Author's Note: Worry – you want it, you got it! Many thanks to adelarchersnape for her beta-reading, but all errors are totally mine because I just can't leave well enough alone. Based on a lovely little “kiss cam” plot bunny that Worrywart posted tonight and I had to write it in between boss fights. I regret nothing.
A Cold Kiss
In retrospect, Hermione thought sourly as she shoved her frozen, mitten-shrouded hands under the relative warmth of her cloak, she should never have introduced Ron to the telly and Muggle sports. Worse, he had replaced Rolanda as the flying instructor and resident referee for Quidditch matches.
As if their break-up hadn't been unpleasant enough, now Hermione had to see him chewing with his mouth open—one of her personal pet peeves and one of the things she had shouted at him the morning their rather volatile relationship had ended—every day. Of course, being a professor herself, this also meant she had to see his stupidly happy face every match, as her presence was more or less required in the stands.
Her only solace, Hermione reflected miserably, was that Snape was just as displeased with Ron's appointment as she was. It gave the two of them common ground and they had, for the most part, ceased to bicker and snipe each chance they got, and instead chatted more amiably and picked topics for animated discussions involving a great deal of scowling—Snape—and quoting of books—her.
She didn't mind the arguing, not really. Snape was a heated debater and she enjoyed the back-and-forth. The sarcasm was fine, too. In fact, she found herself giggling over some of the more creative ones when she went over them later in bed. Actually, she thought about him a lot.
Too often for her own good, in ways that would make almost anyone blush.
Hermione shivered violently, broken out of her reverie by the simple all-encompassing cold. Whatever had possessed Ron to think that winter games were a grand idea? New Quidditch rules for ice and snow?
Never mind that, she knew.
With the bloody telly.
“Stop shivering,” Snape snapped. “You're going to shake me right off the bench.”
Hermione sniffed. He looked just as cold as she did, his nose and cheeks bright pink in the January air. Not for the first time, she noticed him looking distrustfully across the Quidditch pitch at the large white, well... she'd call it a screen.
She didn't want to know what Ron had planned for that. He had been far too pleased with himself over it.
“I can't help it,” Hermione managed back. Her teeth were chattering. “This is ridiculous. I don't know how the students aren't going back to the castle en masse.”
“Because they're idiots.” He looked down his nose at her. “Also, there are more of them and they are crammed together. Whereas we professors are fewer.”
“Not that I'd want to cuddle up to anyone anyway,” Hermione said with a frown. She wouldn't have minded Hagrid, but he was down in the Gryffindor crowd with a gaggle of third years he'd grown close to, Omnioculars pressed to his bearded face. Bastard looked toasty warm to her.
Snape snorted, adjusting his black scarf. “That's a lie, Granger. You've practically pushed me off the damn bench as it is.”
She shrugged, watching the teams fly past. Something was happening on the screen and she squinted at it, pointing over to it and hoping to distract. The last thing she needed was him to realise her attraction to his snarky self. He'd be insufferable. “What's going on with that?”
“Haven't the faintest,” Snape said bitterly. He blew on his fingers, his breath steaming. Not for the first time, she wondered why he wore fingerless gloves in the winter and didn't bother with a hat. She pulled her own knitted atrocity further down to cover the bottoms of her ears. Her hair would fluff it back up and she'd have to pull it down again in a bit, but if she tied it on she looked rather silly. “I've been tuning Weasley out at meals. I can't stand listening to him prattle on. Bad enough Minerva hired him but he seems to insist on sitting on my half of the table and chewing with his mouth open. I'm inclined to hex him, but the paperwork when you hex a colleague is tedious.”
Hermione giggled. “As if you'd get caught.”
Snape's lips lifted in what passed for a smile, but looked more like a grimace. She liked it. “Minerva can always tell.”
She gave a mock sigh of disappointment.
Hermione shrieked and ducked, pressing into Snape as the Ravenclaw seeker, chasing after a charmed snowball, darted over the teacher's box. She felt him chuckle as she righted herself. “Merlin's knees, Granger, you're jumpy.”
She sniffed again and shoved her fingers back under her cloak. She couldn't feel her nose any more. The screen across the way flickered—was she imagining things, or was that an enlarged image of the Slytherin Keeper?
Her eyes widened. It was!
Merlin's frozen tree, had Ron figured out how to do a Wizarding Jumbotron?
There was a cheer from the stands as the screen showed the Hufflepuff students. Hermione sat, stunned, her side still pressed against Snape. “How...”
“Ah. So that's why he was asking me about the enchantments and potions used in Foeglasses,” Snape said rather faintly. “I do hope your erstwhile ex isn't planning on using that thing for all of the annoyances Muggles do.”
She blinked snow out of her eyes and looked at him. “You know about Jumbotrons?”
Snape's shoulders hunched and he mumbled: “I like football.”
Hermione couldn't tell if he was blushing because of the cold, but she wanted to think he was, and decided not to say anything. Instead, she risked the bitter wind and patted his arm companionably. “Well, whatever he's got planned, it can't be too terrible, can it?”
Just then, the screen focused on a pair of Slytherins and the words “KISS! KISS! KISS!” scrolled across the bottom of the image.
Hermione froze, and it had nothing to do with the icy air. “Oh no. He didn't.”
Snape was silent for a long while as his students laughed, pointed, and finally exchanged a brief kiss. “I am afraid he did, Granger.”
A roar went up as the Ravenclaw chasers scored, and the screen found a new couple to target.
“But how?” Hermione blustered.
Snape's voice was low and tight with displeasure as the screen found a third couple, a fourth, and so on. “Whatever he's done, and I would wager his brother was involved in some way, appears to be choosing targets at random. However...those he is choosing are students who I've caught several times in the halls.”
“Well, at least it's people who have feelings for each other,” Hermione murmured over the cheers. She shuddered as a gust threatened to steal her scarf, then spat hair out of her mouth. She couldn't imagine if this had been around in her school days and she had been forced to kiss, say, Neville or, Merlin forbid, Cormac again.
Snape tilted his head, considering. “Perhaps. I wasn't aware of the couple that just kissed, however.”
Hermione glanced at the screen. “They look happy about it, though. Perhaps it was a mutual thing and they didn't know?”
“Perhaps,” he drawled again. She saw him shiver and draw his cloak more tightly around his thin form. “Damn it, Corhey fumbled again. If I owe Minerva twenty galleons again I'm going to throttle our Keeper...”
She laughed, pulling her hat down again.
Next to her, Snape stiffened, and Hermione searched the Pitch to see what had caught his attention. Had a Chaser been struck by a bludger?
“Granger,” Snape said in a strangled voice.
“Hmm?” She squinted at the far-off Seekers.
The crowd chanted something.
“Granger,” he said again, a little more urgently.
Now she heard the crowd more clearly. “Kiss!” they chanted. “Kiss! Kiss!”
Hermione dared a look at the screen, then froze in a way that had nothing to do with the cold seeping into her bones and turning her cheeks to ice.
For there, on the screen, enlarged for all and sundry to see, was the image of her and Snape, sitting huddled on the bench. “Kiss!” the screen flashed. It didn't move on, and even the players ceased their game to cheer for the two professors staring in horror at the screen. A rogue Bludger rocketed past, but no one noticed.
Hermione turned woodenly at the feel of a hand on her shoulder, looking at his thin pale fingers in surprise. His gaze was shuttered and closed, but his hand lifted from her shoulder to tunnel into her hair. Snape's hand cupped the back of her head and she leaned forward in willing disbelief as her eyes fluttered shut.
His lips brushed over hers tentatively and her hand tangled in his cloak of its own volition. His lips were cold, and blessedly not chapped and Hermione let out a low moan. Snape's response was a rumble that came from his chest and she would later swear she could feel through his layers and her mittens.
She sighed and pulled him closer. He smelled like juniper and basil, a scent that had tantalised her since she had begun arguing with him, and tasted very faintly of the distinctive mint of a breath-freshening charm. His kiss sent heat curling through her belly to her chest, suffusing her with warmth enough to combat the bitter winter cold.
Gradually, Hermione became aware that they were both gasping for air and that their hands had turned to clutching and that the roaring in their ears was actually the cheering of the whole of Hogwarts. Her cheeks flushed in pleasure at the unsure man who looked as if he may be rather ill in a moment.
Deciding that was Snape's—Severus, she now supposed—expression for some form of discomforted happiness, Hermione kissed him again to another cheer, and another rush of warmth that killed the last vestiges of ice in her veins.
In the air, Ronald Weasley grinned and congratulated himself on making his new gig a great deal more bearable now that those two were happily distracted.