Despite his initial tension, Severus relaxed, even returning her quiet, subtle flirtations with ease; taking them in stride dare she say it. She didn't miss the way he'd tensed up around the public, a tic in his jaw jumping out against the pale surface of his skin with every witch or wizard that tugged their children closer, whispered in their ears to stay away from the "big, mean, ugly Death Eater", which was disconcerting considering Harry had made it known to the Daily Prophet about Snape's loyalties and his undying love for Lily; hell, even going so far as to share such sensitive information with that bitch, Rita Skeeter.
The witches, bored with their lives as common housewives, all sighed over his love for Lily and wished for their own undying romance, unwavering. It made Hermione sick, knowing that millions all over London and wherever the hell they sold this shit were reading about Snape's very private, final thoughts before dying. Of course, Hermione had tried so hard to get the Ministry to take it down, but they'd balked at the idea like the lowly cowards they were, and buried their heads in the sands when she confronted Rita Skeeter point blank. Rita had eyeballed her, even made a sly comment about her hair and her teeth, and transfigured into her little beetle Animagus form right then and there, scuttling into the hurrying feet and disappearing from Hermione's sight.
"Something wrong?" mused the black-haired man beside her, and she shook her head.
"No," she replied, smiling up at him, but she could tell by the slightly distant expression on his face that he didn't quite believe her. "Just thinking," she relented slowly, catching a glimpse of their reflection in the window of a store. It was like seeing two strangers, completely and utterly incompatible; her hair was wild, pulled back into a low, bushy ponytail, and her clothes weren't exactly stylish; however, Severus was in tip-top shape, sleek in all black, his curtain of hair blending into the black fabric of his clothes.
"About what?" he asked.
They hopped down into the road of cobblestone that wound throughout Hogsmeade, branching off in various directions, until they reached a little French-looking cafe, with a lovely aroma of buttery bread and rich wine. "Things," Hermione murmured, pressing a hand against the pushing door and shoving slightly, watching it swing inward with ease, gliding really.
"Like what?" He was right behind her, his heat wrapping around her as his hands brushed her hips, soft as silk, tentatively as though he were afraid to scare her off. She paused, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye, and bumped him with her ass.
He sucked in a short breath, more of a gasp than anything.
"Rita Skeeter," she answered honestly. A low growl slid out of his mouth.
"What a mood killer," he said. A laugh bubbled out of her, right from the pit of her stomach, and he looked startled, his eyes widening for a split second, and then his white face smoothed out, marble once again. It occurred to her that maybe he was flirting with her, and the thought made her skin prickle, her cheeks burning red. Was this a date? Feeling more than a little bit self-conscious of her wild hair, she patted it down, hoping he wouldn't notice her attempt to keep her appearance nice just in case this was a date.
"Your hair looks fine," he told her abruptly and she stumbled, his hand tightening around her bicep to keep her upright.
A low murmuring sound that sounded suspiciously like a chuckle slid out of his throat as he steadied her—Merlin, his hands were like fire against her skin, seeping through the fabric of her sweater—and gripped her hand as he helped her over the little steps leading to the dining area. He squeezed her fingers briefly, and it sent her a heady rush, and then his hand was gone.
"Do you come here often?" she asked anxiously, and her voice pitched shrilly, belying her hopefully calm expression. He chuckled, yes; this time she could tell it was a chuckle, and his hand was on her hip, burning through the fabric of her jeans. She nearly fainted right then and there.
"A bit," he replied smoothly against her ear, and a shiver rolled down her spine.
"Do they have flatbread? I love flatbread," she said absently.
"Indeed. They make wonderful flatbreads," he admitted, bumping against her ever so slightly, his hip against hers. Even after he'd moved away, her heart was still thumping vehemently. A waitress with long legs bounced up, hair swinging in the uniform ponytail of all long-haired employees (even males).
"Welcome to Greengrass's Graces. Table for two?" she asked in a welcoming voice, smiling wide. Hermione glanced at Severus, who nodded, and slipped between a row of booths and the little podium where the hostess would greet guests. The bistro itself was very nice, with warm tones to the decor, and a handful of quiet, happy customers; it was very different than the Burrow. Just the thought of being stuck at the Burrow, Molly quietly pinning Hermione to her seat with the heat of her glare, the boys running around, Fred and George setting off their latest line of firecrackers, Ron yelling in her ear to be heard over the children screaming and laughing and Hermione struggling to keep her food off the ground and not trip over a little one, made Hermione shudder.
"Very quaint," she muttered softly, looking around as Severus pulled out her chair for her. Her cheeks spotty, she thanked him and sank into her seat. Severus said something to the server, an elderly man with an eye patch who reminded her of Madeye Moody, and he nodded.
"I just ordered some wine, if that's alright?" At the raised brow, Hermione flushed a bit and nodded. "If I think back, we've never sat down and spoken of things we've been doing since the end of the War. So, pray tell, what has been happening?"
She relaxed, leaning against the table, and took a sip of her drink.