Vanas Opportunis Chapter 4

“The high and mighty Hermione Granger was a thorn in my side that needed to be plucked and what better way to pluck it than to fuck it?”

The hated words echoed in her ears every night before she went to sleep and every moment’s respite she had, bringing her to a trembling, shaking, angry mass too sensitive to touch, too incensed to speak. Her only answer to control herself was the same it had always been and the same that had apparently led him to her: she’d bury herself in academia.

She was too smart for his liking? Too bad. She spent more time in the library, reading up on every potion, every ingredient she could so he could never catch her unawares in class again.

She was too questioning? Too engaged in class? Very well, she could learn to shut up…in his class at least. Why would she want his attention anymore, anyway? That didn’t mean she wouldn’t throw herself into every other class discussion she could to keep herself from daydreaming about every touch or breath or shudder he’d ever produced on her body.

And if Harry and Ron distanced themselves a bit over her new hyde-like behavior, not understanding why she was snappish and rude when she wasn’t completely ignoring them, well, then, so be it. If she learned nothing else from her time with him it was that she was perfectly fine on her own.

Alone.

Like right now, at Saturday luncheon.

The boys made some excuse to head out to the Quidditch pitch for practice early and made it clear they felt she should stay behind. Fine. She pushed her peas around on her plate and tried to make a pea-pyramid with her fork just to pass the time and use up her concentration in some other way than going back to library. Despite his opinion, even she got tired of reading sometimes.

“Hermione?”

She blinked and looked up to her right. “Oh, hi, Neville.”

“May I sit with you for a bit?”

“Of course.” This should be interesting. Then again, maybe he just needed her help remembering something. Or maybe not. He’d been improving rather well over the years.

“I—” He looked down the table and Colin motioned to him encouragingly. Hermione started to get a suspicion in her mind where this was going and started forming a response—

“I know you’ve been going through a rough bit, and I don’t know who it’s over, but if you’re not going to the Yule Ball with anyone, would you mind going with me…” He swallowed, “A-as just friends?”

If there had been any flies permitted in the Great Hall they would have taken up residence in her mouth. She just stared at him, shell-shocked at his insight. She took a deep breath and stared at the fork poised over her gang of peas, trying to think of what to say.

“It’s okay, I understand.” He started shifting off, but she reached out and grabbed his arm by the sweater.

“Wait, Neville!”

He sat back down with a bit of a plop and looked back at her, confusion and curiosity evident.

“I’d love to go to the Ball with you…” She winced, looked down at her plate and back over to him through her bangs, “have I really been that…obvious? You’re being incredibly sweet, but…” Was he pitying her?

“Oh! No!” His face shook, smiled, then shook again. “No, it’s not like that! I just thought it’d be nice to show a strong front to whoever set you on your ear, that’s all.” He looked over her shoulder but back to her before she could see who he’d glanced at. “I know how it feels, only.”

She was trying very hard not to cry. “Neville, you’re the best!” She hugged him fiercely and they discussed that next Friday. She’d not forgotten that he was one of the ones that smelled like that musky-yum, but it reminded her so much of him she couldn’t possibly deviate her thoughts of Neville in that direction.

Sadly.


“Why did you pick me?”

How dare she ask him such an impertinent question! It made him think about the whim choices he’d made before, circumstance, ease, availability…never such vindictive focus as with her. Or if he had made vindictive choices, the circumstances had been entirely different.

She invaded his mind more than he felt safe acknowledging. Witch, in more ways than one, for there’d been no spells or incantations on her part. Just pure, unadulterated lust and it had been, as she’d said,entirely his own fault.

That made the necessary excising of the festering need for her that much more difficult…irritating…painful. He gritted his teeth and made a few more third-years quail before him. Bitch. He couldn’t even find the focus to hunt down another seventh-year to take her out of his mind, the feel of her off of his body.

DAMN it all! And Damn HER!

He swept into his office and caught sight of himself in a mirror. THE mirror. The one that could get him sacked for her viewing his mark on her neck from their first free and conscious night together.

The first consensual sex he’d had in decades.

He sneered, the maudlin thought sending him striding to the mirror and ripping it from its hook on the wall. He nearly hurled it across the room, but superstition checked him. Walking sedately with the mirror held at fingertips over to his desk…the one he probably needed to replace now because he couldn’t look at it without thinking about her…he sat down and looked into it.

Would it play the scene for him? How much would it play? He let himself have a moment of weakness, told himself it was cursory self-preservation to find out, and let the scene play before him.

She was…

He pulled his fingers away from the mirror and watched impassively.

The mirror was angled more dangerously than he’d thought, for just as he’d noticed he was admiring her backside as she stalked towards him at his desk, he noticed he tenor of the conversation the mirror was catching. It wasn’t damning enough that this mirror held information on their liaison, but her spilling his trysting secrets to the open air as well?

He chucked the mirror into an ingredient bin, muttering obliterate as he did so. It shattered into a satisfying array of shards, but started repeating the last bit of conversation he wanted to hear:

point at me all you like…yourself to blame…neatly…yourfault.yourfault.yourfault.yourfault. yourfault.”

He glared and shrieked “Incendio!” at the offending pieces of glass, blasting it into a molten pile of nothing.

There. Much better.

Now the only danger to himself was his own mind and the possibility of Granger running to Dumbledore, but he rather thought she wouldn’t. She was too Gryffindor for that.


Hermione was too Gryffindor. She’d not made him promise never to touch a seventh-year again, just only when he was with her. And the tenor of their agreement wasn’t that she would rat on him as soon as it was over, either. She just couldn’t bring herself to do it, no matter how much seeing him every day made her ache, burn, tremor…cry.

She was starting to miss him, and it wasn’t fair. He’d had NO RIGHT to say those awful words to her and she’d started having a terrible suspicion that he’d said them on purpose. That he’d been scared.

Just as scared as she was.

So she made plans with Neville for both of them to be in their very finest. Hermione was better at Transfiguration, and as such, was given the task of improving their wardrobe. She’d set him up with a smart set of dress robes in a dark navy velvet trimmed in the tiniest matching blue satin cord. The cut was acquired from the latest Witch Weekly: Fashion Edition and she hoped it would suit him well. It was to be layered over black silk trousers and shirt along with a navy blue tie. She shrugged and left the rest of the details for his fitting.

Her dress, however, was going to be smashing. Black lace, looking slightly tattered and torn, swirled in a tornado around dark navy silk cutaway at opportune places on a column dress. Tiny spaghetti straps, a draped neckline far too low for her mother’s standards and black stilettos wrapped it all together with Midnight Orchids charmed into her hair.

She dressed herself and sent Neville his clothing from the common room.

“Hermione! You look amazing!”

She turned to find Ginny in an absolutely elegant white-gold gown, showing off her subtle curves. She smiled and peeked at Harry who looked a bit bowled over and Ron, who looked a bit torn between murderous and proud.

“Thank you, so do you!”

Harry stepped forward and smiled. “We weren’t sure you were going.”

“I know.” From his expression, that had been surprising for her to admit that, but she continued, “I’m sorry. I’m working on that.”

He beamed at her and carefully gave her a hug, which she carefully returned. After all, the Ball hadn’t even begun and it wouldn’t do to ruin the finery!

A cleared throat interrupted them from behind her. She turned and blushed at the sight Neville made. “Well, you look dashing, sir!”

He grinned, blushed back and looked at the floor. “Thanks to you.”

She eyed him to make sure of any last minute changes, “Let’s make sure it fits.”

“You did this, Hermione?”

She didn’t answer Lavender, but Neville gushed about it. Said he’d never seen anything like it. They all congratulated her on her prowess, but she just smiled her thanks and tweaked his attire to make sure he looked perfect. “There. All done.”

Everyone took that as cue to set out for the Great Hall but Neville hung back. “Hermione?”

“Yes?”

He faced her fully. “I really want to thank you for this. It makes me feel good.”

She smiled, “You know what they say, clothes make the man.”

“No…I mean…to know you did this for me. It means a lot. Thanks.”

She started panicking, wondering if he was going to start in on her, but she took a breath and decided to take it at face value. She smiled, “Neville, you did a lot for me by pointing out that I needed to ‘put on a strong front’ and sharing that you knew what it felt like. Love and war makes for kindred spirits, don’t they?”

He smiled and she knew she’d said the right thing, took it the right way. “Yeah, they do.”

They entered the Great Hall with a resounding success, chins up, smiles plastered on and never missing a step thanks to Hermione’s whispered secret counting trick to Neville. One-and-step, two-and-step, etc. All eyes were on them as they descended the staircase and it felt glorious.

She didn’t even scan the crowd for him. It didn’t matter, but she was fairly sure he was looking, as there was a fairly dark figure in the corner of her eye at the high table standing absolutely still and facing them. It soon moved out the side door. She nearly giggled at the thought that she’d nearly called him—Snape—an IT.

It felt good to finally call him by his name in her head. Snape. Snape, Snape, Snape.

There.

She was no longer a quivering mass of goo at the sound of his name.

She smiled and proceeded to flirt her Sleekeazy curls off.


“Well, that’s been going much better than expected.”

Hermione bent over a balustrade and took a deep breath of fresh air, grinning at her dancing partner. “I’ll say! Parvati and Susan can’t take their eyes off of you.”

She couldn’t tell, but he seemed to be blushing. “Is it one of them?”

He stiffened.

“I’m sorry. It’s not my place.” He kept quiet. “I tell you what though—”

“My, my. Isn’t this the lovely pair?” Hermione snapped her head around in horror. NO! Not HIM. Not Snape, and not NOW. “Out for a moonlight serenade, Longbottom?”

“I-I—”

How could he be so cruel? She mentally kicked herself. Why did she think anything better of him? “It’s not against school rules for students to get some fresh air, Professor.

“This is true, but I wonder at the pretense of obtaining it?”

The insidious scent of him curled around her and she shrank back against Neville. She would not be reduced back to where she was after having such a wonderfully normal time tonight! Not after the lengths Neville had gone to for her!

She shivered as memories of him poured into her mind…was he doing that? No, she’d always felt him riffling around. This was entirely her own unjustifiable desire leftover, unsatisfied, however unwanted it was.

Neville tensed and she remembered how he had stood up to the her, Harry and Ron in first year, stood by them in so many other escapades, proving his worth as a Gryffindor, especially in his fear of Snape. If she revealed herself and her vulnerability to either of them now, Neville would only get hurt. She needed to face Snape, but without Neville.

Glaring daggers at her loathsome lover, she pulled Neville back into the Hall. “Let’s go. The air out here’s not so clean anymore.”

She barely heard him call after her, “Watch your tongue, Granger.”

She had to get him out of here. Now. Then she’d figure out how to deal with…whatever it was about Snape that would not leave her alone.

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