Author's Notes: Beta-ed by the usual all-knowing triumvirate of geyer, bambu345 and alwaysjbj, with madeleone and arynwy cheerleading and alpha-reading.
"Mister Krum! Return Ms Granger to solid ground immediately if you wish to continue to be employed by this school!" the headmaster called from the edge of the Quidditch pitch.
"Vot is wrong?"
"It may be the Christmas holidays, but there are still some pupils in the castle," sneered Professor Snape. "Decorum dictates that members of the faculty should not indulge in midair frottage, or even the appearance of such, especially with a female who is not their wife. As Ms Granger is not about to cease squirming around in your lap until her feet touch terra firma, I must insist you land immediately."
"Severus!" the aforementioned Ms Granger squealed as Viktor angled the broom downward.
"Thank you, and, Ms Granger, I would advise you against repeating this experiment elsewhere. Not only will it prove embarrassing to the school if word of your antics reach the press, but aversion therapy will not cure what is merely a symptom of a larger problem."
With these words, Snape turned on his heel and began walking back toward the castle.
It took Hermione a few minutes to convince her arms to relinquish their vice-like grip around the flying instructor and get her breath back after Viktor set down. As soon as she did, she began to pursue the headmaster's billowing form.
"Hermoninny!" the former Quidditch star called after her.
"Later, Viktor," she gasped, wishing she made more use of her gym membership.
"But, Hermoninny, vit iz zis frottage?"
"Ask Ginny. In private!" she added over one shoulder. As she rounded the corner she almost thought he must have slowed down so that she could catch him up. "Severus!"
He turned and lifted a single supercilious brow, crossing his arms as she closed the gap between them. "You bellowed?"
"Of course I bellowed. You knew perfectly well that I would need an explanation of that comment," Hermione proponed, her cheeks flushed and her hair swirling around her face.
"Actually, I would have expected the meaning of my comment to be self-evident, especially to the brightest witch of her age."
"I know that there is no book on the subject of your psychological hang-ups, but you do have sufficient personal experience of the subject to form a reasonable hypothesis."
"Severus, will you please stop being an arse and say what you mean? And lay off with the Ms Granger. You've been calling me Hermione for at least two years."
"Answer this. Have you ever been totally and completely drunk or taken any recreational drugs?" He stood with his head tilted back, his eyes slitted half-closed, providing her with a perfect view up his nose.
"No, you know I haven't."
"Have you ever had a serious relationship with anyone who had more spine than a jellyfish?" he asked in a smug tone.
"Yes!" Hermione closed her mouth, drawing it into a pinched line.
Severus smirked and muttered under his breath about self-deception being a powerful thing. "Did you or did you not leave a prestigious Ministry sinecure because you experienced a personality clash with your superior..."
"That woman was not my superior in any way. She was a short-sighted, incompetent, back-stabbing bitch," Hermione argued.
"To become your own boss?"
"I still don't see what this has to do with the fact I don't like flying!"
"It has to do with your fear of flying because, Ms Gran—"
"...Ger, you are, to put it in its simplest terms, a control freak. There are two types of wizard who could help you become a competent flyer. Mr Krum is neither."
"And you are?" Hermione replied sarcastically.
"In point of fact, yes. I happen to qualify on both counts. I have, in the past, constructed my own broom. I could teach you how it's done. I could also teach you how to fly without such accoutrements." He pronounced the final word with a perfect French inflection that brought out the velvet in his voice. "But what would be in it for me?"
"Pardon?" Hermione's mouth dropped open.
The headmaster uncrossed his arms and began to mount the steps leading to the main doors. "You heard me. I am a very busy man. If and when you are willing to address certain other aspects of your need for control, then I might reconsider. Otherwise, I suggest you begin looking for a broom designer with the backbone of a Flobberworm." He pushed the doors open. "Good day, Ms Granger."
Hermione rushed after him, darting through the doors as they began to close, and grasped the sleeve of his robe, feeling the softness of the finely-woven wool, and the steel of the sinew beneath, as she placed herself in his path.
"Severus?" she asked in a voice softened by amazement. "Are you asking me out?"
"No, Hermione, I am not. I am not some simpering schoolboy who might invite you to go to Madam Puddifoot's with him. Such flirtations are beneath the dignity of my position here. I said I might reconsider if you were prepared to embark upon a serious relationship with a man who will challenge you, a man who is your intellectual match, a man who is just as stubborn about getting his own way as you are. After all, a man might be prepared to go to some inconvenience for his... significant other. On the other hand, dinner for two in my quarters this evening might be an acceptable first step in building that relationship." There was warmth, but also a warning in his gaze. "Think carefully before you answer."
"Yes!" She reached up with her free hand, sliding it behind his neck to force that proud head with its beaky nose down towards her own as she stretched on tip-toe. "Yes, Severus. Yes," she whispered as she lifted her mouth to his, sealing their bargain with a kiss.