. “When you’re ready,” she said, “I’d love to know what you’re thinking. For what it’s worth, I'm looking forward to meeting Erika," she said hopefully.
"I am too," Severus said, not noticing the grammatical inconsistency. Instead, there was something else in his voice.
Hermione just waited. Severus glanced at her, and she nodded at him, encouraging him to speak further. He swallowed. "I... I am different with her than I've been with any other person ever in the world," he said softly. "I think you could tell."
Hermione nodded, listening, though she could not confirm anything other than that his physical depression was exacerbated by the call. "Different in what ways?" she asked, permissively.
Snape looked miserable. "I... I'm not sure exactly. It's not like I make jokes or such around her... But I'm lighter when I speak with her. I speak with her in a way I dare not at Hogwarts. There is a lack of… cultural history, I suppose… between us. I... She makes me forget," he said, stumblingly. "I don't have to put on an impenetrable facade. I don't have years of reputation as a slimy git working against my favor with her. And..."
He seemed to realize something, and had to fight it from stopping midway out of his mouth. Hermione tilted her head sweetly, trying to solicit his thoughts, feeling a curious type of intimacy.
How strange it was to speak with her man about how he felt about another woman. It filled her with a mix of emotions she didn't easily understand.
It was similar to how she'd felt when Ron had gushed about the way a teammate's arse looked on a broomstick, and that conversation had ended with tears. His, mostly, but as Hermione remembered the echoes of that ominous conversation years ago, she remembered she had cried, too.
-(It's not as though I'm into blokes or anything, but I just want to grab that thing and shove myself into it, you know?
-Erm, darling, that's exactly what being into blokes sounds like.
-No it isn't, it's just... Friendly roughhousing.
-Tell that to the men at the kink bar up the street.)
Presently, Snape managed to find his words. He looked reluctant, but strangely brave.
"I think she would be... ashamed... if she knew what people think of me here."
Hermione's heart melted, and she began to feel her eyes get wet.
He did love Erika, even if he did love Hermione too. But Hermione did fear that Snape's love of Erika might be a completely different kind of love in Snape's heart, and that Erika filled a hole formed in the image of Lily.
Whereas his love of Hermione was nowhere near the kind of love Hermione and he shared. Hermione realized that while she knew that he loved her, and she loved him, she didn't feel like she was in some kind of romance novel. There wasn't that deep and intense passion driving their relationship that she saw . Part of this, she realized, was because his love of her was requited. If it wasn't, chances are his way of relating to her would be completely different.
"I understand," she said, and even though they both knew she didn't, not one whit. But he didn't argue.
Instead, he sighed, seeming bewildered and slightly defeated. "I suppose I'm not thrilled about her coming *now*, at any rate."
"That's understandable," Hermione said, convincing herself that tears were exactly the opposite of what was a good idea right that moment. For some reason the voice of McGonagall coming back to her mind.
"He was left out in the rain sometimes... He would never be invited to their weddings in peacetime..."
She felt a shiver of sadness.
Severus seemed to be feeling the same, marinating in his own sadness, but it didn’t seem to be sad enough for him. “Understandable, yes. That’s an understatement,” he said, and he scooped up his hanging belly into his arm and cradled it. “I’ve become monstrous.”
He proceeded to let go of his excess flesh, and he toppled over slightly, and placed his head on her shoulder. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight. "Are you okay?" She asked, desperately hoping he could reassure her.
"No," he said, after several long moments. His voice was tight, and Hermione rubbed the back of his shoulders.
"That's all right," she said, feeling weirdly confident. "It's all fine."
He proceeded to weep silently. It was the eeriest thing, Hermione realized, to see such a strong fortress of a man keeled over, seeking comfort in her arms. He was clearly in a lot of pain, and she didn't know how to respond to it other than to try and comfort him. She felt both confident and helpless, her breaths even and slow to try and balance his own jagged inhalations, but also knowing that this was really the limit of what she could do.
"Forgive me," he murmured after some silent moments, "I am such an old fool."
"That's not true," Hermione said warmly, her Gryffindor spirit rising in her heart. "You aren't old, and you aren't a fool. You've... You've been broken, intentionally, is what's happened." She thought back to McGonagall's words, "Albus would say this was a matter of national security..."
Severus seemed to grow very small in her arms, his body withdrawing into itself. "That's not true," he nearly whimpered. "I've always been broken."
Hermione knew better than to press this point. She sadly stroked Severus' hair and held him just a little bit tighter.
Finally, Severus managed to reallocate his emotional resources, and he sat up, banishing his tears almost unnaturally. "I don't want to look this way for Erika," he said firmly. "She hasn't seen me in a long while, and I've gained nearly four stone since I last saw her in person."
"I see," Hermione said with a sigh of relief. “So that’s why you’ve been… not all right this evening.”
“That,” he said, with a murmur, “and the other thing. With the patroni.”
“Do you want to tell me about it?” Hermione asked, her hand wrapping around his.
He grimaced. “Would it be completely crushing if I didn’t want to talk about it?”
Hermione paused and thought very hard. “Two things,” she said. “First, it seems to continue to be hurting you. Second, this is the second time you’ve brought it up. I’m wondering if you’re hoping I will press you into telling me, because you feel embarrassed but you actually want to tell me. The other option, of course, is that you’re genuinely in pain and feel that it’s going to make your pain worse to tell me. If you are in pain, and you think you will feel better for telling me, then by all means, let’s have out with it then.”
Severus laughed darkly. “Hermione, the world would have been in the worst trouble had you been the Dark Lord.”
Hermione took this as a compliment, though an odd one. “Well, fortunately, you’re not servant to a dark lord anymore,” she said with as much pleasantness as she could muster, “and fortunately, I’m not and have never been a dark lord, and even more fortunately, I am really concerned about your well-being, and I don’t have time for Slytherin mindgames, thanks very much. So which is it - do you need to talk about it, but are reluctant to, or do you genuinely need to sort it out on your own?”
He seemed uncommonly pleased by this response. “I see that, in fact, you are pressuring me. In a very Slytherin way, as it happens. But no matter, you’re close to the truth when you ask me if I *need* to talk about it. Though *wanting* to talk about it is out of the question.”
Severus then took a deep breath. “I can’t,” he breathed out, “I can’t cast one anymore.”
Hermione’s brain buzzed, but she kept quiet for a moment. “Why not, do you think?” she asked, as she realized he was waiting for her.
“I don’t quite know,” he said, “I expect it has something to do with the neurotransmitters. I didn’t even notice for a long time after I started medications. I’ve talked about it extensively with Erika, who has taken quite an interest in the problem, but suffice it to say, I cannot cast a patronus of any kind.”
“I’m so sorry,” she replied, feeling the intensity of his sadness resonate through her. “That’s terrible.”
He didn’t respond, and looked away instead.
“I… I hope you don’t think that you’re a bad person, or like there’s no hope for you to be happy, or something because of this,” Hermione went on, “I certainly don’t think so.”
“All right,” said Severus, shaking his head, “let’s talk about something else.”
“I hear you,” Hermione responded. “But please know that I don’t think less of you for it. There must be hundreds of people in history who couldn’t cast a patronus. It’s just one spell.”
He cast her a baleful look that implied, *shut up, shut up, shut up!* so she did so, with great restraint.
She obeyed, for once, and they sat there in silence until Severus took a deep breath and gestured to Hermione.
“I was being ridiculous,” he said, brushing his hands over his face. “And being hungry doesn’t help anything. Can I have some of your pudding?”
“Please,” Hermione said with a bright smile.
As he served himself from the tin in front of her, she hoped that he wouldn’t notice her hands shaking with the final release of the tension that had been in the room.
Despite her efforts to hide them, she wished he would notice her shaking hands. She wanted to be comforted, but was far too embarrassed to ask.
He didn't notice at all, actually, and it stung, particularly coming on the heels of her thoughts regarding how he seemed to feel about Erika. Hermione was certain he would notice *her* hands shaking at the dinner table, even if she tried to hide them.
But given her pragmatic attitude, she tried to feel all right.
She was cheered by the fact that Severus seemed to have abandoned all his former hesitancy, and had taken the pudding tin into his hands and was directly eating out of it. He was focused on this, and it was adorable, and she tried to forget everything else. His cheeks were chubby, his belly was filling out nicely as he ate bite after bite, four servings of pudding already disappeared inside him without pause, supplemented by copious glasses of milk.
"Are you going to finish that?" Hermione asked, taking a deep stabilizing breath. She definitely was enjoying the view, and her own pain was easing as she watched him eat.
"It's practically gone as it is," he confirmed, scraping out the remaining treacle crumbs.
"And I thought you were trying to be moderate," Hermione teased gently.
He looked at her with a cool, dispassionate glare, which wasn't really all that harsh.
"A fool's errand," he responded, "particularly given recent evidence that demonstrates my mood's stability depends on my intake being unrestricted."
"A quick turnaround," Hermione said, "but no matter. The main thing is, you're feeling better?"
He put the empty tin on the table and passed a tongue over his lips thoughtfully.
"...no," he answered, after significant deliberation. "I am better able to cope with my discomfort, now, but no, I do not actually feel better."
Hermione moved her chair closer to his, and laid a hand on his own. She wasn't shaking any more, and she felt more in control of herself.
"I'm sorry," she said, "I wish you did feel better."
He looked at her with a kind of sadly amused appreciation, charmed by her efforts to make him feel better despite their futility.
"Myself as well," he murmured.
Hermione's hand gripped him a little harder, and inched its way up his arm, where she grasped him tighter at the base of his fleshy upper arm, the one closest to her. He responded by putting his other hand in her lap, where his thumb slowly traced the outline of her navel through her clothes, gently caressing the rim of her blossoming belly. It was an electric sort of feeling, and she could feel his energy changing as they touched each other.
But they did not move for many minutes, instead feeling each other physically. Hermione, for her own part, was feeling herself emotionally.
She'd been scared for a good part of the earlier evening. Scared of what, she wasn't entirely sure she could name, but Severus had behaved strangely, and she had been terrified of this being a new normal. She had already struggled to adapt to his depression, and she wasn't sure if she could adjust to... Whatever it was that had been. She'd actually forgotten that he could be so irritable, so uncaring. And the only reason that he'd been able to snap out of it was because Erika called him.
But, she reasoned, wasn't Erika the reason he started acting that way in the first place?
She was interrupted from thinking more about this by Severus' saying, "I apologize for earlier. Sometimes my own behavior gets the best of me."
She cast a look at him that was partly kind, mostly serious.
"You've never been like that before," she said. "Is this part of your...bipolar?"
"Perhaps?" He responded, and touched her shoulder, his long but pudgy fingers massaging it. She loved the feel of how he touched her. "You might be right. I can't always tell when mania sets in, while depression hits me like a bludger."
"is that what mania looks like?" she asked, perplexed.
"I don't know," he answered, though his voice was getting stony-edged again. "It's easier for me to remember what it looked like at its worst than to remember anything else about it. It's likely, come to think of it. But medication helps it from taking root in me for days, the way it used to. Let's move on, shall we?"
"No," said Hermione, and she started to feel herself shaking again. "No, we've got to talk about this. We can't just pretend it away."
"It's not pretending," Severus said, and there was that same unkind fierce defensiveness in his voice, and Hermione felt herself slip momentarily into the eyes of an eleven year old girl with painfully long teeth, and the pain and despair began to set in.
Her face paled as his eyes bore into hers, penetrating and scornful....then suddenly he back-tracked, and she felt herself return to her present with only an echo of the feelings to remind her of what had happened. It always hit her hard when she remembered they’d once had a student-teacher relationship, and the smallest things could make memories come back to her in a wave of nauseating emotions. Especially of that incident with the teeth.
"No," he revised, more quietly. "I must check myself. This is me trying to hold myself together, and regretfully failing."
He stood up with a wince, then, upon thinking again, sat down once more.
"Mania," he said, biting his tongue for a moment as he grouped his thoughts, "for me, was never really euphoria. They say that's atypical. I don't give a shit about what is or isn't, you understand, but it bears noting. When I was in a manic state, I could go days without sleep and not feel a thing. They say that's very typical."
He grimaced. "Dumbledore liked these periods for that reason alone. I had a great deal of energy, though I was always very argumentative with him during these times. I think he enjoyed it, kept him on his toes. And when I lost my temper with him, he thought it meant I was able to keep it better leashed with the dark lord."
A bitter smile. "He was right about that, but not for the reasons he thought."
He gazed into the distance for a moment, reflective. Hermione thought about Snape the insomniac, raging around the castle for hours and never sleeping. It occurred to her that she'd never thought about why running into Snape in the late night was a likelihood, and not just a possibility. It put quite a different tone on the exploits she had shared with Harry over the years.
As if reading her mind, Severus added, "Come to think of it, many of our arguments - between myself and Dumbledore - were about Potter."
Hermione felt her heart twinge with pain at not having talked to Harry in so long. She should floo him, maybe this week.
"Sounds really distressing," she said, and he nodded.
His face was drawn as he further reminisced, "The mania usually ended in terror - usually I believed that I had been found out. I would hear phantom voices telling me to kill myself."
Hermione felt strangely unfazed by this. While she never would have guessed off hand that he had suffered hallucinations, it was not surprising to her.
"You couldn't block them out by occulmency?" She asked gently.
"Only for a little while," he responded, his hand clasping hers more tightly. "It was different than having someone in your mind - it seemed to be from outside, and thereby was more real and unpredictable."
He looked seriously at her. "I think that's what scared me the most. I would have to go to Madam Pomfrey a complete mess, and she would knock me out with some home brew of hers for twelve hours or something ridiculous, and then I'd wake up again, and recoup most of the hours with a time turner, and for the most part that was the end of that."
"I'm sorry," Hermione said. She felt these were paltry words, ineffective and a poor response. But he didn't seem to think so, as he drew himself closer to her.
"I only really feel like I can cope with all of it when doing one of two things," he said slowly, "and I suppose you don't need me to tell you what those are."
Hermione didn't need to be told - she passed him platter of linguine that had sat in front of her their entire conversation. It was cold, and he didn't seem to be appetized by it, and indeed after a moment he clapped his hands and summoned their elf again.
"I know I abase the practice,” he said, after calling for what seemed enough to feed a small army, "but there’s something about Muggle packaging on foods. It’s mostly abhorrent to me, but I do miss the sensation of knowing exactly how much damage one is about to do before one has done it. It's hard to replicate without losing a great deal of its aesthetic - casting a calorie interpretation charm just doesn’t have the same feel as eating an entire package of cakes and looking at the calories on the back, and realizing one has eaten enough to fuel a family of four in one meal.” He settled back, one warm hand on his tummy.
“They have these ‘family-size’ frozen dinners. I found it amusing, buying these to feed my family of one.” His smile was blackly humorless. “There’s such a sensational misery of knowing you’ve eaten, in one sitting, more than three times what you’re supposed to in a day. The thrill of disbelief, the summoning of courage against the compulsion. The ability to quantify the pain and review the course of the struggle with utter precision."
He sighed. "I did not realize I would miss that."
Hermione felt her throat stick, as though she had tried to swallow a pill without water.
"You really are doing this to hurt yourself, aren't you?" she murmured, and she was terrified of his response.
She felt herself wilt under his gaze, her heart racing as his serious eyes mournfully implored her to pay attention. "I was talking like that," he murmured, "last week. But I've been giving it some thought, and I don't think I want to die quite yet."
She could have been struck by a thunderbolt, she was so startled. "Well, that's a relief," she said, trying to get her bearings back, but as it happened, she lost them completely, and ended up sobbing for no particularly rational reason.
He scooped her up and held her as she cried, and kissed her tenderly and stroked her hair. She tried a few times to get a grip on herself again, but three times lost it immediately. It was no use.
Finally she managed to cry herself out. Sometime during this period, Snape's food arrived, but he let it sit. It was only when she had gasped the last tears out that he asked, "What was all that?"
"Severus," she moaned, "you're important to me. You don't think I'm going to be glad when you tell me you've got the will to live?"
"I *dont* think I said that," said Severus gruffly, but there was a tender thoughtfulness underneath it.
"Well, a desire to not be dead is a step in the right direction," she responded with a pained laugh.
"How could I want to be dead," he murmured. "I've never *wanted* it. I've been ambivalent, yes. Because being dead has merely seemed better than the alternative sometimes, that is all."
The corner of his mouth formed a recalcitrant smile. "For the moment, though, I'm very satisfied with what I've got." He kissed her on the top of her head. "I suppose I simply struggle in terms of the mechanics of *how* to live effectively. At least," he added darkly, “that’s how I feel right now.”
"After so many years of panic and fight or flight, settling down is hard," she affirmed. "Even I have had trouble with that."
"Unfortunately,” Severus said, and began to reach for the chips that sat in front of him.
As he ate, Hermione nestled herself deeper in his arm, face first. His deodorant or what-have-you smelled deliciously masculine, and breathing in the scent, laced with sweaty pheromones, made Hermione's mood improve a bit as well. The feeling of his flesh reverberating as he chewed was incredibly satisfying, and she thought blissfully about the calories he was consuming, adding on top of those he'd already eaten in the treacle tart.
They remained quiet until he had finished his fish and chips. This took a rather long time, because he'd ordered a platter sized to feed a cadre of students.
He couldn't finish it all, even with Hermione's help (her hand snuck out to steal a great many.) but eventually it became clear that he was comfortably full, and Hermione massaged his well-plumped tummy with great admiration. He had put away a great many chips indeed, and several battered fish besides, and his stomach seemed to radiate warmth as her hand massaged it.
Then, with salty breath, Severus began kissing her again, on the top of the head, then slipping down to nibble provocatively at her ear, and she felt herself warm up to the idea of making out. She felt his hand brush away the fierce strands of hair that hid the back of her neck, and his fingers wormed their way up to gently touch the nape of her neck, along the hairline, where its velvet softness yearned to be touched. His lips proceeded to wend their way up the same path, beginning near the base of her spine with slow, perfectly-tempered kisses that made their way up her neck, warming her and leaving her skin tingling and warm.
There was the hint of teeth once every few kisses, just the right amount, reassuring Hermione of his animal possessiveness and attraction to her. She murmured and sighed as she felt him nip her just a bit, and arched her neck. he responded to this by experimentally taking the lump of fat at her chin into his teeth and pressing down a little harder.
She outright moaned. "God," she whimpered, "yes."
He was immediately intrigued, and with a fierce motion, he ripped her front buttons open to reveal her growing, swelling breasts. Scooping one of them into his hand and kneading it - what a nice feeling, she thought as she looked at it, her breast was so big it spilled out of his hand, unable to be contained, a big ball of fatty molten tissue, like jiggly bread dough - he then pressed his lips against the side of it, at the place the breast joined her chest, where the fat was thickest, and he clasped it in his teeth gingerly.
"Yes," she murmured, relishing the feeling of teeth and hot tongue together. He was biting and licking at the same time, and with a few careful waves of his hand, Hermione felt a similar sensation on her other breast as well, symmetrically. Snape had used what Hermione privately called a cloning charm, which replicated his efforts on her other side.
She felt herself opening up like a flower on time-lapse video, her entire body awakening to the sensations and longing to be penetrated. She slipped out of his arms onto the floor and lay there. The rug was old and not particularly comfortable, but she grabbed her wand and waved it, and suddenly the rug was fresh and plush, the kind of rug that was a pleasure to sink one’s feet into. She relaxed into it and undid the rest of her bodice.
He seemed happy to oblige her needs, and he leaned practically into her armpit and kissed her down her sides, licking and sucking at the rolls of chub she had grown. His cloning spell meant that she felt the same thing up and down the other side of his body. She felt the waves of euphoria exude from her, and she had to wave at him to cancel the spell.
"Too much, too quick," she murmured. "Come on."
She wiggled her butt out of the rest of her dress, balled it up, and tossed it carelessly out of their way. Severus undid his shirt, but that's as far as he got. She was met by the sight of his big pudgy tum, restrained by an improperly sized belt (in other words: it was too small) and tucked into the binding spells that kept his trousers from falling to pieces as they struggled around the circumference of his so-wide gut. As his hands moved towards his belt, she shook her head and grabbed at his chub.
Oh, it bulged so deliciously, stuffed so completely, as into sausage casing. It threatened to burst as he moved, and she nearly screamed in delight to see the way his tum sloshed and moved under the too-right fabric, daring it to try and hold on much longer. There was evidence of a second belly roll forming there on top, depending on the angle at which he was positioned. As he sank to sit on the rug with a satisfying, fleshy thump, she saw it poking above the other one like the sun peeking over a hill.
"You are gorgeous," she murmured, a hand pressing against the delicious rise of flesh. "What if I told you I wanted to be as fat as you are by Christmas?"
His eyes widened in horror.
"That would... be quite a lot of weight," he said, dangerously close to stammering. "Why set a goal like that for yourself? Didn't we just have a conversation about... living, and its relative merits?"
Hermione sighed, and sat up. She had been hoping this was an avenue to pillow talk, not a distraction. Alas.
"I mean," she said, with a frown, "it's different. It really is. I'm not suicidal, darling - I just want to be fat."
"How are those not the same thing?" He demanded, and, as if he were becoming self conscious, he held his shirt against himself, cradling it.
"They aren't the same," Hermione said.
"How?" He demanded again. "Fat is an objective risk factor for poor heAlth on every major metric. Hermione, I appreciate body positive attitudes, I appreciate the erotic components of feeding and stuffing. But you have got to get it through your mind that no one who is healthy wants to be fat. That is the bound between reality and fantasy that I'm not willing to cross if I'm trying to be healthy. Wasn't it you who was arguing the exact opposite of this with me a month* ago?"
"Yes," Hermione said, "but that was because you were blatantly in disregard of your health. You were a hedonist kamikaze, not simply a hedonist. Just because you've changed your mind on one part of it doesn't mean the rest of it is non-negotiably bad."
He seemed to consider this, and then shook his head. "I can't accept this, Hermione."
"Well," Hermione responded, "how do you think I felt when you said you don't care if you get so fat you become mortally sick?"
He looked down his nose at her, but said nothing else.
"I accepted that," she said, "even though the implication was that I might lose you, and that you were all right with that eventuality. I made an effort to not take it personally. I demand the same from you. You don't have to feel good about it, but accept it you must."
He rolled his eyes. "Either you, my dear, have outwitted me, or whatever spell or potion you've used on me is making me think so. I don't have a response that isn't an emotional argument."
She breathed a heavy sigh of relief. "Now of course," she said, "in my case, if any health indicators are alarming, I would stop, Severus. I'm not about to sacrifice my long term happiness for short term happiness. But I do want to do this, for whatever reason, and I would like for this to be a delightful, erotic, and pleasurable experience for both of us, if you choose to participate. Either way," she said, "my mind is made up, and I will try and do this."
"But why," he murmured, looking down at his own body. He seemed to be asking beyond the reasons he cited.
"Because," Hermione said, gently touching his bare shoulder. "I'm immensely curious about what it will be like, and I want to experiment with my own body, and find a weight that both meets what image I have for myself and is optimal in terms of health. I already know I like being bigger, and I want to see what it is like to be significantly bigger. Beyond what most people would imagine desireable."
She felt herself add, despite herself, "in some ways, I also want to be of comparable size to you. Partly to show you that, indeed, you are beautiful. And partly because I know your interests, and I think you would enjoy more of me, as much or even more than I will."
She smirked. "I must say, though, that the main reason is me. I want to. And my not-too-serious goal is to be as big as you are by Christmas."
He let his shirt drop into his lap, and he leaned towards her. Rolling his shoulders back, he let his body assume a more confident posture. Hermione had long known this attitude was an affectation, but even as he sat there, training his eyes on her, the raw power contained in his gaze and body was formidable.
This was not a man who would like you to play him falsely in any respect. Hermione appreciated that about him, his distrust. It made gaining his trust all the more valuable.
"I have accepted, with great effort of will," he said softly, dangerously, "that you like this." He cupped a handful of his soft breast into his hand and squeezed it. "It just makes me feel like I walked into a trap. And anything that seems to speak too much like the accoutrements of a trap makes me suspicious. Whether that's you appreciating my... Appetite.. Or you dangling before me visions of Eros so confounding that they make my head spin." He gazed at her menacingly.
"This isn't a trap," she responded, her own voice low and dangerous. "Accept that, and let's get fat together. For the right reasons, not the wrong ones."
"The right ones being?"
She grinned. "Enjoying it marvelously."
He nodded sagely, as if it had been his idea all along.
by the way if you read this, please drop a comment below! even if it's just a 'good job keep writing' I really like to feel affirmed a lot and stuff
He didn't seem to know how to respond, so he stumbled up and towered over the table. His lips pursed, and he touched his chin with his fingertip. She was reminded of how she first saw him that day in the Great Hall when they first encountered each other again, the way he had so carefully deliberated the choice he was going to make. It was a false sign of reservation, she saw now, an elegant but awkward attempt to stave off time before he took practically all of it.
"Just get whatever appeals to you," she said with a smile on her voice. "No need to debate with yourself."
He grimaced, apparently hating how easy he was to read, but did not respond, his sense of dignity too fragile to stop pretending at it.
He went ahead and brought down some things for them to share on the rug - a large toffee pudding (apparently he hadn't had enough), and a bowl of strawberries.
"Here," he said, the crisp white bowls gleaming in the firelight as he set them down, "have some."
She realized she had barely eaten dinner, other than the fried chips, and was still queasy with the emotional turmoil. She did take a strawberry and she chewed it, letting the sharp flavor cleanse her palate.
She was more interested in feeding him, for the moment, so she picked up a berry and licked it seductively.
"You," he murmured, laying down on the floor, belly flattening underneath him, "what are you doing?"
She didn't need to respond; she put the berry gently in between her teeth and went, belly first, to his eye level, grinning impishly.
"Fine," he moaned, and he inched towards her and began to lick her lips, slow and tantalizing, coaxing her until she gave up the fruit to his tongue.
"Thank you," he said once he'd swallowed it, and before he could say another word, she had another one in her hand, twirling in front of his face by its fibrous stem.
"That's not polite," he said with a groan, but snatched it out of her fingers like a shark grabbing at a fish slung over the back ledge of a boat.
"Why not?" She asked, pressing another one into her mouth, and he moved towards her again to grab it from her lips. She rolled over, starting to giggle, still in possession of the strawberry, which began to ooze its juice out of her mouth over her teeth and down her chin. She tried to suck it up but failed.
He settled the question by kneeling and, as she tried to escape, he lorded himself over her like a lion, with a heavy arm supporting him on one side, and the other possessively caging her on the other side, successfully pinning her down. She felt her chest pounding to have so much heaviness above her, and Snape's cruel smile... Was it play, or was it real? Probably both. He looked as smug as a Gryffindor that had caught its prey unguarded, and was prepared to use brute strength to overcome it to submission.
Oh yes, this was how Slytherins and Gryffindors were the same, Hermione thought, drinking in Severus' power. They both were lords of their ladies, conquerors at heart, never ceasing to have enemies, but also never ceasing to have passion. Slytherins just had been bullied so long they knew the value of hiding their truest desires from everywhere else - that was what disenfranchised people did to protect themselves. But in their own territory, when their own power had waxed.... Oh, Severus was a sight to see. She had, in her relationship with Ron, always thought of herself as the one in charge of the relationship- particularly in charge of such necessary evils as maintenance and care.
But here, in this relationship, she knew it wasn't so one-sided. Ron had never ceased to irritate her in how little he initiated in anything other than the obvious. This was not the case with Severus, no matter what was going on with his crystal-like love for Erika.
Oh, she knew the way he looked at her, he didn't think she was a fragile creature waiting to be protected by him from the cruel world. He saw her as different than that, she felt - a partner worth fucking, not worth worshipping. A partner worth twisting into submission for the sheer joy of it. A partner who wouldn't submit unless she wanted to - and half the pleasure was in convincing her.
He could indeed be a wolf, or a snake, or whatever convenient metaphor he chose. He could do this with her. Not with Erika, and certainly not with Lily.
She had never thought of herself as submissive, but here she was, letting him play her into that place so easily. What a delight it was not to have to be the one trying to get his attention! He was intensely focused on her every breath, watching as she fidgeted and moved.
She was startled from her rapturous wool gathering as he launched himself to the floor and bundled her inTo his arms and stole the squished strawberry from her parted lips, kissing her deeply afterwards, licking her chin and cheeks. Then, when satisfied, he relaxed, and she rolled slightly in his arms until he was spooning her as they lay on the floor.
"This is... Enjoyable," he murmured after some moments, "but I grow impatient. I think we need some more... Efficient methods, am I right?"
"After you," Hermione said with a smile. "I'm a bit worked up after the intensity of the past hour. Not feeling quite all right."
"I hear you," he murmured, and with a great effort he sat up, and the motion was such that his stomach slipped out from being constrained by his trousers; now his belt sat underneath his massive gut, and he rubbed it absently along the lines the belt cut into him. "Would you like to feed me, then? Would that whet your hunger?"
"yes," she said with an enthusiasm that made her own spine tingle.
She let her fingers dive into the soft flesh of his belly and knead it. They were becoming used to having this decadent experience. it was like bathing in cream. And she was well on her way to developing her own luxurious body for them to enjoy.
"Let's get some more food into this belly," she said with a smile, and with gentle hands she guided him into a reclining position, his head propped up by pillows.
His hair arrayed beautifully across the silk and velvet, and she positioned herself beneath the pillows so that his head was indirectly on top of her thickening thigh. "There," she said with a whisper, "that comfortable?"
"Very," he returned, a sly smugness on his face.
His stomach, relishing the relaxed position, made satisfied gurgling noises.
"I can't tell if that means hungry or processing," Hermione said with a smile, "but either way, a bit more can't hurt."
Snape responded by leaning slightly upwards and putting his mouth on the fatty underside of her breast, a hot rush of teeth and soft tongue.
"Mmm," she murmured, feeling awash with heat. "I can't wait until we can sit like this and my breast is so big you can suck my nip from where you now sit."
He shivered. "That's a pleasing thought."
She struggled off her underwear, careful not to disturb him, and he made a motion to take off his trousers and pants as well.
"No," she said as she put an imperative hand on his belly, "wait."
"They hurt," he argued feebly.
She looked down and met his eyes. "Do you *really* want me to let you take them off?"
She conceded. "All right. But let's make sure we're both on the same page as we enter the play."
He mumbled his assent as he swiftly disentangled himself from his belt, trousers, and pants.
"All right," he said with a nearly silly grin, "I didn't think it was fair if you got to be disrobed while I didn't."
"No matter. I have some other plans for you, sweetheart," said Hermione. "Remember our safe word, though."
"I remember," he said with a low growl of pleasure.
"Then let's begin," she said with delight. She proceeded to accio his trousers to her hand. "You won't be needing these anymore, will you?" She asked softly. "They're far too small to be comfortable."
"I only have one other pair in an... Appropriate size," Severus said with embarrassment.
She nodded. "We can do something about that this week," she said. "For the moment, is there something else I can use?"
He wandlessly summoned a cotton dish towel from the kitchenette.
"This is fine," she answered. "Let's get started."
She proceeded to lay the cloth on top of his belly, grab her wand, and cast some interesting transfiguration spells. When it had finished transforming into a long bolt of cotton cloth, she gestured for him to help her get it underneath him, and he arched his back, unintentionally provocative as his belly became prominent, and she admired it with one hand caressing its curve.
She remained focused though, and stuffed the cloth underneath him. Then she began to magically cut and sew it, the first time she'd bothered with anything like this since Molly Weasley taught her the domestic skill. (Her face grew hot at the realization.) the cloth began to grow into an Oxford shirt, with buttons down the front. The fabric yielded to her easily, though it remained checkered and dish towel-like despite her efforts to blend it. She was also unable to get out the few snags that plagued the thing, but she managed to work them into buttonholes that were halfway passable.
Soon the shirt was done, and Hermione admired her handiwork. The towel had been repurposed to an almost unrecognizable end.
Severus looked at it skeptically, craning his neck.
"If I even sit up," he said with a grimace, "this entire thing will fall apart."
Hermione grinned with a thrill as he said that. The sight of him in this shirt was even more enticing than he'd looked in his trousers. The buttons gaped, revealing the delicate skin underneath, and looked in his
"The point," she said with a giggle, "is that you will be trapped where you are until you eat enough to burst the thing."
Severus' face grew quiet. "No," he murmured, "I can't do that. I'm already so full."
"Not too full to sass me, though," she replied smoothly. "No, Severus, I won't be satisfied that you've had enough until you eat your way out of that shirt. Come now, it's already so tight on you. You could do it right now if you finished that tin of pudding, now couldn't you?"
He groaned, and put a hand on his upper belly to massage it deeply with his fingers. She could already see his erection rising, which was a very good sign.
"I suppose," he tumbled good-naturedly. "But I can't do it without some help."
"No fear," Hermione said with a smile, and she accio'ed the tin of pudding into her hands. "I will stuff you, Severus, until you are too full to speak."
He nodded, and she was satisfied by the twinge his dick made as she spoke.
"I am ready," he announced, and she took the big wooden spoon from the table and drove it into the thick, gooey pudding. It was like driving a pylon into the sea, where it could stand right up afterwards, but she wasn't doing this for aesthetics. She took the spoon out of the pudding and gave Severus an enormous spoonful.
"Enjoy," she said with a soft smirk, and she was exhilarated to see him attack it ravenously. He practically inhaled it, then waved her hand to get more as he sucked it down.
"That's so rich," he murmured with a sigh after eating the second heaping spoonful. "I might be unable to tuck it in."
"Now that's all right," she said cheerfully, "you can take a break if you want to, my dear. Just know that this warm, sticky mess will be followed by a course of something quite different."
She pressed a strawberry into his mouth as he tried to respond, and he was effectively shut up for the moment.
"Hermione," he begged, and he thrust a second, then a third strawberry in his mouth, pudging out his cheeks in the way that made him look so plump and delectable. Then, as he swallowed, he seemed to have a flash of inspiration. "Mistress?"
That got her attention darned well. "Yes, poppet?" she asked, not sure how she chose the word, but if Severus objected, he didn't say so. In fact, she thought she saw a glimmer of warmth in his eyes. Maybe he liked being talked to like a child.
"Can't I have some more?" There was a contented purr in his voice that she found irresistible. She began to stroke his shirtfront, trying to smooth the wrinkles in vain.
"More what?" she asked, obviously she knew, but it was part of the play. She draped herself across him and kissed his cheek.
"More pudding," he said simply.
Hermione tsked with her tongue.
"Now darling, I know I usually let you have whatever you want, but I want to make sure you know that you're getting a bit, erm, big."
"Is that so?" he replied, the awe and surprise in his voice clearly a charade, but an effective one.
"Oh yes dearie," Hermione said, finding her voice sounded like her grandmother's strangely. It was a comforting sort of fretting. "I mean, haven't you gotten too big for your trousers? If you keep this up," she went on, her voice getting stiffer as her lady-bits got harder, "you might get fat."
"Oh no," murmured Severus, with childlike simplicity, and it was the most eerie and charming thing. "But," he went on, "what if I can't stop eating? I like to eat, Mistress. It's my favorite thing to do."
"Do you want to get fat?" answered Hermione, her face reddening as her hand grappled with the most convenient and beautiful roll of his fat.
"What's wrong with it?" asked Severus, and that was Hermione's cue. She ripped herself from the floor and sat herself down on top of his cock, her buttocks spreading over his balls and her vag firmly trapping his dick, forcing it to fold backwards up against his belly.
"Imagine your belly is as heavy as I am," she whispered, "that my fat behind is your own belly and pubic fat. They’re so large and so jiggly that they trap your precious willy and hide it in a massive blob of flesh."
He shuddered in ecstasy, his eyes closed, his hands groping her blindly until they got to her beautiful deflating-bubble butt. (She’d noticed her buttocks just starting to sag with cellulite as the fat cells began to adhere to gravity's call.)
"Do you want to get so big, Severus," she whispered, "that you can't get out of bed, that you're entirely dependent on me, your busty Mistress-slave, to fetch and carry for you what you yourself cannot?"
He was clearly having immense trouble keeping his body from succumbing to the rapture of orgasm, so all he could do was nod.
"Good, good, my sweetheart," she whispered, "then here you go."
She gently got off him, and his hands went immediately to touch himself, to alleviate some of the desperate pangs of lust that she had evoked in him. She grabbed his hands in a forceful coup.
"No," she said imperiously, "not until you have finished your dinner."
He moaned with what seemed like genuine pain, so she broke for a moment. "Do you want to stop?" she asked, staring at him seriously. And his eyes opened to look into hers with what seemed to be actual hurt and struggle.
He answered, in a hiss, "No."
"Are you sure?" she confirmed, "You don't look particularly happy"
"Go back," he sneered, his face reddening, "now."
"All right," she said, and he glared at her even for saying this. She grabbed the tin of pudding, and Severus demanded, "Say it again."
"What?" she asked, and he groaned. Then she realized what he meant. "Oh," she responded, squeezing his hands again and holding him down. She leaned in closely, slowly, until her lips met his ear.
In an erotically dramatic fashion, she whispered, "You can touch yourself any time you like, as much as you like, but only after you have finished your dinner. You promised me that you'd finish your toffee pudding." She then lifted the spoon to his lips. "Were your eyes bigger than your stomach?"
"Never," he responded hoarsely. He proceeded to grab all of the contents from the spoon with his teeth, and as he chewed, a change came over him. He tore his hands out of her grasp. “Now,” he said, one hand on his belly, the other propping his head up in an incredibly luxurious fashion, “let’s dispense with the frivolity. Feed me, witch.”
She saw it was her time to let him be in charge, and she shrank away a bit as she lifted the next spoonful to his mouth. He took it and swallowed it swiftly, and then gestured for something to drink.
Hermione grabbed him the pitcher of milk, and she poured him a tumbler and gave it to him. He drank it greedily, his thick double-chin bobbing as he gulped. He gave the tumbler back to her, and she put it on the floor, and as her head was turned she peripherally saw him stifle a burp in his sleeve.
She then took the spoon and offered it to him again. He took another heaping bite, but frustration seemed to set in. He seemed about to say something caustic, but instead revised, it instead saying, “This...oh, just give it to me.”
Hermione gave him the spoon and held the bowl for him. He proceeded to go to town on that tin of toffee pudding. While substantially larger than the other one, he made steady progress.
During his next milk break, the man finally lost the buttons on his shirt. Hermione was watching for any sign of breakage, as the shirt’s buttons couldn’t possibly take any more strain, and she was delighted when, as he took a deep breath after drinking a full tumbler of milk, the buttons practically peeled off.
“Gods,” was all he said, with relief, and he peeled off the scraps of what was left of the shirt (which, granted, was all of it, minus buttons.)
He didn’t see the red marks that dotted his torso, instead picking up the pudding again and stuffing himself to the finish.
Hermione got up, rummaged around his desk drawers, and found a tincture of hazel to put on the red marks.
He was startled by his ministrations, but was at the point where he had to pause for breath between bites, so he didn’t say anything.
He started outright panting as he neared the bottom of the pan.
“It’s… it’s too much,” he moaned, laying back on the pillows, “I’m so… so full. More milk, please?”
She gave him the tumbler back, and he drank two full glasses, though it took him a great deal of effort to get them down; in the end, he had to take little sips.
“You’re doing so well,” Hermione said. “Just a bit more, now.”
He nodded, and looked about ready to fall asleep. “I know,” he said lamely, and he yawned, which turned into another burp, which he stifled far less subtly. Embarrassed, he glanced at her, and she just patted the top of his tummy as reassurance.
“How can I get you to finish?” Hermione asked, and Severus looked at her with such a painful grimace, she knew it was nearly time.
“We’re almost there,” she said, “come on, Sev. You helped demolish the dark lord, certainly you can finish your cake.”
He looked like he was going to start laughing, but then he looked like he was going to throw up if he started laughing, so he just groaned and rubbed his belly. “Don’t… don’t make me laugh,” he warned her.
“I won’t again,” she promised. “Here.”
She picked up the tin of pudding, dragged her finger through the sauce, and held it to Severus’ lips. He sucked on it hungrily, until it was clean, and he sighed in contentment.
This was going to be easier than she expected.
She did this a grand total of twenty-three times, and the entire bowl was clean.
Severus, however, was unmovable. He looked like he was about to be sick any moment, and Hermione implored him to recline and relax, and she rubbed his overtaxed tummy with vigorous motions.
“How was that?” she asked Severus as he stared at her through nearly-closed eyelids.
“Wonderful,” he affirmed, “as usual.”
His breathing proceeded to get slower, and then finally it was clear he had fallen asleep. Hermione snuffed out the candles in the room with a swift hand, then accio’ed one of the throws from the sofa, and draped it over them, with some extension spells of course.
Then, she cuddled up to him, making herself the big spoon as she fit her body against his, and draped her hand over his belly, to conveniently massage it as she drifted off, too.
The weeks rolled by with relative ease after that long, tumultuous weekend. Hermione found herself making a frustrating amount of progress on her weight gain, partially because of the stress they had gone through over the course of that weekend of October. It took her several days to acquire equilibrium again, despite their delicious play on Sunday evening.
But two weeks later, a stone’s throw from Halloween, she came to a breakthrough, and it was joyous and sexy.
It was a Saturday morning. She had gained significantly less than her goal of two pounds a day - in two weeks she had put on scarcely ten pounds. Her hopes of gaining a hundred pounds come Christmas were, she feared, long gone.
She had been working a bit too hard, Severus told her, on the conference, and she wasn't exactly putting her teaching on the side burner either. She was preparing her students hard for the upcoming NEWTS and OWLS, which seemed like they were coming up in a shorter time than not, and that meant extra hours grading, providing a revision group, and more. While Severus seemed to eat more the more stressed he was, she found herself eating less because she was so frantically busy.
Severus, once or twice, mentioned his potions, but she frowned and refused them. Her weight gain was not going to be sustainable unless it was natural, she knew, and she didn't want to come by her added voluptuousness by what she felt would be cheating.
But one Saturday her luck seemed to change.
She awoke to the sound of water running in the bathroom. It was warm where she was in bed - in fact, she felt like someone had thoughtfully cast a warming charm on her - but with enough effort she managed to shake it off. The fire was in embers, quietly emanating a cozy heat, and it sounded like Severus was running a bath.
She went to the bathroom and knocked. "Enter," he said, his voice echoey on the marble.
She went inside and was wrapped in steam. Severus was in the shallow end of the enormous bathtub, only partly submerged as the water ran. He had his glasses on and his computer positioned on a stool within reach of him. He lay on his side, his chin propped on the rim of the tub, and his dry hand scrolled on the trackpad. His other hand was hidden beneath the bubbling water, which, at a mere foot deep at that part, was enough to obscure everything lower than his breasts. The water lapped at these gently, teasingly.
Hermione smiled and cast a hand over her body absently. "Room for one more?" she asked, and he nodded, clearly in a good humor.
“It's bigger on the inside,” he said, and she slipped into the foaming water, which was a beautiful aquamarine color, the shade of a chlorinated swimming pool. It smelled like the ocean, serenely briny. The bubbles were magnetic to her skin, attaching themselves to her in a protective ring.
The tub was indeed bigger than it looked - magic was trippy that way - and Hermione put her legs around him and pressed her crotch against his squishy wet bottom. He shivered slightly as she moved her dry hands gently down his arms, inching like spiders; her hands disconnected around where his fleshy upper arms ended at the elbows, and her hands floated through the air to land at his sumptuous love-handles, which she grasped fervently, stroking his taut skin, which was flushed with the heat of the bath.
She ground against him, then submerged her hands in the water to follow the curve of his belly from the thigh to the unreachable penis.
Try as she might, there was no way her hands could meet when they were tight around his circumference. She put that down to both his massive size, but also the amount of pudge she'd put on herself, particularly in the area of her breasts and belly.
But she could, if she leaned far enough, and was willing to wrap along his hip line rather than his belly, still get at his member from this position. It was awkward and ungainly, but her hand dove beneath the ponderous overhang of fat and could grasp his balls in her hand, though just barely.
He turned his head back to look at her, and his eyes were full of lust and pleading.
“Let's try this a different way,” she said, and she motioned for him to turn around. He pushed his computer away, and she got a glimpse of some intriguing photographs. Mermaids, it so happened, mermaids with large creamy bellies and breasts, all of them with beautiful hair that floated around them in the water.
"Well," Hermione said with a smirk, gesturing at the computer, "is this the mood you're in?"
"A bit," he replied, his face reddening, but there was a hint of a smile on his face. "The Slytherin’s common room always had its...point of intrigue, for me, in this way."
Hermione nodded, and they recalibrated their position in the bath. He slipped from the shallower depth and disentangled himself from her grasp, moving towards the deeper edge of the bath. "Come," he purred.
The water was deep enough and broad enough that it might have been more efficient to swim, though not so deep that she couldn't stand on the floor and still breathe. It was about four feet deep at its lowest point. Like the swimming pools Hermione had grown up with at her local muggle community center, it had places to sit carved out of the wall, and even when the water was off, it created a marvelous series of waves automatically, gentle and relaxing.
Severus sat himself on one of the ledges of the tub, and one hand attached immediately to his cock. Hermione brushed it away and took his cock and balls into her own hands, and in response, his own hands moved to part her labia and play with her clit. The water made his hands silky, and she gasped as he brushed her, over and over.
Her face must have drained of color as she felt her body writhe with pleasure, and she felt her head go woozy with the orgasm.
"Relax," he said, and disconnected her hands from his parts, - his dick was as hard as a dragon’s toe - “just enjoy it."
She felt herself go numb with relaxation, and as she let herself relax, she found her legs floating up.
"Perfect," Severus intoned, and once she was floating completely flat, he separated her legs a little more. His touch was almost electric, and she was fascinated at how his tongue moved so ravenously over her skin.
She sank a little bit into the water as he indulged her, her body involuntarily flexing with rigidity, and he followed, his head ducking underwater for a concerning amount of time until she realized he must be using a bubble head type of charm. He finally released her and she panted gratefully as the stillness seeped into her. The water lapped around her body and she floated, relaxed and unmoving.
"That was brilliant," she slurred, breathing deeply the aromatic air. Bubbles began to emerge in her crevices in unexpected ways, and she shivered and stood straight.
"Thanks," he said, his smile shy and obliging, and she couldn't help but grab him forcefully and smother him in hot, careless kisses, ignited by his efforts.
He seemed momentarily bewildered, but kissed her back just as ardently after a brief second of hesitation. His lips were wet with water, his face and hair drenched, and she ran her hand through his long tresses stuck together though they were, and she toyed with them as she enjoyed him.
Gradually her hands started moving lower, and her head too, pausing to suck temptuously at his nipples, so naughtily positioned on the thick slabs of his breast meat. He moaned as she did so, and her hand roamed across his stretch-marked belly, which was like silk in the sudsy water. It was beyond pleasurable to touch, and she found herself becoming fiercely turned on again. One of her hands wandered to her clit, which she stroked ferociously, and she began to come again, leaving her charge unattended with guilt.
"Gods," he murmured, and he reconnected her hand with his aching, ramrod member, which she took reluctantly - her hand grabbed at him with the same fierceness she needed inside her, and she stroked with the same viciousness with which she wanted to be penetrated.
He proceeded to grab her head and, purposefully, he gently shoved it in a downward way.
The urgentness of his request was not lost on her, but sucking dick underwater was not something she was prepared to do without significant aid. "Spell me?" She asked, and with a pass of his hand over her face, she felt a gasp of breathlessness emerge in her throat and she plunged underwater. She was able to breathe there, and she took a moment to recuperate. Then she saw that her vision was clear, as if she were wearing goggles, and severus' cock ached meaningfully, begging for mercy. Sev was obligingly making room for her face by holding up the massive poundage of his front.
So delicious. Her face went straight for deep throat - she had, after all, researched this years ago out of a desire to be Better Than Lavender at sexing Ron - and fortunately his cock wasn't so long that she gagged on it, like Ron’s always had made her do. She was indeed highly satisfied with his feel in her mouth, the water giving his cock the texture of a massive tongue. Sometimes, though she wasn't entirely sure how she managed it, as she stroked him with her mouth, her lips would grace his succulent pubic fat, which would make him visibly shudder every time. She did her best to jiggle it with every stroke, one hand grasping the base of his cock and pressing deeply into his pillow like fat there.
Also his balls. They were enormous, and looked strangely bigger underwater. She jostled them warmly like birds eggs, clasping them and stroking them. She felt thrilled to be there, so close to him in the morning.
Then his muscles convulsed with a definitiveness, and she began to work more vigorously, bracing herself for the final push. Victory came swiftly, squirting in her mouth, and she collected it and spit it out into the water discreetly when he pulled himself out of her mouth.
She came up again for air, gasping, eyes blurry as though she was underwater. he had his head rolled back. She tapped him and touched her throat, and he released her from the spell that made her breathe above water like she was under, and vice versa.
"Clever spell," she murmured when she had her breath back. "Where'd you get it?"
He grinned and shook his head, letting out a soft moan. "Clever girl," he murmured, panting for breath, "give me a moment to recover."
She was not planning on doing anything of the sort, and she climbed out of the bath and grasped one of the warm Slytherin-green towels that presented themselves to her. "Time to be productive," she said, wrapping one gingerly around her self, and one around her mass of bodacious hair. She smiled seductively at him as he looked wearily back.
"Don't forget," he said with a grumpy petulance, "that I have twenty years and a hundred pounds on you."
"Well," Hermione said with a laugh, "I thought we were going to work on that last part."
He sighed, with faux aggrievance, and he hoisted himself up out of the bath with trembling arms. "You're shameless," he said, his thick feet slapping the tile mercilessly, and wiped himself off with a towel, then thrust himself into a luxurious silk robe that, Hermione noticed, actually tied around him as intended, with room to spare.
"You won't be able to fit in that for long," she said with a melodic teasing voice, and he responded by grabbing her around the waist from behind, with a ferocity that made her clit beg to be touched again.
Pressed close against him like she was, she heard him whisper in her ear, in a voice so low and seductive that he must have imported it from hell, Severus murmured, "When I'm done with you, neither will you."
"Fuck," Hermione whimpered, and looked around for a convenient place to lay down and get herself off. She decided the fluffy frieze bath mat would suffice, and she unravelled her towel and spread it across the tile. Then, putting her beautifully-formed behind on the rug, she lay upon her makeshift bed. The warm dampness of the water residue in the towel was a balm on her back, and the marble tile of the floor was cold on her heels. She spread her legs apart anyway.
Severus didn't need to be told what to do, and he knelt down and eased himself into the place between her legs, putting his knees on the mat. His robe came slightly unfurled, the belt riding up his belly, exposing his delicate scarred flesh and thick thighs. He automatically used one hand to try and readjust his robe, but it was pretty much futile while his other hand was occupied in Hermione's vagina. She needed very little persuasion to come heavily under his practiced hand, and her body bucked with pleasure.
She was soon panting and spent, her body glowing with the rush of hormones and fresh orgasm. "Beautiful," she murmured happily, and Severus eased himself up from the floor with surprising agility.
"Altogether too much before breakfast," he said grumpily, extending his hand to help her rise, but she knew he was joking. "Come on, my dear, calories wait for no man."
"It's true," she said with a smirk, "though a good fucking always makes me ravenous."
"A fine thing, too," he said, "since we've wasted so many calories working so hard this morning."
"I'll make them up, no problem," Hermione intoned giddily, and unwrapped the towel from around her hair - it had gotten loose in their exertions - and encased her body in it. It was smaller than the other towel, and it barely came together around her waist. She grabbed a pin from the dresser and closed it, at the top, but The rest of her body was visible in the wide split that followed her growing pear shape.
He drank in the view appreciatively. "You'd better," he purred, placing a hand on her growing roll of belly fat, his thumb slipping down until he grabbed it and heaved it in an upwards motion. It overfilled his hand and jiggled invitingly, sending a sensitive shiver through her body, but didn't have enough flesh behind it to be lifted; it wasn't quite yet an overhang like he had. "Wouldn't want to wake up tomorrow with a skinny Minnie in my arms. You're quite small still."
"Then let's feed me up," Hermione said, and grabbed his hand and marched out of the room, him following meekly.
Severus and Hermione seated themselves down to a breakfast that was of distressing beauty.
"I can't possibly finish all this," pleaded Hermione as she watched the table magically become laden with more and more food. "This is a lot, Severus."
"Your at least make an effort to try, witch," said Severus comfortably, easing himself into his favorite chair. His arse filled it well - as he settled himself down, the pads of buttock fat jiggled beneath him, distinctly sloshing the rest of his body backwards and forwards with the tiniest of motions. It was like he was settling in the middle of a voluminous water bed.
"You've been putting some on," Hermione observed, "you'll have to help me out."
He flushed red as he lay a hand on top of his belly. "I certainly intend to," he said with an arched eyebrow.
The robe he wore was the right size while standing, but while sitting it was tightly clinging to him, revealing the jiggly buttery mountain that was his bloated tum. Every motion he made, it wobbled just a bit. Readjusting in his chair, shifting his weight on his buttocks, made his fat slosh around so appealingly.
He was fit to burst, she thought with a flush rising on her own cheeks, her lady-boner becoming painful.
He took up his fork and, not breaking eye contact with her, began to slice into a stack of hot cakes as broad as his round face.
She smiled, and took up her own utensils. Time for carbohydrates of her own - her preference was for salty to start, and she brought forward a platter of bacon croissants.
One of them flew out of her reach before she could grasp it, and she saw Severus mopping up his plateful of extra syrup with the pastry.
"How'd you eat all those so fast?" she demanded, her heart racing as she saw his hot cakes were gone.
He just grinned with a supercilious look. "Now I've sated myself for the moment, it's time to help you," he said, stuffing the rest of the croissant in his mouth.
Hermione sat back and let him approach her. She let her legs spread wide as she relished the feeling of her thigh fat wobbling beneath her. What was it about thigh fat that made her feel so...expansive? Voluptuous?
She realized it as soon as she saw the way he strode unsteadily from his side of the table to hers. He tried to mask it with his usual gliding stride, but she could tell he was subtly more unsteady, just a touch more waddley. Increased poundage was to blame, she imagined. It was probably time for her to weigh him and get a sense of how much man she had to fuck her.
Yes, he took up just a bit more space with every new pound he added to his vast frame, and every inch looked so natural and becoming on him that she could barely remember how he looked during her old school days.
Hermione shuddered as he laid his thick face in the crook between her neck and clavicle, and just breathed heavily in her hair.
"What do you want?" he whispered. His voice was hoarse, and he pressed himself against her side. A rising erection got her attention, though it wasn't full fledged given their wholehearted efforts earlier.
Hermione reached for the urgently-haranguing cock and clasped her hand around its softness, wrapping the silken cloth of Severus’ robe around it.
“I want to be the fattest bitch you ever fucked,” she said, the words rolling out of her mouth easily as she pressed her ample side against him. She didn’t think she had much of a sadistic streak, but sometimes the mood struck her.
“Curses,” he murmured in agony, wrapping his arms around her and pressing her tighter against him. “You know how to tease me.”
“And so do you know how to tease me,” agreed Hermione, and she grabbed at Severus’ hands and removed them from her person. “Be useful, my dear, or be gone.”
Not needing to be told twice, Severus settled his large arse onto the arm of her chair, straddling it with his thick slabs of thighs. His right one jostled joyfully against her, contained beneath the silk but tightly pressed against it. She pressed against him, helping him balance, and opened her mouth expectantly.
“I know you don’t want potions to increase the size of your stomach,” Severus said, his voice soft and steely, “but how about charms? Spells?”
Hermione grinned. “Have you been experimenting?”
He nodded, his long hair fanning across his plump and ruddy cheek. “A bit. Nothing particularly mind-blowing. A charm to subvert the gag reflex, for one thing, and another to permit the expansion of the jaw and throat as needed to accommodate food.”
Hermione felt uncomfortable, and started imagining cartoons where the mouths of the characters would get bigger and bigger.
“Show me,” she said, “I want to see you use it first.”
He grinned shyly. “You seem to find every conceivable excuse for me to eat, my darling.”
“Don’t tell me you don’t like it,” she purred in response, her face warming with a blush.
He just smirked in response, and with a quick wand-tap on his throat and chin, he lay down his wand and took up a basket of crumpets instead.
“And now,” he said, and lifted the basket to his mouth, “the demonstration.” He tilted his head back, and, without further ado, poured the crumpets into his mouth. The movement was gentle and slow, as was to be expected from a potions-master used to tipping substances into cauldrons in a controlled fashion. And somehow each crumpet, nearly the size of Severus’ hand, managed to wend its way into his mouth. It wasn’t as if his mouth was visibly growing larger, at least not that Hermione could tell.
But, ah, his stomach was. With a whole basket of crumpets in his belly, he settled back against the chair for support, and rubbed the bloated top of his belly with care.
“That… don’t do that with dry carbohydrates,” he said with a groan, “they expand so much in the stomach, so quickly, that there’s no room for anything else.”
“But they do digest easier,” Hermione said, her hand settling into a comfortable place just below Severus’ heavy breasts, and she began to massage him gently.
“Oh Merlin,” Severus half-groaned, half-growled, “Oh, minx. You distracting wench. We’ll never get you up to your weight goal if every time I try and feed you up, you turn the tables on me.”
“True,” Hermione said, and pinched Severus’ ample love-handle tenderly. “But you’re so fun to feed.”
“I suppose I do play the part of willing participant,” he responded begrudgingly, and then, with a heaving sigh, he sat forward. “Would you like to try this series of spells?”
Hermione looked at him. His face was sweaty, and he wiped it with his sleeve. Her hand hadn’t left the cozy place where it’d made its home, caressing his flesh through his quality robe.
“You know what,” she said, and let out a breath - along with her sense of dignity - “I would like to go ahead and use some potions. I do have a goal, and while I’d prefer for this all to go along naturally, it seems as if I’m being silly by holding out.”
“But you were worried about the lack of permanence,” Severus said, his face contorting with question. “About deflating, so to speak.”
“Let’s confront that once we come to it,” Hermione said with a tone of finality. “For the moment, I would like to try anything and everything we can. We have a goal. I’m scarcely 183 pounds at this point. I’d like to reach 324 within approximately two months. We have a hundred and forty-odd pounds to put on in that time.”
“And, again,” Severus drawled, seemingly recovered from his stiff bout of pain from the crumpets, “why that number in particular?”
Hermione’s face crinkled with delight. “A wager I made with Ron. Also,” she said, a smirk coming onto her face, “that’s how much you weighed at the beginning of this month. You’ve surpassed that well by now, haven’t you?”
Snape just rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to answer. His newest stretch marks were telltale signs of his gluttony.
“We’ll start with what we already know has worked in the past,” Hermione said, her bossiness coming to the forefront. “We have experimented with the expansion potion, and the pain suppressant potion. We’ll use both of those now, in the amounts I previously used.”
She paused. “Last time we used the potions, I gained ten pounds afterwards. All of that went straight to my beautiful growing gut.” She patted it fondly, and Severus’ hand began to wander towards it, his thumb sinking below her not-quite-hangy-overhang and grasping her belly fat firmly. “I’m not entirely sure if we managed just to do that in one day, or if that happened over the course of that week.”
He looked thoughtful. “I think it’s possible that you gained, perhaps, a full five to seven pounds during that session we had. The remainder, I believe, came from the rest of the week.”
“Excellent,” Hermione said, and summoned a piece of parchment from her desk. “So, if I calculate this correctly…”
She did some brief mental math, then smiled.
“We have to fill me up like that nearly every day until Christmas, but we shall get there. A hundred and forty pounds in about sixty days means I should gain between two to three pounds a day. If we stuff me like we did that one time every day between then and now, we’ll have met the goal.”
Severus’ eyes were wide. “You don’t mean you’ll actually go through with this so seriously?” he said, his hand retreating, his eyes somewhat wild with worry. “There may be serious repercussions to such rapid gain, Hermione.”
She smirked. “Better do it now, then, while I’m young and relatively fit. My body will adapt better. It’ll be like training,” she mused, “or studying.” Her eyes lit up. “Could we call them lessons?”
“Oh gods,” Snape cursed, shaking his head, “that I cannot do, Hermione. We will never, ever, ever, play around with that dynamic. Never.”
“Just thought I’d ask,” Hermione responded, feeling a twinge of sadness at his vehemence. Playing with the teacher/student dynamic was deeply appealing to her, all the more so because he resisted it so.
“So in any case,” she said, trying to remain bouyant, “enough dicking about. Let’s get started on this and get it over with, so I can get back to grading. I’ve got so much revision to do with these children.”
“Understood,” Severus said, always responsive to her need to grade. He was full of gratitude, she knew, about not having to do it himself any longer. “Let’s commence.”
As per their success last time, he administered the exact quantity of twelve drops of the expansion potion, setting it aside for once she finished her first successful stuffing. And then, she commenced with the eating, using the new charms he’d tested.
Oh, it was heavenly to be able to inhale hot cakes and eggs and bacon without a care in the world for chewing or tasting. No, this was serious eating, not even for the pleasure of it, but for the delayed anticipation of a future deliciously plump body.
Ah yes, she mused to herself, one might even call this *weight training.*
She slurped as much as she could down, and then settled back in her chair with an ‘oof.’ Severus, his own belly starting to sag and swell as his carbs digested, reassured her by giving her the water to drink. All at once, her belly flooded with room, and the enhanced stretching capacities were exciting to fill.
Oh, despite herself, she enjoyed herself. Severus summoned towards her an enormous coffee cake, covered in sweet crumble and oozing with warm chocolate bits. With the new charm, she lifted the entire thing and put it in her mouth. How it worked she couldn’t quite say, but the food was successfully inside her mouth, and she chewed it, and swallowed it, without any difficulty.
To cut the cloying sweetness, he offered her a pitcher of fresh orange juice. Then, after a moment, he had a realization.
“Wait,” he said, and heaved his enormous buttocks off the chair and went to the kitchen, his tread heavy as he went. Soon he returned with a pound of sugar. With a deft hand, he opened the top, and poured it in.
Hermione grinned. “Might as well get the extra calories in,” she said with a smirk. “Well done, darling.”
He grinned in the way he often did when he was doing something she thought was kind, but he thought was selfish. She didn’t protest, and instead simply drank down the picture in a few enthusiastic glugs.
“Excellent,” she said, and paused as Severus wiped her face with a fine linen cloth. “Now some more meat, my dear.”
He glanced about, and then gathered up a platter of kidneys. While not Hermione’s favorite breakfast item, they certainly were filling and fattening, so she swallowed those down and let them settle into her expansive belly.
“This is becoming less and less squishy,” she said with delight, drawing her hand over her belly, so taut and tight it appeared as if she were pregnant. “I’m enjoying this a lot, my dear.”
“Glad,” Severus replied thickly, clearing his throat.
Her hand rustled against his silk gown as it slipped down, and she found his cock growing hard beneath it.
“Keep at it,” she said with a sense of deep satisfaction, “we haven’t stuffed me senseless yet.”
He nodded and, like a good servant, he brought forward several options for her next enjoyment - more of that heavenly strawberries with cream, as well as a platter of overstuffed sausages, and a large basket of hot biscuits.
Oh, the biscuits would always be her first choice. She grabbed them and shoveled one after another down her expanded throat. It felt so good to just shove bite after bite down, and she felt the dense fatty carbs swell in her belly.
The entire two dozen soon was consumed, and oh, she was growing full finally.
“Sausage,” she grunted, feeling every bit a pig ready to be slaughtered, and Severus brought bite after bite to her open and willing mouth as she swallowed them. Each bit brought her a little bit closer to fullness, a little bit closer to completion.
And then, finally, there was only one.
“Strawberries,” she said, waving away the final sausage. Severus nodded and grabbed the strawberries. She couldn’t be bothered to say or do any more, so he spooned the thick mixture into her mouth, and she swallowed greedily, envisioning how every bite was going to combine to create a magical mixture of fat that would soon be draping over her body like plush and silk.
Then, finally, she was done with these also, and she strained her neck to look into Severus’ eyes. He was glistening with sweat, and as she looked at him with askance in her eyes, he pressed his hard member against her. He’d recovered quite a lot, and was ready to fuck her again, there was no question about that.
He began to tug away at his robe, and it unfolded around him, slipping to the floor as he steadied himself. Hermione reclined back in her chair, experiencing the weightlessness that came with being so badly overstuffed, and she cooed at him, pointing one pudgy finger at the final sausage.
He looked at her and grabbed it, and raised it to her mouth to bite.
“No,” she mumbled, and stifled a belch. She pointed at her nether regions, which had been neglected this entire time. “There.”
He chuckled, and with one hand around his own cock, he took the cock-sized sausage and, with a quick glance to check in with her, he thrust it inside her wet vagina, which sucked at it hungrily.
He didn’t need to be told how to move it, or where to try and hit. He had quite a bit of practice at this point, and she moaned and groaned with the augmenting pleasure until she climaxed, her entire body forcefully shaking with the experience of orgasm.
She came three times more before she ordered him, with a flick of her hand, to be done with it, and then he took the sausage into his hand and looked at her expectantly.
“It’s calories,” she murmured, “but I can’t eat another bite.”
“I won’t let them go to waste,” he said with a darkly passionate kiss of her cunt, and he ate the sausage himself, covered though it was with her juices.
Oh, she felt so lovely at the sight of this! Particularly since he went straight back to her cunt once he was done with the sausage, which had only served to whet his appetite for her wet juices. He licked and sucked, and she whimpered and begged, and his fingers made their way up her vagina, sticking together so well that she came again right then and there.
Then, with a swift motion, he helped her up. “Come, my vixen,” he said with a dark grin, “you’d best come with me.”
Then he led her to the bedroom, and proceeded to fuck her precious brains out.
The days rolled by, and Hermione put in the requisite amount of effort. Severus, as her feeder, went above and beyond the call of duty. He fetched and carried for her, ensured that there was never a moment where her fingers were lacking a nearby full plate, and gently encouraged her once she was already full.
All of the talk about gaining, all the time, made Hermione heady, and she found herself masturbating with greater regularity - her only exercise, Severus observed with a smirk. She always needed to get off after breakfast, and almost always needed to after dinner. Once in a while, Severus would even indulge her in a post-lunch coitus, which left her even hornier and hungrier for the evening's repast.
Severus, in turn, even helped her with grading sometimes, along with the preparations for the conference.
The night of Halloween was a welcome deviation from their rigorous schedule of several days. Classes were off for the day, since the students could scarcely focus, and Hermione and Snape made an appearance in the Great Hall for the holiday feast.
"Hm," McGonagall said, his eyes wide as she looked over both of her staff potioneers. Hermione was donned in a skintight dress that left nothing to the imagination. At a squishy ten pounds heavier since last Saturday, and a full twenty heavier since last time she'd spoken with the headmistress, Hermione was definitely a sight to see.
Severus also was straining at the belt, sweat on his brow from lugging around his excessive stomach, and McGonagall swallowed her disapproval. Both of them seemed puzzlingly intent on eating themselves silly, and while McGonagall didn't like it, she supposed she had to accept it. What was the alternative?
Still it was disgusting the way they flaunted their sexuality - neither at all ashamed as Hermione subtly expanded Severus' chair when his rear overflowed the wooden arms uncomfortably. He sighed contentedly, and squeezed hermione's own burgeoning rump, which was blossoming into a becoming the sweetest set of peaches west of Glasgow.
Both of them couldn't keep their hands off the appetizer bread rolls, and their basket had to be refilled before McGonagall could remark on the situation.
All she could do, she realized, was provide a stern glare whenever she managed to catch either of their eyes.
Not that she was able to do so much. Severus, for his part, when he managed to tear his eyes away from the feast of food before them, tantalizing them all, his eyes were devouring Hermione, in particular her breasts and expansive stomach. He clearly was under her spell, and his eyes were fierce and protective of her, but also penetrating with lustful hunger.
Hermione, slightly more demure and subtle in her admiration of him, stared contentedly over the heads of her students, but her eyes were glazed over and far away, and McGonagall soon saw why - the girl's hand was deep under the table in Snape's lap.
This would not do, but there was suddenly a clinking of glasses as her deputy headmaster Flitwick called the hall to order.
And then she was standing, staring at all of the students who were alternately bored or irritated. She glanced at the other members of the head table, and saw that Hermione's hands were chastely folded over her belly.
She didn't notice that Severus' hands were now strangely absent from the table.
With some relief, but also some worry, McGonagall gave a bland speech that lasted far too long in everyone else's opinion but her own, she knew. But no matter. They could wait a little more to remember that after Halloween was all hallow's day, and everyone could do with a reminder to not overdo it tonight.
This message, she knew, would fall on deaf ears, not the least of which would be her poor examples of potions masters, past and present.
She was rewarded with the knowledge of being right as she regarded them begin to eat. Severus didn't even bother to ladle himself any beef stew, simply placing a whole tureen in front of him and using the serving spoon as his own. Hermione, again, was more subtle, and placed an entire loaf of egg bread between them, out of reach of anyone else, and proceeded to use it to sop up some of the sauce from his bowl. Too quickly the entire loaf had disappeared, mostly into her belly.
Once the stew was extinguished; Severus settled back in his seat to rub his belly, and Hermione took an entire tray of pumpkin flat cakes and prepared them, apparently for him - wrapping them into rolls with the aid of sticky apple butter and cream.
Then, surprisingly, Severus sat up and, with a look of intense concentration, refilled Hermione's wine glass and fed her one of the cloyingly sweet rolls she had prepared.
Oh! To watch this endeavor was strangely heartening for Minerva, who liked to see Severus looking self important and useful. He certainly had a purpose now, it seemed - and it was to take care of Hermione.
It occurred to Minerva that Hermione might be pregnant. The amount of care and attention he was paying to her, after all, was beautiful in a way that seemed to evoke parental themes. The way Severus rubbed Hermione's belly also seemed to be suggestive of this. Of course it didn't occur to McGonagall that she'd witnessed Hermione's hands ghosting across Severus' belly earlier that evening, and hadn't come to the same conclusion. Minerva was, in fact, a bit old fashioned.
Indeed, Hermione's bulging belly and the couple's intensive attention towards said tummy seemed conclusive enough. Hermione was clearly pregnant. It didn't make sense otherwise.
McGonagall was attuned enough to realize that Severus and Hermione were unconventional enough a couple that they might consider having a child before marriage or something. So she just shook her head - Hermione was certainly eating more than the fair share her child deserves - but at least it made some sense to her.
In either case, she passed them a plate of roasted figs wrapped in bacon - one of her own favorite treats - and gave the couple a half-hearted encouraging smile.
Her eyes widened as she watched Severus eat about half of the delicacies while Hermione glared sternly at him, but he dutifully changed his course in due time in order to stuff his partner's face instead.
"Careful now," she said, her voice carrying clearly across the table. "Mind that this is the sort of food that really sticks to the ribs, Severus."
He grinned at her - grinned! Severus Snape was smiling! - and he said with a singsong voice, "Minerva, do you think my ribs will even notice something more sticking to them, at this rate?"
Then, with a laugh at her horrified eyes, he slapped his belly, sending it jiggling with a horrific motion that reminded her just how big he'd gotten.
Ruefully, she looked away as he laughed again, his bark strident and forceful, and then she watched him from the corner of her eye, more discreetly the rest of the dinner. He was truly gorging himself, she saw, it wasn't just his exhaustive appetite. He was going all out, as if to keep paces with Hermione.
Hermione. Oh the poor dear had tended towards plump towards the end of her school years, but nothing nearly so thick as she seemed to be headed. Watching as the girl scooped up another pint-sized dollop of ice cream from the central platters and swallow it all with a few hefty bites, McGonagall found herself feeling slightly queasy. The girl seemed bound and determined to eat and eat and eat, without stopping until she had truly met her limit.
McGonagall looked around to the students at the tables. None of them seemed to be paying attention, she thought at first, but then she saw a crowd of young Hufflepuffs that were gazing at Hermione and Severus with fascination in their eyes.
Oh dear lord, McGonagall thought. She hoped they weren’t about to embark on their own gluttonous journey in imitation of the staffmembers.
Hermione and Severus were, to McGonagall’s surprise, the first staffmembers to leave the hall. Their bloated tummies protuding before them, they made their excuses independently of one another - Severus left first, easing himself up out of his expanded chair with a groan, then disappearing outside the doors to the Great Hall - and then Hermione following, disappearing after him.
Both of them had, McGonagall observed, stuffed their pockets full of pastries and candy before leaving.
She sighed, and trudged back up to her office, feeling a bit full herself. She, however, had certainly not overdone it to the same degree that the couple had.
She went to her desk, and waved her hand over it. Unlike Albus, who had kept most of his organizational plots in his head, Minerva used a chalkboardlike configuration for her lists. It meant she was much more efficient, actually, than Albus ever was, since he actually tended to forget things that he didn’t think were important. But part of being the headmistress, in her opinion, was tending to all things, including those she felt were unimportant.
There was something on her chalkboard that she’d been worried about fulfilling. Now she could cross it off her list.
Albus’ portrait in the headmistress’ office woke up from its slumber as she entered.
“Minerva,” said Albus with a happy tone, “good to see you. And how are you this fine Halloween evening?”
“Terrible,” confessed Minerva, and went straight to her chalkboard. “We don’t need to worry about THIS anymore, Albus.”
She fiercely crossed off the list - “Help Severus Find A New Direction For His Life.”
Albus just chuckled. “And how did you manage to do this, Minerva?”
McGonagall rolled her eyes. “You don’t even want to know, Albus. You don’t even want to know.”
He just grinned at her with his twinkling eyes, and she rolled her own at him.
“You already know, don’t you,” she said with exasperation, settling herself down in her office.
Albus didn’t say anything for a moment, then said with a smile, “I know Horatio Galler, who lives in Hermione Granger’s room. Kind old gentleman. Likes to keep me informed of the latest news as it arises. Particularly related to the proclivities of one potions master researcher.”
Minerva threw a stale lemon drop at Albus’ portrait in response.
Hermione and Severus had done their best to be good for the date of Halloween. They'd woken up late, luxuriating in the rare holiday.
"You will not be working today," Severus said sternly as Hermione rose and started reaching for the parchment and quill she had left on the bedside table. "No. I beg of you. Leave off for just the day." He grabbed her arm with a fierce grin and peppered her hand with kisses.
Hermione laughed. Sometimes Severus could be so immensely charming.
"Fine," she conceded, "but we already decided we weren't going to eat much today until the feast. How should we occupy our time?"
There was a glint in his eyes. "Let's go out," he said, "the day promises to be a beautiful one."
Hermione smiled, and nodded.
"Also," he said pointedly, "the exercise will do you good, young lady. You've been getting a bit round lately."
He pressed his fingers into her stomach, his false scorn barely hiding his glee and lust.
"Hmph," Hermione said, her fingers running through her abundant messy curls, "Language like that, Severus, and you won't be getting any satisfaction for that egregious cock of yours until after the feast."
He moaned, his hand drifting down to address his morning wood affectionately. "No, you wouldn't, witch," he bit out, the sadistic pleasure of being denied emerging in his tone.
"Oh certainly I would," she said, running her fingers over his thick thighs. "Just watch me deny you the satisfaction of fucking me this morning, Severus Snape."
His moan was low and guttural, but she could hear he had already given up trying to persuade her. She'd been finding that of the two of them, Severus was the one who took the most pleasure out of pain. She wouldn't have pinned him for a sadist in a thousand years, but the way he squirmed at the very mention of not getting what he wanted was undeniable.
She ran her hands over him, making him groan with the pain of unfulfilled desire.
"Please," he begged, with a final ounce of optimism that was entirely without effort.
"No," she said. And with that she bounced up and pranced to the shower.
Severus smirked at her ruefully as she went.
She returned to find him on the phone, one hand clasping his limp cock aimlessly.
"Certainly, my love," he mumbled to his phone. "it isn't any trouble. No, none at all."
"Isn't it late in the day over there for her to be calling?" Hermione asked, and playfully squeezed his belly.
"Teasing vixen," he said, pressing the receiver against his cheek to mute his voice and turning his head towards Hermione. "Yes. It's Erika. She's had a bit of trouble with Jean-Raoul, and needs an ear."
"Take your time," Hermione said, wiping her body off. "But no ménage a un for you." She removed his hand from where it fondled his dick.
"Curses," he said, the pleasure palpable in his voice, "you deny me the simplest gratification of sexing you, and then you forbid me sex myself. And all this for what end?"
"Simply because it pleases me," said Hermione comfortably, and she bent down to dry her toes, waving her ample rump in Severus' face.
He groaned, and went back to his phone call. "Sorry, my dear. Someone is *very* distracting on my end."
Hermione grinned, taking credit with sheer delight.
"So what did you say to that?" He went on, turning back to the conversation seriously. Hermione acknowledged the change by going to her desk and cracking open a book. Reading wasn't work, after all. Even if it was information she could tie into her upcoming article…
"Mhm. I see."
Severus was actually a very good phone listener, Hermione realized as she listened to him. He would provide comments as needed, but mostly focused on empathic responses and thoughtful questions.
Maybe she didn't see it when she was interacting with him, and maybe it came out more strongly when interacting with his other girlfriend. But either way, it gave her a little fluttery feeling in her empty belly. Or maybe that was just her desire for breakfast calling. Yes, she decided her stomach growled loudly, making Severus turn his head and arch an eyebrow at her, it was her hunger.
She looked at Severus, who was looking increasingly grumpy, and she decided to go ahead and get them a spot of something. She clapped for Minty and ordered coffee, juice, and oatmeal for them both, then commenced her reading.
Severus remained on the phone with Erika until the food arrived, at which point he wished her a good morning and closed his phone.
"Oatmeal?" He play-raged, sitting himself down with a pout. "How is a man supposed to start his day on this muck?"
"McGonagall does it," hermione said with a smirk. "Good for the digestion, as she says."
He rolled his eyes, but dug in hungrily anyhow, serving himself in large spoonfuls.
He ate it all, and looked up for more. But Hermione was already sending away the rest of the tureen, and his face fell considerably.
"Did master not like it?" Minty was saying, surveying Severus' scowl warily.
"Oh no," Hermione said comfortably, "he did enjoy it. But you and the elves are not to serve him anything more until the feast tonight. Is that understood?"
The elf was worried at the way that Severus glowered, but as Hermione patted Minty’s shoulder gently, the elf scurried away, glancing back only once as she scampered.
“What,” Severus demanded, sitting with his wide legs astride, “is the meaning of this? You’re restricting me?”
“It’s just a bit of a diet, honey,” Hermione said smoothly, “and you shouldn’t be surprised. If you think I need exercise, oh darling, you need to take a look at yourself in the mirror.”
Severus growled, and looked down at himself. “What?” he said, huffily. “It’s not as though I’m *fat.*”
Hermione did her best to restrain her laughter. “Oh no, honey, I never meant to say that. Of course, of course you’re not fat. But you’d best be careful, or one day you’re going to wake up and be as big as a hippogriff!”
“Can’t a man can’t have a bit of meat on his bones without the entire country going up in arms about it?” he demanded, leaning back in his chair and looking quite smug and self-satisfied.
“A *bit* of meat?” she chortled, and stood up to embrace him. Her lips locked onto his, and her hand massaged his soft, unstuffed gut. “I think you’ve got a little more than a *bit* here, darling.”
He kissed her deeply in return, and relaxed into her massage. His stomach rumbled, and she massaged deeper, trying to help aid his digestion.
“You have got *quite* the gut, dear,” Hermione said, her fingers sinking pleasurably into his broad white flesh.
He grunted and withdrew from kissing her, and gazed down the mountainous expanse of his body. “I can still see my feet. Mostly.”
He bent over, and Hermione withdrew her hand. His entire belly squished into itself like a great ball of dough being kneaded. It was of course quite big, and quite difficult to navigate, but by spreading his legs to accommodate it, he was able to bend down well enough to peer at his feet curiously. “Well, erm, now I can.”
“Oh, love,” Hermione clucked, and patted his shoulder sympathetically as he tried to heave himself back upright. “You’re getting too big, too big indeed, tut tut. Can you even tie your shoes on your own?”
“Yes,” he said, sitting back and rubbing where his belt had pinched his supple, soft skin. “But only with magic.”
“Oh, darling,” Hermione said, with mock pity. “You’re too fat to tie your shoes yourself? For shame, for shame. You’d better keep to your diet, sweetheart, or you’re going to become as big as Slughorn.”
“How long will that take, do you suppose?” Severus asked, his smile sickly sweet with pleasure.
“It depends on how much he weighs,” Hermione responded cheerfully. “And lo, I actually happen to know.”
She stroked her own belly comfortingly as she strode to the old desk in the corner of her room. “There’s a bit of blotting paper here,” she announced, bringing back a sheet that was covered in bits of ink and scribbles, “where Slughorn was tracking his weight. This was his desk and room until he left last spring, if you recall.”
“No,” Severus said disbelievingly, his eyes wide as he dropped the act. “And you haven’t mentioned it to me before?”
“I found it earlier this year,” Hermione said, “and quite forgot about it.”
She unfolded the paper carefully and ran a pencil over the paper, shading in the indents from where Slughorn’s old writing was.
“It does appear,” Hermione said with a smirk, “that he was trying to lose weight, poor old soul. And failing miserably. Look here, he was plateauing at around 485 all through May.”
Severus’ face grew grim, and all of his good humor evaporated. “What am I?” he asked, his voice soft and worried. “Cast that charm,” he elaborated at her brief confusion.
She did, and her modified plump witch, Cozy, emerged from her wand. Cozy looked Severus from head to foot, and patted his belly warmly.
“You’ve been coming along nicely,” she cooed, and took out her measuring tape. “A plump 60 inches around your belly. What effort! And…” - she waved her wand - “A hefty three hundred and forty three pounds. Good gracious, you’ve been hungry.” She winked. “What a nice plump hunk of man for you, dearie,” she said, addressing Hermione. “
Severus did some mental calculations. “That’s about seventeen pounds in two weeks,” he said, looking stunned. “I…”
He looked at Hermione, frantic worry in his eyes, as if he’d been caught sneaking biscuits from the biscuit jar.
She smiled beatifically at him. “And how on earth is that a surprise?” she said with a radiant grin. “You’ve been eating practically nonstop, my love.”
“Ugh,” he groaned, not denying the obvious, and he looked down at himself, a little bit sad, and quite uncomfortable.
Hermione waved Cozy over to assess her, and was pleasantly surprised with the results.
“Ten pounds in less than seven days - good job dearheart,” Cozy announced happily, Beaming, she looked over at Severus again, who was experimentally cradling his empty belly, assessing its weight.
“It’s not as if it all goes there, ducky,” Cozy said with a smirk. She ran her wand along Severus’ jaw and arms, and then down to his buttocks. “You also are quite skilled at putting on weight in these areas, here.”
Severus hands went immediately to touch his squishy behind, and indeed he seemed satisfied with what he found there - for even he couldn’t help himself from squeezing at his joyfully round cheeks, which indeed, Hermione now saw, had taken the bulk of his new pounds.
Hermione crept up behind him and, without further adieu, began to frot against him, her clit begging for stimulation against his soft behind.
“Ai,” exclaimed Severus, spinning around and catching her against his tummy before he managed to swing her into a close, squishy embrace. “None of that, now, you said we’d have to wait until after dinner.”
“But now I regret that,” Hermione pouted, “now that I know how fat you’ve gotten.”
“Ah,” Severus said with an arched eyebrow, “but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Or something like that.”
Hermione’s hand dove underneath his belly, and hefted it in her fingers. It was so soft and squishy, and she couldn’t wait to get her clit against it.
“Fine,” she said, and turned away from him after a quick kiss to the cheek. “You know why it’s a good thing that we’re eating light this morning, right?”
Severus rolled his eyes. “It tricks the body into thinking it’s starving, and then permits us to gorge ourselves even further at the feast.”
Hermione grinned. “Correct.”
“But we already are so *good* at gorging ourselves,” Severus complained, “so bloody, bloody good.”
He sighed. “Erika will scarcely recognize me. I hope she realizes what she’s put me through by putting me on medication in the first place.”
He shook his head, and went to go put on his clothes. Hermione followed suit, and they departed for a luxurious long walk out in the moors.
Autumn was proving itself to be in full swing as they trudged along through the gardens. Hermione held Severus' hand as they walked, and the sun was heavy and bright in the mid morning sky. Dry Leaves swirled around them as they walked, and shadows grew darker and longer beneath the trees and shrubs. The crunch of the leaves was almost the only sound they heard as they walked away from the castle, deeper into the woods of the forbidden forest.
"Squirrel," observed Hermione, noticing a flurry of fur scampering through the detritus of the forest.
Severus nodded. He was thoroughly out of breath - they had gone quite a distance, and some of it uphill - and at the next fallen tree he collapsed onto it, his massive tum heaving as he caught his wind.
Hermione joined him, relishing the shortness she also felt pinching at her belly, and heaved a great sigh. Her hand went, by default, to lay upon his belly, and she felt as he breathed - one, two, three - all his flesh jiggling with the effort.
"At this rate," Severus said, once he had recovered sufficiently, "I'm liable to be as big as Slughorn by March. If not sooner. Even if I only gain a single stone a month, and not two as has the data has demonstrated so far, I'll be as round as him come this time next year."
"You forget one thing," Hermione said, patting him gently on the belly, sending his jiggly mass of flesh shivering like jello. "It's not always linear, my dear. In order to get to that size, you will have to eat enough to not only gain weight, but maintain your current size. And that scales, so to speak. According to my reading."
He furrowed his brow and nodded, but did not respond otherwise.
They soon stood again, and as they continued their walk, they began talking about the conference preparations - Hermione going over her lists (which were completely memorized by now) with scrupulous attention, and Severus responding with comments and reminders.
The sun was bright, but did little to keep the chill of autumn away from them. The wind was brisk and cool, and They found their place slowing as Hermione snuggled deeper and deeper into Severus' warm tummy, until finally they were at a standstill.
"Mm," Hermione moaned, "let's change the subject, shall we?"
Severus didn't need another cue, his lips diving into hers with rapt attention, and he made liberal use of his tongue in his exertions despite his holdover heavy breathing from walking. It was actually way sexy, Hermione felt, that he needed her so badly that he couldn't be arsed to wait until he'd caught his breath. It felt as though he needed her more than breath itself, though she knew that was a fantasy.
After some minutes, he broke away from her and looked around. "I need to get off my feet," he said. "This fat arse can't hold itself up much longer."
Hermione giggled. He glared.
"This is no laughing matter," he said, his tone dark. "I'm going to fold over if I don't sit. Now."
She smiled and patted his arse, and grabbed hold of its tempting softness. "Okay," she agreed, and he made a beeline for a large flat rock.
It was cold to the touch, but they sat upon it anyways, and cuddled each other against the chill wind.
"You're so comfortable," Hermione mused, "it's going to be hard to persuade me to move."
He groaned in response. "Improbable but true," he responded, and he kissed her on the top of her head. “Why on earth do you like me?”
Then his stomach growled.
"Curses," he said, and then looked up in surprise as Hermione pressed a cookie into his palm. "What's this?" He asked, a sense of delight in his voice.
Hermione grinned. "Do you think I'd let my man go hungry?"
"It seems a bit out of character," he agreed with a snort, and he inhaled the cookie without further comment.
Then, like a keen-nosed dog, he looked at her expectantly.
Hermione feigned surprise. "What?" She asked with a smirk.
He glared at her with a sense of piteousness that was somehow as disconcerting as a Great Dane making puppy eyes
"No more," she said, hands open in innocence. "That's all I got. Just enough to get the edge off."
"No?" Severus said, then rolled his eyes. "You fail to understand how this works, Hermione," he said forcefully. "There's no such thing as getting the edge off my hunger. Such a small crumb as that only serves to whet my appetite and make it worse. Are you prepared to deal with the consequences?"
"In other words," Hermione said with a laugh, "if you give a mouse a cookie...?"
He didn't get it, and that shone in his face as he frowned with confusion.
"After your time, I suppose," she said helplessly. "Serves me right for dating a man twice as old as I am."
"What are you saying?" Severus said, his voice stern and his eyes glimmering with false affront. "My dear, have you deigned to such abuse as to calling me both fat, and old, in the same morning?"
She liked where this was going. Her subby Severus was folding away in favor of his more precocious, dommy self.
She liked that they both were switches. A lot.
"I don't mean it that way," she said, her voice growing tremulous with mock despair, "only, you can't dispute with facts, and you are so very much bigger than me, and so very much more experienced..."
"Experienced?" Severus scoffed, but he was grinning ear to ear. "I'll show you experienced."
Then with a wave of his hand, the rock became mattresslike, a soft bed of velvet, and he thrust Hermione down on it with a firm grasp. She gasped and began to breathe heavily as she felt his raging erection against her soft thigh.
Then she saw his soft, soft belly hanging over her, and the way it hung off him was so tantalizing and alluring. It was as if someone had inserted an enormous bowl of pudding under his skin and carelessly sewed it on so that it sagged heavily. When he moved, it followed, swinging pendulumlike in his wake, accentuating every movement he made.
"Oh yes," Severus said, from his crouching position over her, his manly breasts sagging and heaving with his deep stabilizing breaths, "there *will* be consequences."
Hermione whined with lust as his teeth came down on her earlobe, and he was nipping her and biting her, making her shriek with laughter and attraction.
He wanted her - desired her - and was prepared to fight to have her.
She had a momentary glimpse into her past, thinking of Ron and Harry and their silliness about her - and she realized that, yes, she did actually find that attractive. And hot. The possessiveness, the fierceness, the loyalty, the animalistic predatory eyes of a lover just wanting her...
Okay maybe that last part wasn't something Ron and Harry could manage for her. But Severus - oh he could. He could!
So much of their relationship, she realized, tied up into animalistic themes. Their singleminded attraction towards fatness was so much like woodland mammals preparing for hibernating all winter, embracing good days of plenty with gusto until the days of scarcity came again.
As Severus grabbed her by the hair and lifted her head up to kiss her all the better, she bit along his growing heavy chin and he growled, snapping her back into her role.
There was something primeval about their relationship, she decided, or maybe it was just the fact that they were out of doors that morning.
Either way, enough was enough. She reached for his tummy, which seemed tired of hanging off his bitter old bones, and massaged it, teasing him by letting her fingers wander further and further down every casual circle she made.
"Yes," Severus said with a hiss, and without a fuss flopped onto his back and closed his eyes against the sight of the trees and blue sky that shone through them.
He was so beautiful there, in his black satin waistcoat that was turning salt and pepper grey with the stretching spells it had endured, black high-collared shirt, and black wizard trousers that groused at their fruitless duties of keeping Severus' massive belly contained from the public eye. His cloak spread out behind him elegantly, and as he lay there, eyes closed expectantly, he grasped it with one fine-boned but plump hand.
"You're so immensely attractive," Hermione whispered, her hand delicately laying upon his upper thigh.
He took a deep, deep breath, as if summoning patience.
"You're not doing it," he observed, neutral of tone.
"No," Hermione said, moving her butt onto the warmth of his cloak and her legs so that she could sit cross legged.
"You're not going to," Severus said next, opening one eye drearily, like a woken dragon.
She moved herself slightly closer to him. "Delayed gratification is all the sweeter for its delay," she murmured.
"Don't quote Robinicouse at me," he snorted. "What a terrible potions master he was."
"A better philosopher than potioneer," agreed Hermione, letting her eyes wander to a falling leaf. It seemed to fall so gently on the breeze, caught by a nearly sentient wind that seemed captivated by the beautiful thing.
The air swirled around it, and it landed gently on her upper thigh.
"Don't you think the world is more sentient than we give it credit for?" Hermione mused.
He grunted, and his stomach growled.
"What do you mean?" He asked aloud.
Without replying at first, Hermione leaned over the edge of the stone and grabbed her bag to retrieve another biscuit for her lover.
Thoughtfully, she put the biscuit on the tip of his nose, touching his lip. He didn't move for a moment, didn’t even open his eyes, but she saw a glimpse of tongue experimentally creep out from between his lips. Then, with a voracious smack, he opened his mouth and entrapped the biscuit whole, leaving only crumbs.
"Please tell me there's more where that came from," he begged, wiping off his face with his sleeve and sitting up with a great effort of will.
Sitting there on the stone, she admired him - his tummy spread so beautifully across his lap it had to be considered poetry in its own right. It was too beautiful, like a flower on a cake, made with buttercream.
"No, I'm sorry," Hermione said, "that was in fact the last one."
"You minx," he said, his eyes lighting up. "I don't believe you for one second."
"Check my bag," she responded with glee.
He nodded, though looked quite suspicious, and bent down to grasp her bag. It was indeed empty of biscuits, according to what he could see. And there were no concealment charms of any sort that could be detected.
"You've got more, I know it," he said, laying back upon the cloak and raising his arm in a melodramatic sigh, "but I am too famished to contemplate how to find them."
Hermione just giggled, and grabbed him eagerly around his soft middle. Which led to more kisses. Which led to very delicious snogging. In fact, Hermione was rather surprised that they even got back to the topic they'd started at all. But as they lay there on the rock, his hand tousled her hair.
"So," he said, eyes bright and keen. "Universal sentience. Would you like to expound upon your theory?"
Hermione barely bit back herself from making the pun in "expound" more obvious than it already was, But she held her tongue, and managed to retain her dignity.
"It occurs to me that there's a concept in arithmancy that all elements of an equation have various configurations that are possible based on specific building blocks indiscernible to us," Hermione said, her giddy smile fading as she got more thoughtful. "And that same concept is used in muggle chemistry, as I'm sure you well know."
"Indeed," Severus affirmed. "Bonds, atoms, and elements."
"Precisely," Hermione said, picking at her thumbnail absently. "There are many ways that one atom can bond together to make particles, but there are not an unlimited number of ways to bond. Some elements bond together, others do not, and it has to do with which ones are compatible."
Severus nodded. His head tilted towards hers, and he gently touched his finger to her face, gazing into her eyes when she turned her head.
She kissed him tenderly on the nose.
“I’m thinking other things might be like that, too,” she murmured, and laid another kiss on his cheek. “Certain people work well with some, and not well with others. It has to do with which ones are compatible.”
He snorted, but kissed her cheek in response as well, gathering her up into his squishy lap and snuggling her close, holding her like a bundle of sticks in his arms. “Elementary, my dear Hermione.”
She didn’t notice the pun for a moment, and then she fake-slapped him in the face. He chortled and kissed her.
“So we’re talking about micro, micro parts, when we’re talking about atoms and such,” Hermione said, “but I think that elements that are a little bit larger also have similar forms of attraction. You know how in some potions, the ingredients don’t bond unless they’re facing north? Or how other ingredients simply cannot be mixed successfully, ever, even in a floating medium, like horehound and bursieweed?”
Severus was looking a bit more serious than he had been, and he nodded. “Yes,” he said, his fingers playing with the buttons on her silky bodice, “that does indeed make quite a bit of sense.”
“So for example,” Hermione went on, “this leaf, which just fell from the tree. I believe it might have some elemental attraction to me, somehow, and that’s why it landed on my lap.”
“Ah,” Severus said with a groan, “and now you’ve lost me.”
“Why,” Hermione said, “this is by far the most scientific ontology of existence I’ve ever heard of, or come up with.”
“Sure,” Severus said, shaking his head, “but, Hermione,” he pleaded, “does everything truly have to have some sort of explanation?” He paused, and looked at her with a deep sense of sadness. “Isn’t it enough to just… be?”
This was certainly a surprise to Hermione, who was certainly more likely to expect Severus Snape to demand a more rigorous explanation and then drive holes into her arguments as she presented them.
“Why,” she murmured, “of course? But I’m curious, Severus… why are you so copacetic about this? I’d have expected something else.”
“What would you expect?” Severus asked, looking genuinely puzzled.
“I… I don’t know,” Hermione flailed, “I feel like your beliefs about the universe would be far more complex than zen, that’s all.”
His face grew dark, and he dropped his arms and gazed steadily at her. “Hermione Jean Granger,” he said seriously, “I have been tortured. I have been used as a pawn in a great meaningless drama by two wizards with inflated egos who couldn’t be sure that I wasn’t disposable at a moment’s notice. I’ve been isolated by my allies, left adrift on the merest shred of doubt, and moreover have deserved every bit of abuse because I was fucked up over a girl who had told me she wasn’t interested right at the start of puberty.
“And what’s more,” he continued, “I’ve killed. I’ve even participated in darker things than killing. Am I supposed to believe that there’s some elemental attraction that my soul has towards the darkness? Am I supposed to believe that every action I’ve done has been one out of a small range of choices I had based on my chemical makeup?” He paused. “Am I supposed to believe that I can’t change, and I can’t have changed since?”
Hermione was about to argue - her theory completely allowed for mutability - but she wasn’t about to argue with the man who looked as close to tears as she’d ever seen him.
“You’re right,” she murmured, and leaned forward. “I let my fat arse get in the middle of things. I’m sorry, my dear. I didn’t think.”
“Think next time,” he said, his eyes sad and staring off in the distance.
Hermione drew herself closer to him, and his arms resumed their close embrace.
Soon they were walking again, holding hands as they crunched through the leaves and drew their cloaks more tightly around their shoulders. Severus was more quiet, less playful than before, and was clearly brooding.
“For… for what it’s worth,” Hermione said, trying to break the silence, “McGonagall said of you that you’d both changed, and not changed nearly as much as I thought. She says she saw the goodness in you long before you could see it yourself.” While it was a paraphrase, she felt like her words were capturing the spirit of the headmistress’ words.
Severus just grunted, not looking at her, but he squeezed her hand a bit more tightly.
“Let’s stop again,” he said, as he nearly tripped over a cluster of toadstools, “do you have your gloves?”
Hermione wasn’t about to be caught twice without her gardening gloves on a casual hike with Severus, so she did indeed have them.
As Severus knelt down and prepared to collect the little red things, his stomach growled again. “Dammit,” he murmured, mostly out of pretense, but Hermione, successfully surprised him by wrapping herself around him and popping another biscuit in his mouth.
“Why, if I wasn’t already down here,” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, “I’d get up and fuck you here on the forest floor, my vixen.”
“Got to keep your strength up, darling,” Hermione said with a smile, and then proceeded to get down and help him with the toadstools.
They worked together quite some time, and then Hermione realized he’d completely tricked her into doing work on a day he’d claimed to leave free of work. “Severus,” she complained, and sat herself down next to him. “I’m horny. Let’s have sex, please?”
“Here?” he asked, looking up. His forehead was shiny from the exertions, and he readjusted himself carefully. He’d been sitting on his feet as he squatted, and he clearly was regretting that choice as he unfolded himself painfully.
“Or, you know, anywhere,” Hermione said with a singsong kind of voice. “I’m happy to do it anywhere that you like, my dear.”
He looked around, winced as he moved his leg - “Pins and needles,” he explained testily - and then motioned at a boulder that wasn’t very flat. “How about there?” he asked, “it looks so round it’s nearly spherical.”
“Yeah,” Hermione said, “do you think you can actually clamber on there, though?”
He glared at her meaningfully. “Severus Snape does *not* clamber,” he said with a haughty snarl.
“Oh,” Hermione said with a palm to the forehead. “Flying. Right.”
Severus took the moment to stand up and arch his back. “What time is it?”
Hermione glanced at her watch. “Two hours before the feast.”
“Merlin,” he said, and cracked his back. “This took longer than I thought,”
“Yes,” Hermione said, and looked at the boulder. Indeed, as she looked at it, she realized why he pointed it out. It was as round and spherical as a belly, she realized, and a little bit flat on the top. Then she had an idea. “Yes,” she said again, and with an effort, she floated up on top of the rock. “Wait a moment.”
He nodded, clearly not going anywhere until his legs had recovered from their numbness, and he sat on his plump rear, tying bags of mushrooms.
Hermione, for her part, ran her wand over the rock face, wishing and transfiguring it to be something that even Severus could appreciate.
The rock became less and less granite, and more and more fleshy. Soft, grayish, pale softness began to emerge, with the dappled colors of stretch marks, shiny and grey where they'd been massaged into submission by a lazy owner. The rock began to grow softer, more squishy, and soon to touch there was nothing making it resemble a rock at all, other than the color. The thing had become a giant belly, and Hermione felt her stress melt away as she relaxed into it.
“Ready when you are,” she called to Severus, who experimentally flew a few hops, then leaped up on top of the boulder. He sank into it with a sigh of bliss.
“Oh,” he murmured, “I… Hermione, can’t we forgo our sex ban and do it, now, right here?”
“I’d say yes,” Hermione said, her smile cheeky. “But then what would be the after-dinner incentive?”
“More sex,” he said, and tried to tackle her. Hermione ducked him playfully, allowing him to fall into the generously endowed boulder of fat.
“We will have to return here then, witch,” he said fiercely, “we’ll leave a trail of breadcrumbs so we remember how to find it again.”
“Is that a Hansel and Gretel reference?” Hermione asked with a laugh. “Oh, of course that would be the childhood Muggle fairy tale that you’d remember best.”
“And why shouldn’t it be?” Severus asked with a soft smile. “I don’t suppose Hansel’s side of the story was ever adequately told.”
“Would you like to roleplay that at some future date?” Hermione asked, crouching over Severus. It was a surreal experience, to be both straddling a jiggling mound of (real) Severus-fat as well as on top of a jiggling mound of (simulated) magical fat.
His eyes were hungry. “Without a doubt,” he murmured, “I’d love to now, if I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for the feast.”
Hermione nodded. “We can luxuriate here for a few moments, though.”
She settled down on top of the velvety mound of belly fat that comprised the boulder, and Severus hugged her tightly, smelling in her scent deeply. “You’re good enough to eat,” he said with a darkly carniverous voice, and Hermione just kissed him in response.
“You’ve been so good today,” she murmured, “just a little bit more, and you can feast to your heart’s content in the Great Hall.”
“Only if you do so with me,” he answered with a subtly happy voice, and Hermione kissed him fervently.
"I've got a great idea," Hermione said, as they tripped up the stairs to their rooms two by two. "I want to dress up."
He gave her a stern look. "Haven't you teased me enough, witch?"
"Fine," she said, and shook her head. "I wish I knew more clothing spells. But I can manage. Give me five minutes once we get in? I'll slip out of this in the dining room, so you can have the pleasure of watching me struggle out of this, and then dress in the bedroom in my costume."
"Ugh," he agreed with a sigh, "fine. The combination of a strip tease and food has allayed me. You have until I finish these pastries I brought from the Great Hall."
"That's just enough time," she said, and then realized that if left unattended with her pastries, those would likely be gone as well. "Just know I'll be taking the contents of my pockets with me when I go to change."
He sighed with a deep sense of aggravation. "Curses," he said, "and just when I had planned to take all of your pumpkin pasties and eat them whilst you were occupied."
Hermione just giggled, and generously tucked one of hers into his hand as they went. They were going slower after the first flight of stairs, and Severus' hand was sweaty with the effort, but he stuffed the confection in his mouth and chewed it as they went.
The plan went off as expected. Hermione nearly had to use butter to get herself out of the too-tight dress, and Severus chortled at every mistake she made in removing it, but it was finally off, and her growing belly - complete with red stretch marks - was finally available for viewing.
"You look so delicious," he moaned, standing up from his place at the table and approaching her. "You. Me. Bedroom. Now."
"Not yet," said Hermione with a squeal, ducking from his grasp. "I'll be even more delicious in a moment, I promise."
"It'd better be good," Severus called as she ran into the bedroom as fast as her chubby legs could carry her.
Within a few moments, Hermione was ready. She hadn't really had the time, leisure, or opportunity to wear a truly fantastical costume since she was quite young, and even then she'd tended to be practical and less whimsical.
But now she had someone to be creative for, and it was exciting to try and do something new.
She called Minty and had Minty help her achieve her costume. With a mixture of agar gum, chocolate custard, and sugar, she coated herself with the sticky residue, most particularly her vaginal area. Then Minty laid out an assortment of candy from the Halloween feast, varying from chocolate frogs to candy corn to caramels to peanut butter balls to jelly worms, as well as crushed chocolate biscuits. All of this was laid out on a tarp on the floor, and Hermione laid down and rolled her fattening body in it, but not before putting her hair into a cotton-candy towel to prevent it from getting too icky.
"Oh gods," she whispered as she finally sat up, her body covered in the delicious potpourri, "I wish I could absorb all this instead if having Severus eat it all off me."
"I wish so as well, Mistress," Minty said with a smile, "for that would be wonderful magic indeed."
"Indeed," Hermione said, and stood up. She proceeded to magic her body with a stasis charm, to keep everything in place, and then she rose and walked out into the dining room.
It had taken her a little longer than she had expected, and Severus had stuffed himself with all of the pastries both of them had brought back, and he was sitting in his chair with a self-satisfied smirk while rubbing his bloated belly. He sat straighter at the sight of Hermione, and his jaw dropped.
"Well!" he exclaimed, and stood with a laborious effort, and approached her warily. "Witch," he said as he carefully touched her. "What new madness is this?"
"Don't you want to devour every inch of me?" Hermione begged, and as she was wont to expect, he nodded solemnly.
"Come," he said, and gestured to the bedroom. "Let's finish this feast with our desert."
........................ I may add the smut that goes here, but I might not ..................
A week later, Hermione was pleased to have a new dress after a short few minutes picking out new robes. It was long, and blue, and fluttered at her ankles with a crepe chine fabric that was laced with ribbons. It had delicate embroidery across the whole thing, especially at the neckline. And moreover, she had a little room to grow to fit her burgeoning body.
Now at the tipping point between the late 190s and early 200s, she was ready to make the final push forwards to grow her body over the hump she'd struggled with for days. And then some.
Severus emerged from the dressing room at the low-end clothier's in Knockturn Alley. Jeremiah Horn, the proprietor, brushed some loose threads off the shoulders of Severus' robes.
"Well?" Severus asked with an arched eyebrow.
Hermione, ever pensive, played it up a little.
"Turn a bit," she motioned.
He did so, slowly.
"Faster," she insisted, and he obliged. The resulting flourish was distinctly perfect for him.
"Hm," Hermione said, casting her eye over the other clothing he had tried on in the past hour. Honestly, he was taking longer than she had, and that was probably because he actually was more vain than she was.
But, this set he was wearing was perfect, and also inevitably the most expensive. Hermione wasn't about to let her man overspend for something if she could help it. She had read long and hard about bargaining practices in preparation for this trip, and she'd be damned if they'd go to waste!
"I think the one without the buttons was a bit more flattering," Hermione said, a hint of disapproval in her voice. "Given how big you've gotten recently, Severus, I have to say that you've got to look at options that de-accentuate your tum. Not make it look like you're showing it off."
He growled at her, but not for the reasons poor Mr. Horn probably assumed. The shopkeeper was looking back and forth between the couple, as if to assess who was paying his bill. Then, with a shrug, he seemed to side with Hermione. "Mr. Snape," he said, a twinge of regret in his face, "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to agree with your wife on this one."
Severus' eyes were cold and clear, and he approached the man, who was in his mid thirties or so, and deeply underwhelmed.
He crossed his arms and stared deeply into the man's eyes. Mr. Horn took a step back. Severus did not intimidate him further.
"You were in my 7th year potions class the year I became an instructor at Hogwarts," Severus said, his voice dropping dangerously. "Do you remember?"
Mr. Horn's eyebrows rose by several inches. "Oh. Professor Snape," he said, recognition dawning on his face. "Of course I remember you."
He didn't bother to add the following, but they were clear to read on his face:
1. I didn't recognize you, particularly since you've got fat
2. You still scare the living daylights out of me
"That's right," Severus said, and gestured to Hermione. "And my wife, as you called her, is none other than Hermione Granger, without whom the present wizarding world would be a sorry sight indeed."
"Of course," Mr. horn said, taking off his glasses and wiping them, as if they were the cause of his egregious faux pas. They might very well have been, for that matter - they were very thick. "Pardon me, Professor. You certainly did your part in ensuring the wizarding world's safety as well."
"Indeed," Severus said, his tone as dripping with poison as Hermione ever had heard, "maybe just enough to correct half the things I did to terrorize it as well."
Mr. Horn seemed on the verge of cowering, so Hermione cast Severus a warning glance. He read the signal and nodded. "Enough," he said with a wave of his hand. "I'm just an old man on a shit research pension, shuttered away so I can dodder to my heart's content and hopefully forget my role in the ruin of this world."
Mr. Horn looked as if he'd been thrust into a corner. "Well then," he said to Severus, putting his spectacles back on, "I seem to have stepped in it quite thoroughly."
Severus didn't deign to respond, and Hermione took that cue as well. She wasn't going to trip up the man's game.
Severus then proceeded to wistfully stare into the mirror, brushing down the front with a heavy sigh.
"This is out of my price range, I think," he said, smoothing out the wrinkles that formed at his bulging tum, "I always did like buttons, however."
"If you start your diet, like you're supposed to," Hermione conceded, "you might just look fetching in it."
"But again, the expense," murmured Severus, and began to undo the buttons with a sense of futility borne of setting his dreams too high.
The shop-keeper quickly dashed into the back room to consult with the man who was previously introduced as his assistant, but was clearly something more important than that, and the men scurried back together.
"We'd like," said Mr. Horn, "to offer you a discount. Given our suppliers gave us a cut rate on this particular shipment-"
"-Since it was on clearance," cut in the man introduced as Mr. Grace,
"We'd like to offer this to you at ten percent off," finished Mr. Horn. "Is that acceptable to you, Professor Snape?"
Severus made a show of looking into his wallet, and he looked dismally at his scarce galleons. "I wish it were," he said helplessly, "but as you see, I've only got ten galleons here."
The men exchanged a telepathic glance between each other.
"We can do that," said Mr. Grace, and Mr. Horn added, "Yes, certainly we can. That's generous of you, Professor Snape. Most generous indeed. And considering everything you've done for our world, well, it seems only proper that you get some benefit of it."
Severus made a show of denying the discount, but they were insistent, and soon Severus was ushered out of the shop with a collection of new items along with the robes he liked so much, and once they got out the door and Mr. Grace and Mr. Horn had closed the door with a bang, Severus grinned outright at Hermione.
"That was a good showing," he said comfortably, "but I do hope you weren't serious about your diet."
"Oh," Hermione said with a grin of her own, "I was quite serious."
His face quirked, as if he could guess where she was going.
"I'm fully on board with you having a diet where you try as fast as you can to wear these robes out, and then going back shamefacedly to get a bigger size by May of this coming year," she said with a laugh, and he snorted.
"You're so predictable," he said fondly, and as she glanced at him with teasing admonishment, he amended, "in the best sense of the word."
"Is there a best sense of the word?" she asked, and she danced onward through the alley in front of him.
They stopped at a not-often-frequented luncheon joint serving Jamaican food. They were notably the only non-persons of color in the place, which was sparsely attended even at the lunch hour.
"It's disgraceful, this artificial segregation," Hermione said as they were served curried goat with beans, and rice, with fried plantains on the side. "I had no idea Knockturn Alley existed when McGonagall first took me through Diagon Alley. And come to think of it, I don't think I saw any non-white shopkeepers there when I went the first time. I remember thinking it was so tremendously strange."
"It's truly a novelty for Lee Jordan to be working at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, that's for sure," Snape agreed, and scraped out the remaining rice from the family-sized serving bowl they'd been given.
"Well, it's not right," Hermione said, a fire burning in the pit of her stomach - unrelated to her happy gustatory experiences with digesting the heavy, fatty food. "The Wizarding World simply doesn't have language to talk about race. From when I first entered Hogwarts, I don't think I have ever heard anyone talk about persons of color at all."
"Whereas the Muggles have actually got language for it, I suppose," Severus remarked. He popped more fried plantains in his mouth. "But that doesn't mean they're better about it."
"No," Hermione agreed, "no, this is more subtle, but in some ways less important in the wizarding world. We're still getting over the idea that people born of Muggles are significantly worse than people born of 'pure' heritage." She groaned. "Oh. Wait. Never mind. While not all Muggleborns are persons of color, persons of color in the wizarding world are ONLY Muggleborn, or born of Muggleborns."
"Excellent observation," Severus said with a sigh. "And where do most of them end up, come to think of it?"
"Gryffindor," Hermione said, and her heart nearly broke at the realization. "At least we are welcoming there."
Severus shrugged. "Perhaps? I can't tell for sure. Your class was among the most diverse that we'd ever had previously, that's for certain."
Hermione nodded. "As time goes on, I imagine it will continue to go in the right direction. Though there's so much in the way of subliminal racism..."
She looked around them. "Like Fortescue's has a queue around the street at this time of day. Where are the people here, or at that Lassi shop across the way?"
Severus shook his head. "Do I even need to say? This is Knockturn Alley. Only poor people, and scheming people, ever enter."
The point was well taken, and they finished eating in relative quiet.
They returned to Severus' rooms, and with a few sweeping gestures, he put away his new clothes. "Thank you for... persuading me," he said, sounding a trifle grateful. "I needed it."
"You're certainly quite welcome," Hermione said, wrapping herself around him and poking his belly fondly. "I will miss seeing how your clothes strain to contain you, for a while, but it's a sacrifice made with a long-term investment in mind."
"Ah," Severus said, reclining on the sofa and popping a number of biscuits into his mouth, "And what is that investment?"
"The process of watching you grow out of your new clothes," Hermione said, and found herself squirming with pleasure and delight. "What a treat that will be."
"Hm. A challenge," he said, meeting her eyes and quirking a smile. "You know I always am up for a challenge."
"Yes," Hermione said, and she seated herself at the dining table. They had an unfinished chess game there, floating over the remnants of their morning's breakfast - a few croissants and other pastries remained, as well as some Halloween candy the elves had brought them, leftovers from the feast. "I know you are."
She motioned him over to the table, and he obliged. As they settled down to playing the game, and continuing to snack, Severus slipped his feet out of his shoes, and Hermione did the same, and their feet nestled together under the table as they focused.
Hermione had truly gotten into the swing of things, and found herself getting hungry even at odd intervals when she previously would never be hungry.
Severus, ever in his quest for scientific precision, had her wear a button that correlated to a spreadsheet. Whenever she felt the gnaw of hunger within her, she was supposed to tap the button, and it would tally the number of times she tapped it per day.
It was fascinating for her to see the results. Her hunger was actually increasing, and proportionately so was her calorie intake. (She would check in with Cozy daily at this point, and add her statistics to the spreadsheet.)
She was happy to discover that she had, practically overnight, catapulted from her waffling between 199 and 200 to finally a firm 205, and she luxuriated in the feeling. Now that she had worked out the plateau, she felt certain that her gain there forward would be steady, and augmenting with every pound. On her five-foot frame, her plumpness was becoming more and more undeniable, and she was sure she was reaching the threshold of social unacceptability. Particularly given how the dresses she wore were tight on her body.
"It's relatively easy to put on weight, I've found, the heavier you are," Severus said, staring at his figure with bewilderment the first crisp Saturday morning in November. They were walking around the lake, since Severus insisted they get regular exercise daily. Hermione, with her indoorsy attitude and bookish hobbies, knew the virtues of exercise, but rarely would take part in it of her own volition, despite her good sense kicking her.
But, Severus had once been an inveterate exerciser, with his running around the castle all night caused by his mania, and truly loved it, despite how he'd fallen off the wagon for so long. So he'd been getting them both up early to go on walks every day for half an hour before breakfast. Longer on weekends, he promised.
"I suppose it just has to do with ratios," Hermione said, sitting at the base of a charred tree where she'd paused to rest, "proportionately it's similar to a snowball - when you start off, the surface area is small, but then as you increase that surface area, the increase multiplies the ability to congeal fat to the body. Or something."
"I wouldn't say that," Severus said, taking her arm and walking with her along the perimeter of the lake. "Instead, I'd hazard the guess that it is something more to do with units of measurement - the unit of measurement, the pound, does not adapt to the body's natural proportional changes. As in, from a proportional perspective, one pound is to a 100-pound person the same as 4 pounds is to a 400 pound person. In other words, for a 400 pound person, 1 pound has a disproportionate amount of impact, I imagine, than it has to a smaller person, and vice versa. And with every additional pound added to one's frame, the value of the pound deflates."
"Are you all right?" Hermione interjected, "you sound a bit off, my dear."
He laughed with a hint of manicness, and shook his head. "No, I'm not. I just used economics to explain a question of biology. Fancy that. And if you would examine that for a moment-"
"-I do think you're right," Hermione said, and stopped them gently. "But I still sense there's something amiss with you. You're rambling."
He tried to pull them onwards, but she held tightly to him, and he took a deep breath as he realized she was anchoring him to the spot. "You're sensing that I'm...uncomfortable," he said, taking a deep breath. His round cheeks were flushed with the vigorous exertions of the day, and his face was very pale and white. "I suppose it's worth telling you why."
He inclined his head gravely towards the charred tree she'd been sitting under.
"That tree," he said simply, "is the cursed one."
Hermione's eyebrows knitted together.
"What do you mean by that?"
He looked at her with a small amount of quizzicalness. "You mean to say... you never saw my memories?"
"No," she said, "at least not ones involving trees."
"Oh," he said, and sighed. "Then let me illuminate you. But first, let us leave this area."
Hermione nodded, and followed him, arm in arm.
They settled down at a bank on the diametric opposite of the tree, and they sat on the dead grass, which waved damply in the morning breeze.
"I'll keep this short," he said, as Hermione's hand squeezed itself into the place between his right breast and his belly, to keep her warm. "I have no desire to go over it with more detail than is absolutely necessary."
"I hear you," Hermione said, and she listened as he briefly and concisely described the travails he'd had with James Potter and the Levicorpus incident, and how it culminated with his loss of Lily's friendship. At the end of it, Severus was staring off into space, shaking ever so slightly, only noticeable because of the way his stomach jiggled.
"I'm so sorry," Hermione whispered, touching his shoulder gently. "That must have been traumatic."
"It was," Severus said darkly, "but not nearly so much as all that followed once I joined the Death Eaters."
Hermione didn't know what to say, so she just asked, "Do you want a hug?" and he nodded, wiping his eyes with the back of his sleeve.
They remained there for almost an hour, Hermione whispering sweet comforts to him while he did his best to keep from weeping.
But by the end of it, he'd come to a conclusion.
"I shouldn't be crying," he said, taking deep slow breaths in and out. "Because while I have lost so much in this world, Hermione... I have started to find some things as well."
"Perhaps so," Hermione said, kissing him gently on the cheek, "but your pain is still real and valid."
"And will probably never go away," he returned, placing his face on her warm skin, "for it is nearly as much a part of me as anything else. But I have hope," he went on, clasping her to him more tightly, "and I hope that I can have some small amount of happiness on this earth."
Hermione's mind went involuntarily back to September, when Severus had, in his fearsome way, declared that he had 'ambiguous feelings towards living.' And, in that moment, she really felt both powerful and vulnerable. Despite him not coming outright and saying it, he was saying that she had changed him, and changed how he felt about life, living, and the pursuit of happiness. There was great power and great responsibility in this knowledge, that she had indeed changed him to be something a little bit better.
"I'm so glad you feel that way," she murmured, and kissed him at the top of his head, since it was easily accessible to her lips.
Somehow this gentle motion seemed to set him off completely, and his quiet shaking and weeping emerged into outright sobbing on her shoulder. She just stroked his shoulder, secure in the knowledge that he had years of tears to cry - and so did she - but he'd been doing so much more, for so much longer, and for so much less reward. And all he wanted now was to be cared for, a little bit.
She could do that for him. She was happy to.
Her caregiver emotions must have been in full swing at that point, because when Severus went upstairs to take a nap - it was, he claimed, the best way to put him back in the right frame of mind - Hermione went to the library.
And who should be there, but Neville.
The poor boy was rail-thin, his cheeks haggard and empty with the illness that raged within him, and Hermione felt her heart weep to see her fellow classmate and professor in such a state.
"Neville?" she asked, and approached him tenderly.
She discovered that the young man, in reading, had fallen fully asleep on his book. He was trying to prep for his class the next day, she could see, and he wasn't very far along.
"Neville?" she asked, and gently brushed his shoulder.
He sat up with a start, knocking his quill and other sundry items onto the floor.
"Hermione?" he said, his voice cracking a little, "Erm, hello."
"Hello," she said smoothly, "may I sit with you?"
Neville's eyes looked Hermione up and down warily, as if assessing whether her newfound belly was contagious, and then muttered, unenthusiastic, "Sure."
"Jolly good," Hermione said, though wasn't sure where that unusual amount of exuberance came from. "So you're prepping for your lessons, I see?"
"Yes," Neville said, trying to break a smile, but Hermione saw his heart simply wasn't in it. He proceeded to clear his throat, and ask in a good-natured way, "Have you heard from Luna lately?"
"No," Hermione said, not sure what he was expecting. "Have you?"
"Yes," Neville said, and sighed. "She found out somehow about what was happening... with me... and has been sending me exotic herbs and such from all over the world. It's very sweet," he went on, blathering a bit, "but she doesn't understand that we won't work, we can't work, and that's all there is to it. I'm pretty sure she thinks that she and I are just figuring things out, not irrevocably broken up."
Hermione sighed. This was just like Luna.
"Not that I mind her sending me rare herbs with strange medicinal properties that might be useful to me in my illness," Neville went on sadly, "but I'm simply afraid she's putting her heart where she oughtn't, you understand?"
"Yes," Hermione said, starting to get irritated with his sappiness, despite her better conscience, "I do."
Honestly, she was more surprised that it was him who broke it off with Luna, and not the other way around. Hermione felt like Luna tended to float in and out of her worlds without a care, and Hermione fully expected that she'd be more likely to wander off and leave Neville hanging.
But maybe that's what did happen, and Neville had just called it off as a result. Hermione didn't know. She didn't exactly care to know, either. Neville was sweet, and pathetic, and used to be attractive. Now, he was a broken shell of what he was. He was in shambles, really.
Still, she should do what she could for him, no matter how misogynistic and rude he'd been to her. And his lesson plans were begging to be finished.
"How much are you eating?" she asked him gently, and he shrugged.
"Clearly not enough," he murmured, but then a sly grin came to his face. "Though you and Snape together are liable to eat the castle out of house and home, if you don't watch yourselves."
"Those sound like fighting words," Hermione said daintily, "I don't suppose you'll surrender your notes to me and let me finish them off, given how you've already sounded the horns to wage war upon me?"
Neville seemed torn between his dignity and his pragmatism, and his pragmatism won. "Thank you," he breathed, and closed his eyes. "I.. you're a good friend, 'Mione, remember that," he said, as she began to scratch out some of his woozily-written words, "Even though I was bloody terrible to you, you've come back."
"I have a problem with that," Hermione said, "historically speaking. Boys are right prats."
"Do you include Snape in that?" Neville asked, apparently not willing to let the topic go. His eyes looked over her hungrily, and she saw for the first time in a while how much Neville truly wanted her - wanted her as his lover, his confidante, his comfort, everything. And honestly, he'd do her a damn sight better than Harry or Ron, presuming he got better. Probably would do her better than Snape ever would either, she realized with some chagrin. But Snape, for all his brokenness, was a man, and Neville was scarcely that. Severus had a level of competence and skill that Neville was barely exploring on his own. Neville would definitely age well, but until then, he was no potential replacement for Severus, of that Hermione was damn sure.
"I don't," Hermione said, "but he's a prat too."
Satisfied with this, Neville slumped down in the hard wooden chair. "Thanks again, 'Mione. And," he went on, mumblingly, "If you wanted, muh muh mugh mugh muh muh."
"What?" Hermione asked, tilting her face and staring straight at him. She turned a page of the textbook as she did.
"I said," Neville said, looking up with a face as white as a sheet, "if you wanted to do what you said you wanted to do, before, we could do that."
He was loopy, but he managed to stare straight into her eyes.
And she stared straight into his.
She felt like she almost caught a glimpse of the inside of his mind - which she immediately regretted. She didn't want to look inside his mind! So she turned her head back to her work. She should talk to Severus about this. She'd never had that experience before. She imagined that was what occulmency was. But she hadn't done it on purpose...
In any case, Neville mistook her worries about her involuntary Occumlency instinct as hesitation about his offer. "I... it was stupid," he said, staring down sadly at his rickety body. "Forget I said anything."
"No," Hermione said, and reached out her finger to touch his chin. "May I... touch you?"
He nodded assent, without looking up, and she tilted his chin upwards. "You deserve love, Neville," she murmured, "and right now, it's a good idea to seek it out wherever you can. I would let Luna keep sending you things. And, for my own part, I would love to be of service to you in whatever way meets both our interests and needs."
"You're talking like a Slytherin," Neville said with a frown, "You're changing, Hermione, in more ways than one."
She paused and thought about it. "Perhaps," she said, "but does that change anything? My offer remains open."
"Yes," Neville said, growing more sure with every repetition, "Yes, I would like to experiment with you, Hermione. Even though you're all tangled up with... Professor Snape."
Hermione grinned and nodded in acknowledgement of the fact that Neville was using Severus' professional title, endowing hi with respect previously not given in the conversation. Then, with a pat on his shoulder, she set to scribbling for twenty minutes, while Neville dozed off. At first he fell asleep while leaning back. Then he fell deeper into sleep leaning forward. Then, in the final culminating era of his sleep, he had collapsed against Hermione's busy shoulder.
"Come," Hermione said, wrapping up the quills she had, "I've finished up your lesson plan for the next week. And I'll help you with your future ones too, if you want them."
"Oh, Hermione, thank Merlin, you're so wonderful," Neville gushed, blinking heavily and standing up.
"But," Hermione said, "I do have one condition. And it is a fair one, I think."
Neville's eyes got wide. "What? If you're going to suggest that me, you, and HIM have a-"
"-I'm going to stop you right there," Hermione said, raising her hand, "because I don't think I myself could stomach the thought. In comparison, this should be a tame request, I think. I simply ask that you get my additional work to help you officially sanctioned - by McGonagall."
"No," Neville said, his eyes hard and sharp.
"I don't know that you have much of a choice, Neville," Hermione said, feeling very Slytherin indeed. "You're unable to complete your lesson plans without falling asleep, Neville. This is deeply worrisome. There are protections available to prevent you from losing your job. Please," she begged, and she found her throat tightening up, That was strange - she hadn't been prepared to get so worked up on Neville's behalf.
They continued the sand-off for several inutes, until Neville finally threw in the towel. "You win," he said sheepishly, and agreed, "I will tell McGonagall. Everything."
"Good," Hermione said, "then, it's settled. I'll help you manage your courseload. But, Neville, there is one other request I would ask of you."
Neville looked a lot more game for this request than the first. "What?" he asked helpfully.
"I," Hermione said, "want to talk to Madame Pomfrey about your condition,," Hermione said, "and if she says what I suspect she will say, I'd like to help you gain back some of the weight you've lost."
Neville looked down at his skin-and-bones cadaverous frame, and reasoned, "Sure, why not?"
"That's right," Hermione said, "you are going to be all right, Neville. You are going to be all right."
He took the moment to thrust himself around her in a firm embrace, and he kissed her squarely on the cheek.
Hermione took Neville back to his rooms once she was done with his lesson plans for the week. He was practically falling apart, but she helped him get to bed.
"Get some actual sleep," she said, tucking him in under the covers, "and when would you like me to come back?"
"Later," Neville said, relaxing into the bed groggily. He was clearly in need of sleep.
"But when?" Hermione asked, a bit crossly.
He blinked at her and yawned. "Maybe at dinner?"
Hermione pursed her lips. Clearly dinner time was an important time for her and Severus. But once, she supposed he wouldn't mind awful much. Or maybe they could all eat together.
"I can arrange that," she said.
Neville smiled beatifically. "Thank you," he murmured, and she immediately felt guilty that she'd even contemplated resisting his request. "You're lovely."
"Don't thank me yet," Hermione said with a warning tone. "I'm far from having started with you."
With that, she pressed her fingers on top of his head in a gentle pat, and left the room quietly.
When she got back to Severus' room, she found him deeply asleep. Which was good, she supposed, since he'd been troubled by insomnia the past few nights.
In fact, she felt like she could do with a bit of sleep herself, so she tucked herself in with him, squirming
As soon as he seem to understand what exactly had crawled into bed with him, she felt his arms draped around her like velvet curtains, and she snuggled her butt up against his crotch.
Sleep didn't come to her, particularly since she was so wound up with thoughts about Neville.
She wondered what Snape would think once they've managed to have a conversation about it. Would he be mad? Would he be pleased for her? She didn't know. But, she was glad that Neville had gotten over his weird feelings about Snape, at least to the extent that he could. She was glad that she might be able to help him in a small way.
Her thoughts occupied her for a while. Once Severus woke up, she felt his breathing change. Instead of the long slow breaths he made when sleeping, with a hint of snoring, she felt his breath gets shorter, and much more rapid. He also pressed his face into the nape of her neck, and his nose dug into her bushy hair.
"How are you, my dear?" he asked her.
She snuggled closer into him, and her pelvis twitched with a sudden jolt of erotic tension. His belly was so soft against her buttocks, and as she felt around, she sensed his cock was starting to wake up as well.
"All right," she said, burrowing deeper under the blankets, closer to him, not looking into his eyes. "I had a talk with Neville."
Severus eased himself up into a sitting position. "What did you talk about?" he asked, his voice immediately a touch darker.
Hermione sighed. "I asked him if he wanted some help with his lesson plans, " she said, "because I saw him sleep in the library, trying desperately to finish them."
Severus looked vaguely amused, but Hermione shut that down with a glare. "That isn't funny, he is ill. Potentially terminal."
Severus had the good grace to look at least a little chagrined, but he didn't look completely abject. "So," he said, "you helped him with his lesson plans."
"Yes," she said, "and I am going to continue helping him."
"Why?" he asked, looking genuinely puzzled. "He was patently unkind to you."
"Because," Hermione said, "he is my friend. And my conscience wouldn't allow me to do anything else. He needs someone. And I am the person he needs."
Service raised an eyebrow. "He needs you?" he asked, a tinge of jealousy in his voice.
"Yes," Hermione said, "and what's more, he needs more than a lab assistant. Neville also need someone to care about him, someone to cuddle him, someone to tell him that everything is alright."
Servers looked like he had swallowed a fly. "And you think you are going to do that as well," he asked, his face becoming strained.
"Severus," Hermione said, "we've already talked about this, and you said it was alright."
"We did before," Severus said, "before he was an arse to you."
She shrugged. "It wasn't that big of a deal. He was a prat, but not spiteful or malicious."
"Oh," Severus said, his eyes rolling back, "and what's *that* supposed to mean?"
"Nothing!" Hermione snapped. "I mean what I'm saying, Severus. We've talked about this. Don't go projecting your feelings of inadequacy onto me. I'm talking only about him, not about you."
Severus looked like he was going to respond with something spiteful or malicious, but closed his mouth again as he thought better of it. After a few moments of consideration, he said, "You can do as you like. But that doesn't mean I think it's a great idea."
"What's so bad about it?" Hermione asked. "It's not like he and I are destined for some great romance that will set my relationship with you and me off in the wrong direction. Moreover," Hermione went on, "I feel like until I have experimented with another relationship, that I can't exactly call myself polyamorous."
Severus shook his head. "That is a logical fallacy," he said, "but I can understand why you might feel that way. It's an uncomfortable position to be in when it doesn't feel equilateral. I should know," he said miserably. "I spent years in a similar place with Erika."
"Yeah," Hermione said, "it feels like I am not living up to the expectations of being poly."
Severus shrugged. "I'm not entirely sure that the label fits our relationship well," he said, "given that we are behaving essentially as a monogamous couple at this time. Aside from talking with Erika," he acknowledged.
"And what you do with Erika certainly is outside the bounds of what would be permissible if we were in a monogamous relationship," Hermione said curtly, sitting up as well. "Don't forget that. If I were your monogamous girlfriend, you sure as hell wouldn't be allowed to talk with someone else like you do with her on the phone."
"Does it make you uncomfortable?" Severus asked, his eyes dark and his brow furrowed. "For me to continue my relationship with her in this way? Or my conversations with her?"
"Actually," Hermione said, "no, not at all. It seems like she has a good influence on you in many ways, and you always seem to be a little bit happier when you get off the phone with her. So I think it's good. I just don't want you to get complacent and think that we're 'essentially monogamous.' Because, we aren't."
"That is fair," Severus acknowledged, looking a bit downcast. "I... I'm sorry," he murmured, looking at the floor. "It's not fair of me to reframe our relationship in my head without talking about it. Even as I think on it now, I see how illogical I was being."
"Yeah," Hermione said solidly. "That was illogical. But that's all right," she said, wrapping her arms around him forgivingly. "I still like you, a lot."
"*Like* me?" he said, and snorted dramatically. "Yeah. You do. Merlin knows why, though."
"Okay," Hermione said, not sure how to respond to his increasingly bitter mood. So she plowed forward. "So," she went on, "this won't change that."
"I know," he said, and his voice was dark and deep.
"And just to restate," Hermione said, "at risk of sounding like a broken record, this is nothing to do with what you look like, my attraction to you, or my feelings about you. But if we are going to do this polyamory thing, it needs to be at work both ways, and I want to play around with it a little bit. See what it is like."
"I suppose," he said, though his shoulders were swamped, and he was looking down at the ground.
"You cannot guilt me about it," Hermione said. "Whether intentionally or not, you introduced me to this concept initially, by telling me how wonderful your girlfriend was, and it's worth taking some time to explore a little bit more. Even if I didn't think Neville was a good choice for me."
"I don't disagree," Severus said.
"But you're not feeling good about it," Hermione said.
"No, I'm not," Severus said, and fell silent.
"Why?" asked Hermione, holding him closer tucking her foot between his long legs.
Severus sighed. "I just have never had to deal with the feelings that I am feeling now."
His hand intertwined with her fingers, and he rested it on top of his growing belly. "I just never have had a relationship like this before," he said, his eyes far away, "and forgive me if I am loath to let you out of my sight to be in the company of another man. I've spent most of my life painfully on the wrong side of a love triangle."
Hermione sighed. "Would it be different if Neville wasn't looking for a relationship as well as physical contact?" she asked.
"Yes," he said, "though I know that is a double standard."
"Right," Hermione said, "and I also think that is wrong, and illogical."
"I know," he said, putting his hands on his face, and sighing dramatically. "I am just so new to this so many ways. Erika, for all I love her, wasn't really…"
He stopped there and took a deep breath. "She was already really very entangled with Jean-Raoul, and I was her secondary from the start. From that day, our relationship has never changed in terms of its balance - me on the simmering cauldron in back, Jean-Raoul at the forefront. She has her life with him, and activities with me, while certainly pleasant, aren't of great import in her life. And I'm comfortable with that form of poly, but not the form of poly where my main squeeze…"
He looked embarrassed. "Forgive the term, I don't know where that came from," he went on, "I've never been in the position where the person who occupies so much of my emotional and intellectual efforts is dating someone else as well."
"Well," Hermione said, "For me it's not changing in exactly the way you described. In this relationship, you have always been dating someone else. And I think it's fine. But it's certainly not fair to me to not for you to expect that I not date anyone else for the sake of your comfort. How did Erika respond to your interest in me, initially?"
"Positively," he confessed. "She actively encouraged me to pursue you."
"Ah," Hermione said, "I didn't know that."
"No," he replied, "I felt embarrassed talking to her about it." He disentangled himself from her and rearranged himself so that he was horizontal on the bed, putting his arms behind his head and readjusting to give Hermione a little more space. "I'm Erika in this situation, I suppose," he said, "so I should be encouraging of your relationship with Neville."
"It isn't an intuitive feeling, I imagine," Hermione said, drawing the covers more tightly around him and snuggling down alongside him. "Have you talked with her about this?"
"No," he admitted, and looked a bit abashed. He stared up at the ceiling and didn't make eye contact with her. "Would you like me to?"
"I think it might be a good idea," Hermione said. "She can help you get your head screwed on straight."
"I know that," he said, and sighed. His belly rose and fell with his breaths, looking like a pillowy white mountain. "This is purely trouble between the intellectual part of my brain and the emotional part," he said. "That's all."
"I hear you," Hermione said, "and I'm willing to be as helpful as I can in sorting this out."
"I know you are," he said, "you're uncommonly patient with me." He sighed, and draped his arms over her, and around her. "I don't know why you're so good to me," he whispered, a deep sigh emerging from him. "You truly are a decent person."
Hermione did her best to shrug while Severus had latched onto her. "I don't think most other people would do the same, but then again, I don't really hold most people in the highest esteem."
He chuckled a little bit at that, and patted her on the head. "You," he said carefully, "I like you."
She grinned at him. "So," she said, ready to take on the next battle. "Neville asked me to dinner tonight. Is that alright?"
Severus' briefly elevated mood sank a bit. "I suppose," he said, and looked a little sad at the prospect of being alone for a meal - the first time in a long while. "I... admit I've gotten used to you being with me while eating," he murmured. "Perhaps too much so."
Hermione didn't say anything, since she could see the wheels churning in his head. Then, he brightened up again. "It will finally give me a chance to focus on finishing the folio of abstracts for the conference," he said, "just don't take too long."
She nodded. "I won't," she said, and then she found herself giving him a wicked grin. "But you know what I need to do before I head to Neville's dinner," she asked, her voice rising with a wicked anticipation.
"And what is that?" he asked, his eyes growing wide as he seem to recognize where she was headed.
"I need to," she said carefully, "make sure that my 'main squeeze' stays plump and squeezy in the meantime."
"I suppose that could be accommodated," Severus said, his eyes brightening, and then they both got out of bed and went to the dining table in the main room.
In no time, the table was covered in food - all of it scrumptious, all of it ready for consumption.
They seated themselves comfortably in their usual positions, adjacent to each other, their legs carefully twining together.
"What's on the menu today?" Severus asked aloud, lifting away covers briskly. "Mm. A whole ham, fettuccine, and green peas."
The amount of food was, compared to many of their previous dinners featured in this story, relatively modest, but Hermione knew that between the two of them they'd finish it all off, and still seek out dessert.
He served her first, then himself. The room was dark, as nightfall had come to them in the time they'd been asleep.
"Oh," Hermione groaned, after several bites of fettuccine, "this is divine."
"Simple enough," Severus said in agreement, "but highly edible."
After his first few bites, he waved his hand at the phonograph in the corner, which they'd used several times before. Some scratchy music emerged, and Hermione recognized it as being classical music. The gentle hum of an oboe caressed their ears as they commenced eating, and Hermione felt complex themes develop, and the way the notes hung in the air pierced her heart. The piano trilled, and it sounded of spring - the perfect accompaniment to their dinner.
The arpeggios began to cascade up, like the gentle song of a harp, and Hermione held her breath until the demure end of the movement.
"What is this?" she asked, "it's beautiful."
Severus had slowed his pace, being on his second plate of pasta and ham already, and his eyes gazed off into the distance. "Tchaikovsky," he said, his face satisfied, and then he looked at her. "Strikes a chord with you, does it?"
She grimaced and smiled at his pun, particularly at the way his eyebrow quirked in anticipation of her response. "I suppose," she said, "you might say that."
He nodded, still a bit pleased with himself, and he lay down his fork in preparation for a bit of a story. "My mother," he began, and his face immediately became slightly more shuttered, though he persevered through it, "was a woman of great talents, who squandered them because she desired a different life. She wanted to abandon wizardkind and become an opera singer. She settled for a music hall, and fell in love with my father, who was one of the backstage hands where she worked."
Severus shook his head. "All I have of hers, of any real import, is her record collection. That's why I have it," he said, "I suppose if I'd had any interest in pursuing my own taste in music, I'd have very different ideals - but for the moment, I'm content with these old things that I've heard a hundred times each."
Hermione nodded. She was incredibly touched at his confession, and she was captivated by the image in her head of Severus' mother. She imagined the woman in a beautiful pink gown, not unlike that Liza Doolittle wore in My Fair Lady, with a graceful train, crepe-chine flowers, and a glorious flow to it.
Then she shook the image out of her mind. "What was she like?" Hermione asked.
Severus picked up his fork, and stabbed at his food, took a few heaping bites, crouching his neck down to better evacuate the noodles into his mouth. Then, with a frown, he said, "Stern. Broken. Unfixable."
He swallowed his food, and seemed reluctant to say more, but added, "She also drank hideously, after I started at Hogwarts. It ruined her voice."
Hermione reached over and touched his hand. He laid down his fork and let her hold his hand for a moment, until he came up with something else to say. His voice was a bit rumbly as he finished, "She was a beautiful woman, and a loving mother, though all her will had been stomped out of her to do anything more than see me safely out the door."
He frowned, shook his head as if to clear it, and then commenced to finish the plate, sopping up the dregs of the creamy white sauce with a roll.
"Did she ever make any recordings of her music?" Hermione asked, hoping she wasn't digging too deep into his head.
He shot a warning glance at her - she read it as, 'I'll indulge you this last one, but for the love of Merlin please shut up after this' - and he gave a pensive half-smile. "I know she talked about it. There was an album or somesuch - she was hoping it would recharge her career, be her first debut back on the stage after having me - but my father's bitterness stalled that brief misadventure. I was eleven then," he mused, "the spring before I got my Hogwarts letter. But I don't remember anything else about it - my father couldn't bear to hear anything about it."
He sighed, and served himself a third plate automatically. "I remember hearing her practice, hours and hours each day. She would practice in the bedroom while my father was out, warming up with warm salt water. Sometimes she'd make me fetch it if she wasn't feeling well."
His face grew tighter, and his eyes seemed to dilate as he retreated into his memories. "She was so frail. And she so rarely felt well."
Hermione nodded. "So painful, to see that creative power melt away into the despair of being in a relationship with your father," she murmured, feeling helpless to ease the pain that burdened him. Somehow, however, this was the right thing to say - Severus' glazed look disappeared, and he took a deep breath, as though he was coming out from under water.
"Thank you, my dear," he said, taking her hand and clasping it warmly. His thumb gently pressed itself along the curve of her palm, tracing a path along her life line, and he sighed. "Enough," he said, settling back more comfortably and starting to embark upon his third plate with an inspired stab with the fork. "No more melancholy today."
"All right," Hermione said, though her mind was going into its own well-worn dark places. The music behind them was growing darker, with the piano growing more and more ominous.
She hadn't talked to her own parents in years, at this point. She used to have a good excuse - fighting the wizarding war. Once that was over, she had found another excuse - dealing with all the logistical details was going to take a great deal of time to resolve, including where they were going to live, what they were going to do about their shuttered dental practice, and more. She had told herself that because she was in the fledgling part of her career, she was going to be too busy to sort all this out, so since they weren't in any danger, why not let them sit for another year or so until she was stable enough to take a vacation?
But that vacation had never happened - the expectations at the Public Advocate's office had worn on her deeply, and she hadn't taken a vacation until she quit.
And now, she had to admit, this excuse as well was no longer really relevant. She was well settled in to a stable job. She had taken this job because, among other reasons, there was a built-in vacation period of the year. She had no excuse not to spring her parents from Down Under as soon as summer vacation hit.
But now she had more complications in the picture. Severus.
How would her parents react to her dating one of her former teachers? Not well.
How would her health-obsessed parents react to her ballooning up a hundred plus pounds between the time they last saw her and the present? Not well at all.
And truth be told, while she experienced some pangs of sadness whenever the topic of parents came up, overall she was fairly satisfied with the situation. Her parents had always been well-meaning busybodies when it came to her, and it was only because of the lack of phone service to Hogwarts that Hermione hadn't gotten a call every night from her mother or father asking about her homework.
She was brilliant at working hard, her parents had always said, but wasn't there something else she should be doing as well?
Hermione, in fact, had felt oppressed by her parents. Kindly and doting as they'd always been, they'd also charged her to press herself beyond what anyone else could have reasonably expected from a young girl.
Hermione hadn't yet really sat down to examine her relationship with her parents as an adult. And as she examined it there, at the dinner table, with Severus wolfing down a third, and then a fourth plate of pasta, she realized that she simply might like them not being in her life anymore.
She felt like a terrible person for feeling that way. Why did she have to not like her parents? Unlike Severus' parents, who had failed him in so many ways, her parents had always irrevocably been there for her.
Severus looked somewhat bored, but below that she could tell he was concerned.
"I'm fine," she said, taking a piece of the ham and chewing it slowly. "Just thinking about my parents."
"You haven't told me much about them," Severus said, and a hint of pain came to his face. "In fact, I was talking to Erika about Jean-Raoul, and she was complaining that so many of her conversations revolve around him - and I realize that the same might be applicable here."
"It's fine," Hermione said comfortably, "you listen when I do want to talk about myself."
"Yes," Severus said, but his look was insightful, and target at her. He reached for a fifth serving of pasta, but as his overfull belly slowed his approach to the table, he stopped, and sat back, looking at her, putting two hands on top of the shelf his belly made. He looked thoughtful. "But you don't much, do you?" he said, his voice low. "So often, my dear, what you talk about is ideas. Beautiful ideas, but ideas nonetheless." He shook his head. "It's very Ravenclaw, actually."
"Either that, or Slytherin," Hermione said pointedly.
He raised his eyebrow curiously. The music from the phonograph was a waltz now, lilting and cheerful, with occasional dark tones that gave it dimensionality and substance.
"Avoidance," she added.
He frowned thoughtfully and nodded, settling back in his chair, and he let out an involuntary groan as he readjusted.
"If I get any bigger," he said with black humor, "I'm going to have to cut out a hole in this table for me to eat at."
"Oh," Hermione said, feeling her cheeks heat up at the very mention of it. "And that hole will have to get bigger with every inch you gain around your immense belly."
He nodded, but didn't really seem in the mood to engage in their kink, taking a deep breath and relaxing into himself again.
"So, Hermione," he asked, gently, "Let's avoid the avoidance. Your parents."
Hermione sighed. She wasn't looking forward to this. "What's there to say? They're in Australia under assumed names. I have no idea what they're doing - I cut myself out of their memories as best I could. I haven't heard from them, so I assume the charms still are holding well enough."
Severus nodded. "But what are they like?" he asked, putting a pensive finger on his chin and touching it idly.
Hermione found herself thinking back about Severus and his mother. She wished her parents were so remarkable, so romantic. Her parents seemed so bland in comparison, so mundane.
"My parents are dentists," she said, "and Muggles, of course. My father's very kind, and intelligent. My mother is quite handy, and does cross-stitch as a hobby. She's very patient and tolerant, and quite bright herself, though not quite as brilliant as my father, I think."
She shrugged. "I really don't know what else to say. I had a good childhood. I never had any problems."
"You don't have to have had problems to have something to say," Severus said, "and, indeed, it is refreshing to hear about something so unique in this broken world. Pray continue."
Hermione thought back. She had rarely engaged in any time talking about her parents to either Ron or Harry, who had accepted her so much as a person in her own right that she'd rarely bothered to think of them.
"I think the trouble with them" she said finally, "is that they really struggled to see me as my own person. That is their one flaw, I think."
"That's a significant flaw," Severus said receptively.
"Yeah, I suppose," Hermione said, and then frowned. "I don't know. They both loved me deeply. But they also just..."
"I don't know what they would have done if I'd been born, like, developmentally disabled or whatnot. Before we knew I was a witch, they talked nonstop about how I was going to go to University. There never was any doubt I was going. No chance for me to choose something else, if I'd wanted it."
She felt a darkness emerge from inside her that had been deeply ingrained in her psyche. "I know they would have, if I'd protested, supported me in whatever I wanted to do. But I think they didn't let me choose an awful lot about what my life was going to look like. My being a witch, that completely threw them off. They had no idea what to do with me at first. But McGonagall was very skilled at talking down reluctant muggle-born parents, even mine. I'm glad she did," Hermione concluded, realizing she was taking up a great deal of the conversation at this rate, and feeling self-conscious. "I know some part of me would have died if I didn't come to Hogwarts."
"Understandably so," Severus said, though she could tell he was getting marginally uncomfortable. She could guess why.
"I suppose another reason I haven't talked all that much about me," she said quietly, "is because for a significant portion of my life, I was your student. I'm only twenty six as of last September," she went on, her voice low and, despite her efforts to sound mature, she felt her voice shaking a bit. "Seven out of my 26 years - or over a quarter of my life - and, indeed, my most formative years that I can remember - was as your student."
She saw the dismay drape over his face as she reminded him about the facts. The music in the background, on the phonograph, swelled with timpani and violins cascading up and down. They died away as suddenly as they had leaped into action.
"That doesn't matter," he said carefully, and she could see his Slytherin showing. "There's still a full 70-odd percent of your life to tell me about."
She elected not to argue with him. "Fine," she acknowledged.
"Moreover," he went on, "it's... it's not as though I don't want to hear about what your life was like as my student," he said, a little gruffly. "It's a bit awkward, of course, but that will go away with time."
He was putting a tremendous amount of effort behind the words, and Hermione was incredibly grateful for that.
"Thank you," she said with a sad smile on her lips. He was trying, she could see, and trying very well. She hoped the awkwardness about their past roles would go away. Perhaps it was too soon to expect that.
Then again, she much preferred it this way - his awkwardness, the way his face grew red (she could tell even in the candlelight), his throat-clearing, and his general reluctance to broach the subject. It was far better this way, she knew, than for him to have been lusting after her for years, only to have her in his bed with a sense of 'FINALLY!'
That would have been quite unpleasant to her. And honestly, more than a bit gross.
She wondered if there was any chance that Severus might have had feelings for her when she was a student, if he hadn't been so caught up in his obsession with Lily. She certainly had crushed on him, of course, as we saw very early in this story.
Then she decided she couldn't think on that much longer. Severus was who he was, and the lifelong obsession with Lily was a large part of who he was.
And now, she mused with some distinct happiness rustling around in her brain, he had grown out of it, for whatever reason - in more ways than one. And he was going to continue growing, alongside her.
In more ways than one.
Severus began to stir, and she could tell he was ready for dessert.
"My dear," she murmured softly, putting her napkin on the table and standing up, "I'm... I'm going to go be with Neville now. Will you be all right?"
He cast his eyes up at her, and there was abject sorrow in them. But then, with an effort, he managed to smile painfully wide, his eyes clouding over with the evidence of his false front.
"Completely," he said with a false brightness behind the word.
She felt a stab of pain in her heart to see and hear it.
"I don't think so," she said, shaking her head. "Do we need to talk more about it?"
He laughed hollowly. "No, no," he said. "I won't even miss you," he lied, "I'll have my hands full."
She looked at him sternly, clearly not believing him. "We'll talk more about this later," she said.
"No need!" he said cheerfully - oh yes, something was wrong when Severus Snape was cheerful - and she grasped his shoulder firmly. He turned his head, and their eyes met.
"Listen," she said, her tone low and quiet. "We will have dinner. And then I will come back. I will not fuck him. Definitely not. I don't even know if we'll kiss or not. He's really sick, Severus," she concluded, "And you really, really have nothing to worry about."
"Who says I'm worried?" he asked, his guard dropping just a bit, and his bottom lip curled under, where he bit it.
She shook her head. Sometimes he was incorrigible, but she wasn't sure that she wouldn't behave the same way in his position.
"I'll be back soon," she said, patting his shoulder and kissing him on the head.
She brushed off her dress and approached the front door, grasped the handle, and turned back to face him.
"In the meantime," she added, her heart palpitating with a fierceness that she could scarcely remember ever feeling before, "here's something for you to chew on other than your dessert."
He immediately looked worried, his eyes wide and calculating, staring straight at her.
The music had changed at this point, and the phonograph was playing some scratchy voices singing a cheerful operatic chorus, punctuated by a vibrant orchestra.
Hermione felt a lump in her throat rise, and she stammered out, "I love you, Severus. I know you're not hot on the love thing. You can take it or leave it. But I love you, and I'm not going anywhere. I know you have feelings about this, but can talk about it later. And that's a promise."
With that, his mouth opened, but she wasn't prepared to talk to him about it. She rushed out the door, and found herself walking briskly down the hallway, her heart pounding in her chest, but she felt immensely happier for having said it.
If you're curious about the piece of music Hermione and Severus started their evening listening to, it was the randomly-chosen Opus 1, Piano Concerto in B-flat minor, Opus 23. Part II from my Tchaikovsky Spotify playlist.
If you're curious, the other music I listen to while writing ranges between Philip Glass's The Hours soundtrack (for when I want to write angst), and various meme videos on youtube that are hilarious and don't require any of my attention at all, e.g. Brodyquest, or HE-MAN HEYEAYEA SONG FOR 10 HOURS or Biggie Smalls feat. Thomas the Tank Engine. Strange backdrops indeed for my writing I suppose.
Also regarding Hermione's age: so because I suck, back when I started this fic, I said that it was 5 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, placing this story at the beginning of 2004. Hermione's birthday is September 19, which means she's among the oldest in her class. This places her birthday as being 1979, given that Harry was born in 1980 and is amongst the youngest in his class, since the entry to Hogwarts is determined by your age on September 1st. So all that lines up fine and dandy. The place where I screwed up is that I was using the wrong damn calendar at the beginning of the fic - I was describing things as being Saturday the Xth of Whatevmber, and for this I was using a 2007 calendar! Alas alack! I hope you're all willing to overlook this chronological issue. Basically from here on forward, in the interest of continuity, I'm continuing to use a 2007 calendar for this fic set in 2004. I hope this isn't the Worst Thing Ever, but I don't feel like going back and editing the thing to have it make sense.
Hermione felt her body pulsing as she walked down the hallway. She almost expected Severus to come to the door and demand, 'Wait!'
But he didn't. She wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not.
Soon she was back at Neville's door. She knocked, but there was no answer, just the hollowness of her knuckles on the cold wood.
She tried the handle and found it was still open. What a far cry from Severus, who still warded his door with layer upon layer of spells. There was no evidence she saw, as she went in, that Neville had anything to guard himself.
Neville himself was still sleeping in his bed, practically dead to the world as she approached him.
"Hey," she said in a low voice, and was met with his raspy breathing. She sat herself down in the comfortable chair next to the head of his bed and looked at him sadly.
His cheeks were hollowed out, and his loose flesh - from when they were round and rosy - hung limply. His nose was adorably button-shaped, but it seemed a bit over-large on his face in its current state. His chin was covered in stubble from a few days' worth of not shaving, and his cheekbones protruded unhandsomely from his face.
That wasn't even considering the rest of him. He was in bed with all his clothes on, all the blankets drawn up around him in an attempt to make sufficient insulation. The room wasn't cold; she'd left a fire in the fireplace, and it still emanated plenty of heat.
She heaved herself up - an increasingly difficult task given how much she'd added to her fat arse recently - and bent down effortfully to get a log to toss on the fire.
At the crunching of firewood, Neville stirred, and as Hermione tossed the log onto the fire and bent up straight - finding herself breathing heavily at the exertion - he opened his eyes wide. His eyes were already quite big and voluminious normally, constantly agape in a state of perpetual bewilderment and wonder, but now they seemed uncanny, even eerie.
"How are you?" Hermione asked, sitting down next to him in the chair again.
He took a deep breath and made an attempt to smile.
"Doing better, with the rest," he reported, and he made a motion to get up.
"No," Hermione said, putting out her hand and leaning forward. Neville sighed with fatigue, and instead opted to just sit up.
"You came back," he said, sounding as if he was surprised.
"Of course, silly," she said, offering him her hand. "I said I would."
"I know," he said, and shook his head. "I'm just... I'm sorry, 'Mione." He took a few deep breaths, and then leaned back against the headboard with a fainting motion.
"Are you all right?" Hermione asked, standing up and supporting his head before he banged it.
"Yes," he reported, and coughed. "Just a bit weak, is all."
"It appears so," Hermione said.
She thought back to her reading on his disease, which she'd completed back in early October.
"I have a few questions for you," she began, and she drew her purse onto her lap and began to rifle through it, until she found a notebook she'd stashed away a month ago with a red and gold cover. "When's the last time you saw a healer, or a doctor?"
Neville shrugged. "Last week I was at my healer's at Diagon Alley." He opened his eyes blearily and closed them again.
"And the last time you ate?"
He seemed puzzled. "Maybe yesterday?"
"Oh gods," Hermione said, and closed her eyes tight. Her stomach, full to the brim with the contents of her heavy dinner, began to feel oppressive to her - in not a good way. "We've got to change that immediately."
Neville nodded. "I know, it's a problem," he said softly, and he opened his eyes wider, clearly trying to get a better look at her. "I suppose you know a thing or two about how to eat, given how you and Snape were at Halloween," he said, his tone trying to mask the bitterness in his voice, but failing miserably.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Let's not talk about Snape. I'm here for you, Neville," she said, her voice growing softer. "And when's the last time you had water? Or any fluids at all?"
He didn't have a ready answer for that either, so she summoned immediately a glass from his kitchenette - when it arrived, it was soiled and gross, and she had to cast a quick scourgify on it.
"I can't believe the elves let you get away with this," Hermione said, shaking her head and filling the glass with an aguamenti. Then, realizing as he raised his shaking hand that he wasn't going to be easily able to drink it, she took a pencil from the bedside table and transformed it into a straw. "Here, drink this."
Neville nodded, not needing to be told twice, and he sucked obediently at the straw.
"All of it," she said sternly as he tried to give it back after half of it was gone.
Looking quailed, he successfully drank the whole glass, and she took it back from him.
"I guess I needed that," Neville said, and took a deep breath. "Yeah. I'm feeling a bit better already."
"I can't believe you haven't been drinking water, Neville," she scolded, sounding a bit cross. "Really, it's one of the most important things when you're receiving those vile potions for cancer treatment."
"Yeah," he replied softly, "but I have to drink those three times a day. All the rest of the time I have no stomach for anything else." He grimaced as he looked at his pocket watch, which emerged from the loose folds of his waistcoat. Hermione had never noticed him wear the watch before.
"Drat," he said, frowning at the time. "As it happens, it's that time again."
"Where are they?" Hermione asked, and stood to fetch them. Neville shook his head and waved his hand, and a potion in a crystal bottle flew into it.
"They're safe," he said with a shrug, "in the kitchen cabinet."
Hermione watched as he unstoppered the vial, and she touched his arm as he swirled it around, staring it down. He was steeling himself for the swallow.
"How about you eat first," Hermione said, "since it makes your stomach so queasy?"
"I already tried that," Neville said unhappily. "If I eat before, then take it, I end up puking my guts out in the loo."
She shook her head. "Have you tried eating, and then waiting an hour to take the medicine?"
He looked a little bewildered. "No. But then I wouldn't be on schedule."
Ah, so here was a place she already could help him. If Hermione knew anything about anything, she knew about schedules.
"Then here's what we'll do," she said succinctly. "Tonight, we'll eat now, and tonight take your potion an hour late. It won't make that much of a difference," she said as he began to argue, "I think any healer would agree with me that delaying by a short while will have a minimal impact. Have you ever forgotten to take it, and taken it late?"
"A few times," Neville acknowledged, and the shame in his face indicated that it was more than a few times indeed.
"Did you feel any ill effects from taking it late?" Hermione asked, sensing that she was getting bossy, but so what? Neville needed a bit of bossiness in his life right now.
"Not really," he admitted, and he tried to smile at her. It was weak, but it was good.
"Then let's do it," she said. "We'll get some food into you now, and then an hour later, you'll take the potion. Understood?"
"Yes, 'Mione," he said softly, and smiled. It was a little bit of a stronger smile now. She couldn't tell if it was real or just Gryffindor courage, however.
"Good," she said briskly, and clapped her hands for an elf.
Neville shook his head when nothing happened.
"I... told them not to come in here," Neville said, his face brightening up. "I thought it would please you, to see I wasn't relying on their... slave labor? Is that what you called it?"
Hermione's jaw dropped. Nearly to the point where it was unrescuable.
"You thought it would please me?" she asked, her voice breaking as she said the words.
"Yeah," Neville said, and was clearly already doubting this plan. "What, erm, did I do the wrong thing? You've always been so passionate about their rights," he went on, blathering and clearly feeling worse and worse with every word he spoke. "You did so much to advance the cause of S.P.E.W., I thought it would make you happy to see I wasn't abusing them like you always said we did."
"Oh, Neville," Hermione said, her heart breaking as she looked at his piteous face. "I don't think that way anymore."
"Really?" he asked, confused. "So you think it's all right to abuse them?"
"No!" Hermione said, her voice becoming angry. "Not at all! Just... I came to have a different kind of understanding, about the house elves," she said, feeling ashamed of herself in every regard. Her mind floated back to the situation with Lowly and Fancy, and her cheeks burned with shame.
That was once incident where she was shown just how much she had an impact on the world around her. Now, here she was, being shown that very same lesson in a completely different way.
She felt incredibly guilty, because she was sure that no matter how nice Neville was in telling the elf not to come to tend to him, the self-abuse perpetrated by the elf to their ears was incomprehensible. That, and Neville could have been truly benefiting from an extra pair of hands, someone taking care of him, for these past few months.
In fact, Hermione felt like she was personally responsible for Neville's poor self-care for the past several months - she'd indirectly contributed to it in a major way.
At least she was going to help to fix it. If it wasn't too late. She hoped it wasn't too late. Neville looked ghostly pale in the dim room.
"Now, I understand a little bit more about them," Hermione said, and took a deep breath. "But I'll explain more once I summon one." She clapped again, and called out specifically, "Minty?"
Minty dutifully showed up after a few moments of hesitation, and she glanced around the bedroom, and up at Neville with a great deal of anxiety in her eyes.
"Master Neville doesn't like elves," she said with a brief curtsy, "Does Minty have permission to serve the Mistress Hermione here?"
"Yes," Neville said, his face turning darker with worry. "I... I didn't mean that you have to be afraid to come here, Minty."
Hermione felt a flutter of gratitude that Neville was astute enough to pick up on the elf's name after Hermione's single use. That meant he wasn't quite as out of it as she feared.
"Then does Minty have permission to serve the Mistress Hermione?" asked Minty carefully, looking as if she was walking on eggshells.
"Of course," Neville said with a heavy wave of his hand, and it landed back in his lap. "Any elf can come and go as they please. It seems like it's silly to trouble you over me, but I think Hermione wants you to resume taking care of me."
Minty raised her little elf eyebrows attentively. "Certainly, Master Neville," she said with another curtsy. "Lucky will be honored to serve you again, and will swing the great front door of Hogwarts on his hands if Lucky serves Master Neville to your satisfaction."
Neville looked horrified. "That won't be necessary," he said, shaking his head with a shiver. "Please don't."
"It seems as if Master Neville forbids Lucky from punishing himself," Hermione said strictly, and gave Minty an intense look. "And that goes for you as well, Minty."
Minty bowed. "Minty hears," she said with a nod, and she asked, "What does Mistress Hermione wish from Minty tonight?"
"A bit of broth," Hermione said, "and biscuits, and porridge, and sliced tomatoes, some fizzy water, and some chips."
"Right away," Minty said, and dashed away.
Neville smiled at Hermione with a sense of other-worldliness. "I wish," he whispered, but stopped himself.
"What?" Hermione asked, turning herself to focus completely on him.
"I'm going to sound so silly," Neville said, and a blush rose on his cheeks.
"Don't worry about that," Hermione said, "go on."
He took a moment to steel himself, but there was a flicker of trust in his eyes. "I wish that you'd sit in bed with me," he said, trying to sound brave. Instead he just sounded adorable.
"Of course," Hermione said, "and more besides, if you like."
"Oh," Neville said, and his cheeks flushed an even deeper red. "Would you... hold me?"
"Yes," Hermione said, "I'm glad you asked."
With that, she heaved herself up out of the chair, and clambered onto the bed, carefully over his knobby knees, and she lay alongside him and spooned him.
He sighed with contentment, and snuggled against her, breathing deeply.
"I'm... I'm glad you're here," he murmured, sounding wistful. "I just wish it wasn't because I'm sick."
Hermione clasped him tighter. "Nonsense," she said, "It's not just because you're sick."
He was quiet for a moment, and her hands felt around the area she was holding onto. It was, predictably, his belly area - not that there was anything significant there now. She felt through the layered blankets for an idea of what they were hiding, and she found the loose skin of his formerly pronounced tummy move under her fingers. She also, with some movement, found his ribs.
"In fact," she said deftly, "I was more attracted to you when you had a little bit of something here." She patted the thin rubbery belly that he had, and he shuddered.
"You're joking," he said, and the clarity and awakeness of his voice were a testament to his shock.
"I'm not," Hermione said, taking a deep breath, pressing her own soft growing mound of belly against his spine. "Why, what do you like?"
"I... can't say, for sure," Neville said, his voice back to its dismal tones. He took a deep breath that filled his diaphragm, and exhaled. "I like you, though. Whatever you look like."
Hermione felt her heart melt. "Oh," she murmured, and pulled him closer to her. "You poor dear," she said, and pressed her forehead against the back of his neck. "We're going to get you back to normal," she said energetically. "We'll get you well again."
He turned over to face her, with effort. His breath reeked, but he didn't seem to be aware of it. She knew it was probably the potions, and the dehydration. "Thank you," he said softly, and laid his head on her plump chest. "With you, I know we will."
She felt like she was leading him on. That's what she was feeling.
As she spoon-fed him porridge and sliced tomatoes - all of what she'd ordered for him was breakfast food, she realized - he chewed and swallowed obediently. She didn't over-feed him, because she knew he couldn't take much.
She also had no idea what he liked, sexually. It would be too much of a coincidence if he happened to be interested in the kink she shared with Severus. But, she thought, that was why poly was a good idea. It helped provide some diversity in peoples' lives. She could figure out other things to do with Neville. If they ever got to that point.
Though as she laid him down to sleep, after a meager cup's worth of food - she'd measured - and promised to come back tomorrow and go down with him to breakfast, she felt her conscience rumble, along with her stomach. Her plan had been to eat two dinners, and she was feeling peckish. She hadn't planned on Neville being nearly as sick as he was, and she hadn't wanted to disturb him before taking his potion with the scent of heavy food.
Severus, she saw when she returned back to his rooms, was donned in his dressing gown, and wearing his glasses, and laying on the sofa on his belly, with his computer before him.
He looked up in surprise at her.
"That was fast," he said casually, as if nothing had happened when she had left the room.
"Yeah," Hermione said, and sat down where he made room for her next to him on the couch. She was surprised to see him so receptive to her, and she wondered what on earth she was in for. "He's really not doing well. He couldn't remember the last time he drank even a glass of water."
"Poor sod," Severus said, his face latched onto hers. "I trust you took care of him as best you could."
"Absolutely," she said, and she sighed. "I really don't want him to die."
"That won't happen," he said with a shrug. "I can't remember ever anyone in the wizarding world dying of cancer."
"Really?" Hermione asked, and she realized she believed him. "Oh. Well. I suppose. Cancer is really a big Muggle thing."
"I know," he said dryly, shutting his computer with a bit of a huff. "But it isn't here."
Hermione nodded. "Are you okay?" she asked, reaching out to take off his glasses.
She couldn't help but notice his eyes were a little raw, but they shone keenly at her as she removed them and put them on the sidetable.
In response, he grabbed her around the waist and drew her on top of him, kissing her deeply, using subtle and tantalizing tonguing.
"Oh," she sighed, reciprocating fervently. She wasn't exactly sure how he was, but she could tell that there was something going on in his Slytherin head. She would just have to wait and see what would happen.
Hermione went and took care of Neville for at least an hour every day for the next week. Sometimes she spent a little more time with him, depending on Snape's mood and what she thought Neville needed.
At first, Snape was excessively grumpy about it, but after a time, he seemed to get used to the idea. The more that it became a routine, the less he seemed to object.
Particularly given how asexual the arrangement was, Severus soon seemed fairly comfortable with the arrangement. In fact, Severus seemed to grow more and more easy with the arrangement in large part because she proceeded as usual with Severus in terms of her eating. She kept up a strict diet - eating an increasing number of calories on a daily basis. It soon became clear to her that anything else was unlikely to yield results.
And Severus also used his skills to enhance her growth. While Hermione wanted to continue holding off on the more excessive potions, he did provide her (when she requested it) with some of the potions they'd used before - the one that enhanced her capacity, if temporarily, tended to be her favorite.
By November 17th, Hermione had put on a hefty fourteen pounds in seven days, and she and Severus were planning to go out to Hogsmeade for the evening as a celebration of such success.
Neville had recovered substantially from his weakness of the previous week - a good amount of what he'd undergone in terms of his weakness was dehydration, they decided - and Hermione was having her second breakfast of the day with him.
Stuffing herself at the staff table, Hermione mused wickedly at the way that Neville's clothes weren't nearly as stringy and unfitting as they'd been a scarce week previously. She also saw the way his cheeks were maintaining their color a lot better, and she felt glad at the sight.
A happy thought struck her - she was largely responsible for his increasing heartiness and good health. She had watched him wane away for so many weeks, and yet with just a little bit of care, he was doing substantially better.
Hermione was pleased with the sight of this, and she poked him in the arm as he sat down.
"How are we this morning?" she asked, putting down her book and proceeding to turn a smile at him.
Neville had a tendency to blush furiously whenever she interacted with him. He did so now, profusely.
"Doing, erm, quite better, I think," he said, and he smiled back at her. She pushed the sugar bowl in his direction, and with a compliant but long-suffering sigh, he accepted it. His application of sugar on his porridge was insubstantial, and she corrected his estimate once he'd finished by taking the sugar spoon and adding another few heaping spoonfulls, along with some raisins and berries.
"Oh come now," Neville said, his face settling into a good-humored grimace, "don't tell me I've got to eat all that. Haven't I've been putting it on well recently? I ought to lay off the sweets."
"Well, if you insist," Hermione said, shrugging, "be my guest. But don't forget," she added, and she leaned closer to Neville until she was whispering in his ear, "I like my lovers like I like my meals - substantial, and fattening."
This meant Neville nearly fainted from the amount of blood that rushed to his ears. "Can't argue with that," he said, after a dry swallow, and he picked up his spoon dutifully. "Yes, 'Mione, I shall indeed attempt to do justice to this bowl of porridge. With gusto."
She laughed gently at him, and he smiled back at her. They had settled into a pattern of indulgent banter back and forth, her coddling him and badgering him to eat, and him acting reluctant. It seemed to suit their relationship - and he wasn't really reluctant, as of course they both knew. But in the public of the Great Hall, Hermione found that this pattern was more comfortable for them both than allowing him to simply indulge gluttonously. Not that he was able to indulge gluttonously, given his lack of appetite, of course... but in any case, this seemed to be working.
Hermione proceeded to push the bacon in his direction, as he was scraping the bottom of his bowl of porridge, and he groaned at her. "Not bacon," he moaned, "didn't I eat enough of that for you yesterday?"
"Three rashers is hardly *substantial,*" purred Hermione, "I fully expect you to surpass that this morning. Four, or you shall not have my company again for breakfast tomorrow."
"Really?" Neville asked, and there was worry in his voice as he dropped the play-acting.
"No, of course not," Hermione said. "Eat what you can. You already had quite a bit of porridge. That's very good for you."
"All right," Neville said, and he began to nibble at the rashers of bacon that sat in front of him.
Then Hermione felt the heavy - though near-silent - tread of a familiar step at her side. She swerved her head around to see Severus, looking immensely satisfied with himself.
"Professor Longbottom," Severus said smoothly in greeting, and then he reached over Hermione's began to serve himself from the platter of bacon. "Good morning to you. Professor Granger," he added, a strange and interesting twinkle - twinkle?! - in his eye. "Good morning to you as well."
"Good morning, Professor Snape," Hermione said, biting back a laugh. She wasn't entirely sure what he was doing down here for breakfast, of all things - she'd already eaten with him in her rooms just prior. It wasn't as if he were actually that hungry, or so she thought.
No, there was something else going on in his head.
She waited patiently until he sat down, a heaping plateful of bacon and eggs in front of him, on Neville's left, and out of Hermione's reach.
"What are you doing tonight, Longbottom?" asked Snape quietly, in a voice just loud enough that Hermione was barely able to hear.
"I... I don't know," Neville said, "aren't you and Hermione going out to Hogsmeade?"
"Yes," Severus said, "and I'd like, with Hermione's consent, to invite you to come along with us."
Neville looked genuinely terrified at the idea.
"Um. Why?" asked Neville, premeditated visions surging through his mind at such a rapid pace that Hermione didn't need legilimency skills to see them.
"Because," Severus said, settling back in his chair with an easy grace that seemed unachieveable for someone of his bulk. "I'd like to have dinner with the both of you. Get to know the man *my partner*" (he emphasized the words with such an enunciation that they seemed to drip from his mouth sensually) "seems to enjoy so much."
"I, erm, would be pleased to, sir," Neville said, and the lie was bald.
Hermione and Severus stole a glance, and Hermione could tell that Snape was actually a bit nervous about this, despite his comparative ease. "Come on, Neville," Hermione said encouragingly, "It won't be so bad. If you don't want to, you don't have to."
Neville took a glance between Hermione and Severus, looking trapped and worried. Then, summoning his bravery, he said, "I'll be there. Let's meet after classes then, shall we? Outside on the front steps?"
"Sounds fine to me," Severus said, brushing some crumbs off the front of his shirt. "Hermione?"
"Yes," agreed the witch pleasantly. Hermione's heart began to thrum with excitement, and her over-stuffed tum began to churn with anticipation and some anxiety. "I... I need to finish this chapter before class," she said, gesturing to the book she'd been reading before Neville showed up, "Severus, would you sit next to me?"
"With pleasure, my dear," Severus rumbled, and there was a smugness and satisfaction in his voice as he got up and moved his valuable arse to the chair next to her, which was better suited to his expanding form anyway. He'd been the good metamour, Hermione could see, reading between the lines. She highly suspected Erika had something to do with this invitation.
Either way, Neville continued picking away at his bacon, and Severus set about swallowing his with considerably greater fervor.
Pushing away her own plate, and replacing it with her book, Hermione extended her legs in either direction. She found Severus' foot waiting for her on one side, and Neville's ready to receive her on the other.
What a glorious course of events, to have two men so deeply interested in her that they were willing to both eat breakfast with her?
Hermione had no idea what she must have done to deserve this, but she was immensely grateful. She could only hope that she would be able to ensure she kept them both feeling loved, cared for, and admired, as much as was within her control.
And moreover, she was feeling quite proud of Severus. Probably not as proud as he was of himself, but still, what he'd done was really setting the stage for a positive experience with Neville. He was helping her with this relationship, despite his own emotional misgivings. And that, she thought, was beautiful.
She told him so, as they left the Great Hall together, arm in arm as he escorted her to the dungeons, since Neville had to head out to the greenhouses.
"Beautiful?" he asked for clarification, and if they hadn't been walking and focusing on getting her to class on time, she imagined he'd have blushed a little bit more. "That... no one's ever said that about anything I've done, before. Not that I can recall," he said faintly, and then, after a minute or so of silence, he abruptly stopped, and pulled them aside into an alcove behind a suit of armor. "No," he said, pausing and turning towards her. "No one has. I'm certain of it."
There was a darkness in his eyes, a fire of entropy, and Hermione felt the intensity of them nearly overwhelm her.
"Please," he said, and he was looking at the floor. "Please say it again."
"I think it's beautiful," Hermione said, standing up on tiptoe and kissing him on his awkward large nose. "It's a beautiful thing, what you're doing. Making things comfortable for him. It might be uncomfortable in the short run, but it will ease things over for the future. And it's beautiful that you're thinking about this situation with that kind of foresight."
She added, thoughtfully, pressing her fingers into his soft double-chin and turning his head up, to meet her eyes, "And you, are too, by the way. You are beautiful."
He seemed unsure of how to respond, and refused to look at her anymore, instead returning to stare at the ground. His chest heaved, and Hermione sensed he could use closeness.
"I love you," she said, embracing him warmly. "And I hope that someday, you can tell me that you love me, too."
There was a deep, warm silence between them as her words seemed to settle around them like a heavy mantle of warmth.
Then, the first bell rang, and the tepid trickle of students heading to class became a river, and the noise of it was invigorating.
He seemed to take it as reassuring. Leaning in towards her ear, he whispered lowly, “Hermione, how do you think I could not love you?”
Her breath was completely taken away at that moment by a deep and probing kiss. He seemed not to want to talk about it, though, and he let go of her almost as suddenly as he’d initiated. “Now go to your class,” he said with a smirk, and patted her firmly on the buttocks. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Feeling her heart light and airy, Hermione practically skipped to class.