A/N: Forever ago someone sent me a prompt on Tumblr for a fic inlcuding the words that match the title of this tale. It was supposed to be a drabble, but 5k words later, here we are. I hope you like it.
*Is the worst*
*what even is self-control*
*I WILL NOT BE CONTAINED!*
*blows you kisses and scampers away to write more*
*loves you all*
That Damn Purple Vial
"This all started because of that damn purple vial that you handed me, Miss Granger!" Severus Snape snarled sinisterly over the small space separating the two of them, but for their thoroughly conjoined hands. Their irreparably joined hands, it seemed. Hermione sighed, dropping into the seat at his desk; forced to sit kitty-corner because he was already seated in his usual chair behind the foreboding desk inside his teaching office.
"I've told you several times now, sir, I don't know where the vial came from or what was in it," Hermione reminded him tiredly, laying her forehead on her folded arm while the other stretched across the desk in his direction, her palm magically grafted to his.
"And yet it was in your possession and you happened to be attempting to hand it to me when it broke," Professor Snape hissed, his dark eyes narrowed to slits and fixed upon her hatefully though she had grown tired of looking at him.
"To ask you what it was when I discovered it in my bag," Hermione said. "Do you really imagine I would seek to land myself in this kind of situation with you, Professor?"
"How else did it happen, then?" he spat. "You had the vial. You attempted to hand me the vial; and you broke the vial."
"You broke it," Hermione argued without lifting her head. He'd been in foul temper for what felt like hours now, though in reality she couldn't have been in his office for more than fifteen minutes at the most.
She'd found a vial of purple liquid in the bottom of her school bag, and not having put it there herself, and not having figured out on her own what that liquid might be, she'd sought out the resident Potions Master. Only when she'd been in the process of handing it to him, they each almost dropped it in an attempt not to touch the other's skin, and somehow the fragile vial had shattered in their grip, coating their skin in bright purple potion, and evidently gluing their hands together.
"I beg your pardon?" Snape demanded, stopping short in his tirade at her less than polite and respectful tone.
"If you hadn't been so determined not to touch my skin - as though you imagine me to be some kind of leper or something equally ridiculous - neither of us would've squeezed the vial to keep from dropping it, and everything would be fine," Hermione seethed, lifting her head to glare at him in annoyance. "I came here hoping for your help to identify a potion I didn't recognize that mysteriously came to be in my possession, and we now have an intimate understanding of what it does. Perhaps, Professor, rather than continuing to bitch about it like a petulant child, we could move past your anger over being magically grafted to me and figure out how to separate?!"
"Miss Granger, you are out of line," he warned.
"Yes, well, you're not the only one annoyed about this!" Hermione retorted crossly, stamping her foot under the desk. He raised one sardonic eyebrow and Hermione scowled, looking away as her cheeks warmed over her own act of petulance.
Snape was silent for long enough that her face grew hot with embarrassment, but Hermione refused to look at him again, waiting for him to get on with figuring out how they could get free of one another. It was bad enough that she'd had to seek him out to assist her in the first place, and to be stuck holding his hand was rather unbearable, thank you very much.
"You claim you did not purchase this yourself?" he asked, his tone mellowing only slightly, from bitter rage to seething iciness.
"No, I didn't," Hermione sighed. "And I don't know what it is."
"You found it in the bottom of your school bag?" he confirmed.
"Yes," Hermione said.
"Which you clean out how often?" he wanted to know.
"Every day," Hermione admitted. "I have a slight OCD problem about cleanliness and order."
"Indeed," he said. "We can deduce, then, that it was dropped into you bag today?"
"Or sometime over the weekend," Hermione admitted. "I cleaned it out on Friday and didn't need to do so again over the weekend."
"There was a Hogsmeade trip this weekend," Snape pointed out.
"I didn't take my school bag to Hogsmeade," she offered.
"No, but undoubtedly whomever gave you the potion visited either the apothecary or the joke shop over the weekend and sought to supply it to you sometime throughout the day. You recall no one accessing your bag?"
Hermione shook her head. "I left it unattended in Potions, and in Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Herbology. Anyone could've slipped anything in there. It's one of the reasons I clean it out every night. Some of my classmates think it's funny to slip dungbombs, and other less than savoury items into their fellows' bags."
"Children are disgusting," Snape muttered, curling his lip.
"Agreed," Hermione sighed.
"Well, we can deduce that whoever gave it to you either sought to embarrass you, or fancies you," Snape said.
"Based on what, exactly?" Hermione asked, aware that she wasn't being as duly respectful as she probably should be, but too annoyed to care.
"It's a potion that sticks you to someone else," he pointed out, holding up the joined palms indicatively. "Someone either wanted you stuck to someone you would be embarrassed to be caught holding hands with. Or someone hoped to be caught dropping it in your bag, and to end up stuck to you when you handed it back."
"Why would anyone who fancied me enough to want to hold my hand need a potion to force me into being stuck doing so for Merlin knows how long?" Hermione frowned at him, convinced it was the first option, for sure.
"As you may have noticed, you'd have been forced into close quarters with whomever gave it to you - foreseeably until a remedy can be found. You do realise you are quite literally stuck to me, don't you, Miss Granger?"
"I had noticed, sir, yes," Hermione replied drolly.
"You can imagine no-one among your peers who might feel the need to force you into their company so that you might get to know them better as a result?" he asked.
"Is there anyone who fancies me that I won't give the time of day?" she clarified.
Snape simply raised one eyebrow.
"Um... McLaggen's been hounding me for a 'proper' date since I asked him to accompany me to Professor Slughorn's Christmas do," Hermione admitted. "But he's vile and I only asked him because I thought he would annoy Ron the most."
Snape made a noise of disgust and Hermione blushed all over again.
She dared a look at him when he remained silent for several long and tense minutes and Hermione raised her eyebrows in surprise when she saw that he had looked away, and that he had begun tapping the index finger of his free hand against the desk with agitation, his cheeks cut a light shade of pink she'd never seen on him before.
"Sir?" she asked, frowning.
"McLaggen is the only one you can think of who would seek to garner your affections by forced interaction?" he asked without looking at her.
"Well, someone like Ron might give it a go, but he's dating Lavender, and he's not currently talking to me and taking a good deal of pride in that fact..."
"It wasn't Weasley," Snape said.
"Oh?" Hermione asked, frowning at him.
"Why did you ask McLaggen to be your date for a dance if you dislike him?" Snape asked, rather than elaborating.
"Well, originally I asked Ron, and I thought we were going together, but then he started snogging Lavender. And I know he wants to go to Professor Slughorn's party but he's not famous like Harry and hasn't done anything to distinguish himself from his peers that would gain Professor Slughorn's attention, and so he wasn't invited on his own merit. And I'm not taking him with me if he's dating that slag, so... I picked someone he would hate to see me taking in his place."
"You sought to make him jealous," Snape surmised.
Hermione sighed, her cheeks glowing to admit so much to him. "Yes, sir."
"Were you aware that Cormac McLaggen happens to take after his uncle, the man who invented the Wolfsbane potion?" Professor Snape asked mildly.
"I think he mentioned that fact about his uncle at the last dinner party Professor Slughorn had, but I confess I wasn't really listening while he was talking because I was busy trying to get Harry to switch seats with me so that I wouldn't be directly opposite McLaggen because when he wasn't speaking, he kept making lewd gestures with his food while making uncomfortable eye contact."
"He has previously attempted to lure you into something of a sexual manner with him?" Professor Snape asked.
"I'm not sure I like classifying hand-holding as a sexual act when you and I are currently holding hands, Professor," Hermione admitted, her cheeks scarlet.
"Answer the question, Miss Granger," Professor Snape said tightly.
"Yes," Hermione admitted. "He frequently asks me on dates ranging from accompanying him to Hogsmeade to simply attending Quidditch training sessions to watch from the stands like some ridiculous groupie. He tried to lure me into a broom cupboard on Friday afternoon, but fortunately Harry saved me by claiming he needed help with some homework. Cormac frequently attempts to steal my bag for the sake of carrying my books and walking me to class, and he makes uncomfortable comments and gestures that suggest he'd like to do incredibly lewd things with me at any given moment, regardless of privacy."
"He is harassing you, then," Snape surmised.
"I suppose," Hermione said. "And ordinarily I'd hex him in the bollocks and move on with life, but I did ask him to the Christmas do, and I do still want to annoy Ron, so..."
"So, he believes you're stringing him along or playing hard-to-get," Professor Snape sighed. "And he unfortunately possesses the potion-making skill to have concocted just such a potion as this one, designed to force you to hold hands with him indefinitely and so, cease your games and give him what he wants from you."
"You make it sound all rather predatory when you put it so sinisterly, sir," Hermione frowned.
"I'd go so far as to call it rapey, Miss Granger, and regardless of your plans to irritate Mr Weasley, you would do well to put an immediate stop to all associations with Cormac McLaggen as I expect this failed attempt to get your attention won't be his last," Snape informed her, eyeing her seriously and making Hermione's stomach flip with the dark knowledge glittering in his obsidian eyes.
"So you think he did this?" she asked, nodding toward their joined hands.
"Yes," Professor Snape said. "And I expect I can imagine his immature and predatory 'remedy' to his ridiculous potion."
"You know how to undo it?" Hermione asked hopefully.
"I expect so," Professor Snape answered, and his lip was curled back distastefully. "I wouldn't look so excited, Miss Granger. You're not going to like the cure."
Hermione's stomach sank.
"Oh, no," she murmured, her eyes tracing over his face and reading from his expression that it was going to be something distasteful or downright gross. If it was of Cormac's making, then it would undoubtedly be something sexual in nature.
"Oh no, indeed," Snape murmured in return, his expression icy and his eyes blazing with fury.
"Oh god, we're not going to have to have sex, are we Professor?" Hermione asked, her mortification insurmountable.
"While I expect Mr McLaggen would very much like that to be the result of his attempts to seduce you, Miss Granger, I expect it won't be something quite so extreme this early in the game, as it were," Snape replied.
"The game?" Hermione frowned.
"He is a teenage boy, Miss Granger," Snape said as though that fact explained everything.
"And?" Hermione asked, because though she happened to be best friends with Harry and Ron, they weren't of a rapey disposition and she would never expect either of them to do something as heinous as this.
"You asked the lout to accompany you as a paramour and have since resisted all attempts at seduction, no?" Snape confirmed.
"I suppose," Hermione frowned.
"Then it stands to reason, Miss Granger, that Mr McLaggen assumes that this is all a game. A game for which the grand prize for winning will likely be to deflower you. If he's made attempts to do the gentlemanly thing and carry your books and escort you to classes and go on dates and you've refused, in his mind that means he needs to switch tactics and attempt a new strategy of attack. I would expect that this… play…" he indicated to their joined hands once again. "Was thought up as a means of claiming you can't be separated, potentially to point of either of you needing to use the bathroom, or requiring a shower while conjoined. Thus, getting you naked. However, it wouldn't be sporting and he wouldn't see it as winning to so easily get you out of your knickers in his company, so I expect he might've magically suggested you snog to see if it will undo the effects of the potion."
"Like mistletoe?" Hermione guessed.
"I believe it will have been a key ingredient in this concoction, yes," Snape nodded.
"And you think he'd suggest kissing me when he could potentially have been stuck to me long enough to get me naked?" Hermione confirmed.
"That would be the sporting thing to do," Snape said.
"Cormac McLaggen isn't what I'd call a sporting sort of boy, Professor," Hermione pointed out. "He picked me up and carried me into a broom cupboard on Friday and only Harry following us and leading me away saved me."
"He assaulted you?" Snape confirmed, frowning at her.
"Well… I mean… he didn't hurt me…" Hermione frowned in return.
"But he acted against your will to put you in a position where he might force himself upon you, even knowing it wasn't something you wanted?" he pushed.
"When you say it like that…" Hermione frowned.
"Miss Granger, have you reported him before this moment?" Snape asked.
"No," Hermione said. "Harry knows, obviously, and other people have seen his attempts to hold my hand and put his arm around me and go on dates with him, but he hasn't done anything to harm me, so I didn't really see the point, and I haven't told him to get lost and that I no longer want him to accompany me to Professor Slughorn's party, so I thought…"
"You thought it was fine and harmless and that you could handle it by yourself," he finished for her. "Miss Granger, while I am horrified to be the one saying this to you – and believe me, I intend to have words with Minerva when this is over about ensuring the safety of the teenage witches in her care – you are not a child anymore. You are a young woman, and while I'm sure it sounds ludicrous coming out of my mouth, there are undoubtedly young men – and older men as well – who will find you attractive and who will make every attempt to indulge in the delights of your body. Unfortunately, not all men are perfect gentlemen and there are those even within wizarding society who believe a woman's purpose is to look pretty, be silent, and to submit to their every whim. There are those who will take your gentle rebuffs not as a dismissal, but as a challenge and those who will escalate their attempts to cajole you to their way of thinking until you agree just to make them go away, or who will outright ignore your autonomy and take what they want from you without permission."
"You're suggesting McLaggen would rape me?" Hermione asked. "He's not a beast, Professor."
"Isn't he?" Snape asked, raising one eyebrow at her. "He ignored your autonomy and carried you into a broom cupboard, Miss Granger. And I can only assume you were arguing to be released if someone as dense as Potter made the effort to rescue you, rather than leaving you to your fate. What's more, he spent countless hours cooking up the very potion currently sticking you to me, likely in an attempt to get you alone so that he might have his way with you."
"You said you think the way to be free of the spell would be snogging," Hermione argued. "That's a far cry from rape, Professor."
"Indeed, but the snog would take place as a matter of external circumstance forcing your agreement, and not as an act of your own free will. What's more, you have no guarantee that someone as arrogant as Cormac McLaggen wouldn't assume that his snogging abilities are liable to knock your socks off, literally. How do you know he wouldn't have lured you to some secondary location before suggesting a kiss might undo it, intending to force you up against the nearest flat surface once your hands were free?"
"I'm far better with a wand than him, Professor," Hermione frowned. "I could hex him if it comes to that."
"And if he takes your wand? By then he might've been in your company for hours and might've robbed you of it at any opportunity, were you not paying attention. For example," he paused, and suddenly held up the wand from the pocket of her robes, evidently having done just that and pinched it from her while she was distracted.
"I didn't even feel you take it," Hermione frowned at him, reaching for it when he handed it over.
"Exactly," Snape said. "It would behove you to cease all contact with Mr McLaggen, Miss Granger, and to ensure you are never in a position where you end up alone with him for a good long while after this, as I expect even hexing him might be taken as another, more escalated attempt to continue playing hard-to-get."
"You really think he'd do that?" Hermione asked.
"He cooked a potion to stick you to him against your will, Miss Granger," he reminded her. "At this point, there isn't anything I think someone like him wouldn't do. You've wounded his ego with your rebuffs, I expect. I've seen if before from boisterous and arrogant young men who imagine clever witches ought to fall at their feet based on their merit as Quidditch players. Unless you are publicly firm with him about it and exceedingly cautious hereafter, he will try again, and he will escalate his attempts."
Hermione's stomach churned uncomfortably at the thought and she frowned, peering at the Potions Master in confusion and trying to understand how a harmless-seeming act on her part to make Ron jealous had exploded into another boy's potential to become a rapist.
Snape let her stew in her thoughts on the matter while he returned to examining their joined hands and Hermione watched him cast countless spells and charms that might disable the sticking mechanism.
"It's no use," Hermione sighed fifteen minutes later when he was growing exceedingly frustrated and using less than friendly spells to attempt to sever their connection. "Mistletoe is one of those wretched magical plants that has only one means of undoing it's effects. Just like Devil's Snare fears sunlight, mistletoe will not release those bound beneath it without paying the required toll, as it were."
"You don't know what you're saying," Snape pointed out without looking at her.
"I'm saying that unless you want to hold my hand for the rest of eternity, you're going to have to kiss me, Professor," Hermione sighed. "Unless you know some other way to be free of mistletoe? In which case, do share it."
"If I knew another way to be free of mistletoe, I wouldn't have had the misfortune of having to snog Black last Christmas thanks to those meddlesome Weasley twins," he muttered darkly, looking away and laying his wand down on the desk in frustration.
It took everything in her not to laugh at the thought, and Hermione pressed her lips together, sensing that even a smile on the matter would cause him to explode into one of his famous tempers. They sat in silence for several long minutes before finally, Hermione cleared her throat.
"Should we just get on with it, then, sir?" Hermione asked tentatively, though her stomach was rioting with butterflies.
"You are a student, Miss Granger," he reminded her, looking at her in horror.
"A sixth-year student," Hermione confirmed, nodding. "And I'm already seventeen, so legally you wouldn't be… um… in breach of any statutory laws."
"No, it would only be morally bankrupt," he sneered. "I swore an oath as an educator never to abuse my position of power over any of my students, Miss Granger."
"Is it an abuse of power to perform the only act possible to be free of one another?" Hermione asked, tipping her head to one side and regarding him steadily though she wasn't entirely thrilled about having to kiss him, either. "You said yourself that there is no other remedy. What's more, if we remain this way, we will be in larger breach of that very oath should one of us eventually need the loo, Professor. And I've yet to shower today, so I'd need to do that, too. You wouldn't want to be stuck to me while I do it, would you? I think kissing would be preferable to full frontal nudity, don't you?"
"You need not paint so vivid a picture, Miss Granger," he grumbled, deflating a little in his seat at her reasonable tone and rational points though his reluctance was no less poignant.
"I'm no l more comfortable with this than you, sir," Hermione reminded him. "I've received more than enough teasing throughout the course of my life about the acts I must surely perform upon my teachers to earn my high grades that I'm morally outraged by this entire mess, you know?"
"That was a mental image I didn't need," Snape complained, grimacing at her.
"Sorry, sir," Hermione apologized, sighing heavily. "I only meant that there is nothing else for it and that no matter both our moral outrages on the matter, if we wish to separate, we must kiss. We can complain about it all evening, or we can get on with it before parting ways and never speaking of it again."
"If it works," he pointed out. "It is only a theory, Miss Granger, not a fact."
"Well, as two of the most scientifically minded people I've ever encountered it stands to reason that we test the hypothesis, does it not?" Hermione appealed quietly.
Professor Snape's sigh was long-suffering and he closed his eyes before pinching the bridge of his nose with his free hand as though he were developing a headache. Hermione didn't blame him.
"I'm going to hex McLaggen into next week for this," she informed him quietly.
"Be sure to do it before I get ahold of him, Miss Granger," he replied. "I plan to ruin the remainder of his career here at Hogwarts with nightly detentions of the most gruesome nature I can concoct. I cannot harm a student under my care as a professor any more than I should be abusing my position of power to commit acts of depravity with a student, but I can force the idiot boy to extract beetle eyes, and gut flobberworms, and squeeze bubotuber pus for the remainder of his tenure at this school."
"Don't you technically need a legitimate reason to give him detention in that manner?" Hermione asked. "While this is undoubtedly reason enough, I expect recording it would be more damaging to your career than his."
"The most minor of infractions can legitimately be punished, Miss Granger," he promised sinisterly, opening his eyes to smirk cruelly in her direction.
"Yes, sir," Hermione smiled meanly in reply.
"Right," he said, rising to his feet. "Might as well get it over with."
"And they say romance is dead," Hermione mocked without thinking, rising as well and stepping around his desk in his direction.
"I shudder at the thought of you and romance in the same sentence, Miss Granger," he informed her, and though his words were unkind, his eyes sparkled with dark humour.
"As you should, given your position," Hermione replied primly. "Do you suppose a chaste kiss will do?"
"I doubt it," he said, frowning at their conjoined hands when he lifted them to examine them one more time. "But it wouldn't hurt to try that first."
"It wouldn't," Hermione agreed.
He took his eyes from their grafted limbs to instead rest his eyes on her face and from up close he was even more imposing than he was from a distance, Hermione thought with a slight tremor of trepidation.
"Need I point out that if you ever breathe a word of this to anyone, I'll punish you as severely as I plan to punish McLaggen?" he asked stiffly.
"Technically we don't even know it was him," Hermione reminded him. "But fear not, Professor. I'll take the secret of snogging you to my grave."
"Good. I suppose this won't be your first kiss?" he retorted.
Hermione opened her mouth to answer him that, actually, it would be but before she could, he spoke again.
"No, don't answer that. I don't need any additional nightmares," he said quickly before leaning down without further ado and pressing his lips carefully to hers.
Hermione kissed him back chastely, her mouth closed, her lips soft, and her heart pounding. His lips were chapped, and his posture was stiff with discomfort. After a moment, he pulled back and examined their hands once more, frowning in annoyance.
"That's a no on chasteness undoing the magic," Hermione stated the obvious.
"Well spotted," he sneered in reply. "Very well. Let the nightmares ensue."
He leaned in again, and once more his chapped lips moved over hers carefully, almost delicately. For a moment Hermione wondered if he was testing the chaste theory again before she felt the faintest flicker of his tongue against the seam of her lips. Parting them carefully, a zing of terror and delight and pleasure and shock rocketed through her as she met his tongue with her own, oh so hesitantly. His breath was minty, Hermione noted idly, and he was exceedingly careful as he kissed her, his tongue touching hers for the briefest moment and pulling back and letting his lips move with hers before doing it again.
Her stomach writhed with the butterflies set a-flight at their actions and Hermione wondered if she had ever felt this way before this moment. She'd never kissed anyone else, though she'd read plenty on the subject and she wondered as his tongue brushed hers once more if he'd kissed many people, either. Her hand began to tingle the longer they kissed and unbidden, Hermione found herself leaning into the soft sensation, craving more of it, curious and enraptured. Her unbound hand found it's way to his chest, resting lightly above his heart and she could feel his heart hammering within the cage of his ribs.
She wondered if he was as nervous as her.
His tongue brushed hers a little more insistently on the next swipe, and he leaned closer, his large nose pressing into her cheek even as his hand lifted to cup her neck, tilting her head ever so slightly. Hermione found herself rising to her tiptoes, moving closer, unable to resist. Her hand tingled more insistently and unbidden a soft whimper left her to be swallowed up as he deepened the kiss even more until Hermione wondered if this was what it must be to be devoured and enraptured and entirely lost to a man's touch.
Gods, was this what they wrote of in epic tales of romance and tragedy? This sense of heart-pounding, bliss-inducing, blinding tingle of rightness and pleasure and zing that made her never want to pull away. Was this the thing people wrote great poems of love and loss about? Was this the sensation people threw their lives away over? Did what she felt in that moment define every instance of pleasure she would measure her experiences against forever more?
Before she could figure it out, the tingling in her hand grew almost painful until, suddenly, she was no longer grafted to the professor. For only a moment more, a single touch of tongues, one more mingled breath, he kissed her. And then he wrenched back as though burned; free of her and putting as much distance between them as he could as quickly as possible. He backed up several steps, his touch deserting her, and Hermione tottered on her tiptoes, her hands suspended in mid-air, no longer supported by his sinuous form.
She was breathing hard as she opened her eyes, and his expression was thunderous though he, too, panted as though he'd just run a marathon. For several tense seconds she met his unfathomably dark eyes and she was sure she felt eternity in that moment. But then that moment ended and he drew himself up to his full height, controlling his breathing and glaring down that hooked nose at her as though daring her to utter the myriad of romantic and ridiculous thoughts swirling through her chaotic mind. Hermione knew to speak would be to consign her heart and her good sense to death beneath his rapier tongue.
And so, she said nothing. Instead, she clasped her tingling hands together to scrub away the sensation of his touch and she bit her bottom lip until the sweet pulse through the soft skin ceased.
"Thank you for your assistance, Professor," Hermione uttered with as much politeness as she could muster, though her voice was at once husky and breathless with the intense desire she felt to snog him all over again.
She didn't wait for his reply, not trusting that he wouldn't explode and blame her for this entire situation all over again. Instead, Hermione turned on her heels and stalked to where she'd dropped her bag on the floor beside his desk. She collected it quickly, snatching it up and slinging the strap over her shoulder before hurrying from his office as quickly as she could without daring to run.
She never looked back, no matter how her heart screamed that she must.