Author's Note: I do not own in any way, shape, or form, the Harry Potter series or its characters and am making no money from writing this. I fully blame Professeur-Snape on DeviantArt for this fic. It's all his fault that I had the idea. But here it is, and I simply cannot bring myself to be sorry.
He takes his baths before she gets home, in the time between classes and dinner in the Great Hall, and is careful to dry the tub and towels with charms after. She always Floos home and pauses, sniffing the air in perplexion, unable to name the scent that lingers. He's never told her about it - it's his ritual, his private solitude, and besides -
Severus Snape would never be caught dead taking a bubble bath in the first place, let alone almost daily.
No one living knows about it. Albus Dumbledore had found out after Severus started teaching at Hogwarts, but it had taken the manipulative old goat five years. After that, however, Severus's Christmas gift from Albus ceased being a subscription to Potions Monthly and started being elaborate gift baskets from a shoppe in Diagon Alley. Each basket was stuffed with that vile shredded paper, tied with ribbons in lurid shades of pink and purple, and filled with the most vomit-inducing floral-scented bubble bath in cut-glass vials as humanly possible.
Each one was shoved into a tightly-warded closet where they remained. Each Christmas morning the closet door was opened and a new, untouched basket tossed in to rot among its brethren. Often, Severus reflected that the only good thing about Albus's demise was that he no longer had to add to the closet. When he was forced to pass the warded door in order to get to something else, he would sneer or quickly avert his gaze, embarrassed all over again at his own weakness.
Severus tossed his robes over the bed and headed for their bathroom to start the water running. It was a magnificent bathtub, luxurious black marble and more than large enough for two, which he and Hermione had tested – at length – when she'd first moved in with him.
Naked, he lowered himself slowly into the rising water with a hiss. Merlin, it was hot: the water always did get too warm too quickly in the spring. He adjusted the temperature accordingly before relaxing.
When the water reached his knees he reached up into the hidden pocket among the old stones. Out of sheer paranoia he'd glamoured it and use it to hide away his favourite bubble bath instead of out where the elves could find it, the gossipy little buggers, when he'd first started, and now it kept Hermione from locating it. He pulled out the plastic bottle, feeling the corners of his lips tilt into a smile, and squeezed it over the spigot.
A few drops fell into the water, but not enough. Not nearly enough. Slightly panicked, Severus unscrewed the lid and glared into the opaque bottle. Damn, damn, damn. He'd meant to pick up more yesterday, but Hermione had insisted on coming into London with him and there was no bloody way he was going to duck into Marks and Spencer for a new one with her there.
Briefly, he debated sitting in the water without the bubbles, but couldn't bring himself to do it. He was a menace to his classes as it was, and the small ritual of relaxation was necessary to keep from preemptively murdering the students.
Scowling, he slapped off the water and levered himself out of the bathtub, careful to dodge Hermione's Muggle razor and his own utilitarian bar soap on the edge. His witch had a very particular way of placing things and he had no desire to make the nosy woman any more so.
He stalked out of the bathroom as water streamed from his body and left little puddles as he dripped across their dungeon chambers, not finding it in himself to give two shits if he was naked. Elves weren't permitted in their chamber, and Hermione wasn't going to be home until dinner, so who would see his pasty, scarred arse?
The walls had once been bare, but now there were photos affixed with Sticking Charms (some even included himself), and he'd even allowed a few posters in the office by her desk. Her cat must have been roaming the halls, for the fur-covered and squashed pillow was devoid of the beast. He remembered fondly the day they'd gone through their respective book collections, merging and comparing. Less fondly was the morning he realised she'd overtaken more than her half of both the closet and dresser. Her argument that he only seemed to have the one outfit seven times over didn't make it much better.
Severus tapped his wand against his chin at the closet door, his cheeks flaming. He didn't have to do this. He could... he could make his own. Or he could get dressed and head to the spot outside the gates to Apparate... He shook his head angrily. He didn't have the time for either option.
No, he was reduced to this.
With a distasteful grimace, he began unraveling the wards. No choice, he told himself firmly as the last fell away. The door opened with a rusty creak and he coughed, waving away the puff of dust. The baskets mocked him. The old bastard must have enchanted them, because despite the years, none of them were in any sort of decomposition. After a moment's hesitation, he simply grabbed the nearest vial and slammed the door, ashamed.
The wards applied once more, he walked back to the bathroom with as much dignity a naked man carrying a – he looked at the bottle – lavender-and-honeysuckle scented bubble bath could manage.
He bent over the tub and eyed the water level, uncaring of the way his privates dangled over the shampoo bottles. Uncertain just how much the bath would produce, he started the water and poured in just a few drops, then a few more, of the pink liquid before recapping it.
The tub filled quickly with foamy white bubbles and the scent, thankfully, was not too overpowering despite being far more floral than he liked. Severus wrinkled his over-large nose and made a mental note to use a dissipation charm after his bath. No sense in giving the game away at this date. Placing the vial on the marble countertop with a clink, he climbed back into the tub.
Stretching his lean limbs out in the warm water felt wonderful. He kicked the water off at the right level with one foot, and leaned back. His head tilted back onto the wide edge and he relaxed.
His first time in a bathtub, let alone a bubble bath, had been in his second year. All of the boys in his dorm had snuck into the Prefect's Bath, laughing and splashing. He'd been amazed at the sheer size of the tub, the many taps with the hundreds of combinations of bubbles and fragrances. Delighted, he'd played with the taps for several minutes. It wasn't until all of the other boys had gone that he'd gotten into the pool. He'd clung to the side and cautiously tried to float before determinedly paddling around. When he'd tired he sat on a ledge, staying there for a good half-hour, until all the bubbles had gone. Gone was his stress – even as second year he'd been stressed between trying to stay on his dormmate's good sides, classes, and the Marauders.
These days he had his own tub, his own private moment in time to relax. Sweat beaded on his brow in the moist heat of the room, his lips curving into a half-smile. This made teaching those brats worthwhile.
He sighed and wriggled his toes in the water, enjoying himself. The ends of his hair floated lazily on the surface, inky black against the little white bubbles. Oh, how people would laugh at the mental image of Severus Snape, feared Potions Master, double agent, and git of the dungeons, relaxing in a bubble bath.
After several minutes of soaking and listening to the quiet pop of bubbles, he lifted his splayed fingers up. Foam clung to them and he smiled as he watched them burst one by one. His bony knees poked out of the water when he bent his legs. More of the bubbles slowly disappeared as he played with them, making mountains and destroying them with droplets raining from his damp fingertips.
When the water had finally cooled and all the bubbles had gone, Severus stood in the tub and let the water sluice down his limbs, rivulets forming down his belly. His towel, plain and white, hung next to her blue one, and was warm as he rubbed himself dry.
A moment's hesitation, and he shoved the glass vial through the glamour. No sense in letting it go to waste. He shouldn't really leave the castle until the weekend, at any rate.
Absently tucking the towel around his waist and relying on his sharp hip bones to keep it from falling to the floor, Severus set about cleaning up after himself. His ebony wand swished through the air as he set about tidying after himself. The tub was cleaned and dried, the mirror devoid of fogging, and the air cleared of odors.
He felt much better as he slipped into his shirt and buttoned the placket of his trousers. The damp strands of his hair clung to his cheekbones as he tied his dragonhide boots. Each little button on his sleeve was fastened, then the front done up once the cravat was neatly knotted in place.
His secret safe.
With a swirl of robes he hurried to the door and opened it. Hermione would be in her seat already, waiting on him before she'd start her dinner while chatting amiably with the other professors, still dressed in her Ministry robes.
When Severus woke the next morning it was to their chambers empty as always, Hermione off to work. Blearily, he stumbled to the bathroom to find a very familiar plastic bottle with a note tied to it with a pale green ribbon.
You're probably low, it read in his wife's neat round handwriting.
Blushing, Severus picked up the bottle of Royal Jelly Cream Bath and stowed it behind the glamour. He supposed it wasn't such a secret after all.