A/N: Hello Everyone! Sorry for not updating lately. I’ve been very busy for the last few months. Thanks for sticking with me this far, and cheers to all that is still to come!
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"Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalized his emotions." -David Borenstein
Hermione descended the staircase leading to the Great Hall. The Ball had already begun and music was echoing in the halls. Hermione picked up the hem of her dress and tripped. Ungracefully, she fell to the floor.
“Damn you, Rowena. How did you convince me to wear heels?!” Hermione asked herself, as she rose from the floor.
As she reached the Great Hall, Hermione took a deep breath. The Hall was fully transformed. Sheets of silver and gold fabric were draped everywhere. A dance floor was situated in the center of the room, and surrounded by comfortable looking chairs. The professors had done their best to give the entire event an air of comfort. The students seemed to be having fun; dancing, laughing, smiling, sitting, and talking. Suddenly, she felt a warm hand on her shoulder.
“Hermione, I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to come down here,” Rowena remarked, removing her hand from the younger witch’s shoulder.
Hermione laughed. For some reason she was feeling very self-conscious.
“What do you think of the decorations?” asked the raven-haired woman.
“The professors did a magnificent job!”
“Minerva was very particular about every detail,” she said.
“Well, it seems to have paid off,” Hermione replied.
“Yes, it has.”
Rowena and Hermione sat down on a bench, laughing hysterically at some private joke. As their laughter subsided, the band drew the waltz to a close. Students and teachers abandoned the dance floor in search of refreshments. In the midst of all the movement, Rowena noticed the doors of the Great Hall creak open. Severus Snape slunk into the room. He looked sharp in a well-tailored black tuxedo, ivory shirt, and emerald tie. He was not traditionally handsome. However, he was far from ugly tonight.
“Excuse me, Hermione. I see my brother has just arrived, and it's my task to ensure he doesn’t take his role as a Byronic hero too seriously,” Rowena said, rising from her seat.
Lately, it had been decided by the boys of Hogwarts that Professor Rowena was attractive enough to forgive her relation to the vile Potions Master. They openly admired her. They plotted to seduce her with help from Weasley products. They would stop and stare whenever she passed by. In fact, a few foolish and brave young men were plotting to win her affections as she strode towards her brother.
“I suppose I should be happy that you’re here, at last,” she said to Severus.
“I withheld my end of the bargain. Would you rather I left?” he said sarcastically.
Rowena sighed audibly. Severus responded with a fierce and pointed look.
“I’m glad you wore the tuxedo. I’ll admit, I was afraid you might just burn it and show up in your teaching robes. “
“I’m full of surprises.”
“Ha! Very funny indeed.”
“I have a feeling that you’re going somewhere with this, little sister, and I don’t like it.”
“Well, if you’re going to be so sarcastic, I’m going to make you pay the price. Why don’t you surprise me with a dance?”
Severus knew that Rowena never made idle threats. So, he decided it was best to give in and dance with her.
Behind them, a few sixth and seventh year boys were openly admiring Rowena’s figure. Severus gave them exceedingly dirty looks to tame their raging hormones. Among the young men was Ronald Weasley. Suddenly, Severus spotted him, and his normal scowl turned more malicious than had ever been previously witnessed.
“What’s the matter?” Rowena asked, genuinely concerned.
“Nothing,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Severus, who-the-devil are you glaring at?”
“Teenage wizards…” he mumbled, frowning so deeply that Rowena feared he might kill someone.
Rowena laughed to break the tension.
“Boys will be boys. They can look all they please, because there’s in no way in Heaven, Hell, or Merlin’s beard that they will ever have anything more than a glance,” she said with ease.
“Severus, I am glad you came.”
“It’s the least I could do. It would be un-brotherly to leave you alone. You could have been molested by those unsightly dunderheads,” he replied.
“Well…” Rowena began.
“What are you getting at now?”
“There’s one more little thing I’d like you to do for me.”
“Miss Granger is all dressed up and she has no one to dance with.”
“Why don’t you pester Mr. Weasley with that request?”
“I’d rather not give him permission to prey on her.”
“Oh. So, you want her to dance with me? What have you done to mess with your normally impressive intellect?! I will not risk my reputation and ruin hers.”
“It’s only one dance.”
“There are implications attached to dancing,” he said, growing uneasy.
“Do this one thing for me and I will let you leave for Northamptonshire tonight after the ball. That way you get two whole days to yourself before I get there.”
“Don’t argue. The last thing I want is for another bright Hogwarts student to become a grouchy old Professor,” she said pointedly.
“Fine, but I expect a full forty-eight hours of uninterrupted solitude.”
“You will have my home entirely to yourself provided you dance with Miss Granger. She looks lovely tonight.”
“I hardly see how that…”
Severus stumbled towards Hermione. He had all the grace and charm of a gangly teenager, yet she had never seen him look better. He made a small bow in front of her and held out his hand. She looked at him dumbly. He silently questioned her intelligence.
“Would you like to dance, Miss Granger?” he prompted, deciding that the customary non-verbal signals had failed.
Hermione couldn’t speak. Words had failed her for the first time in her life. She was so overcome by his astonishing appearance.
“It’s a simple yes or no question, Miss Granger. It is not as if I am asking you to recite the names of famous Quidditch players from the 1700‘s.”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Are you saying that you think I’m asking you to recite names of Seekers and the like? Or are you saying something else entirely?”
“No. I mean yes… I mean that I would like to dance. Thank you,” Hermione replied, taking hold of herself.
Severus took her hand and was surprised that she did not pull away from him. Most young women would be repulsed at the mere thought of touching him. Although he would never admit it aloud, he thought Hermione looked unnaturally attractive this evening. This only served to confuse him further. Why would a beautiful and promising young woman agree to dance with him?