They met outside the study door at 10.58am promptly. Word seemed to have
spread, as a crowd had gathered. Severus reflected that it was clearly
unnecessary to take out the full page advert in the Daily Prophet as
breaking the news to Ron and Harry seemed to have had a similar effect.
Each member of the crowd was studiously ignoring each other, and finding
matters of great interest in their books, their newspapers, or, where
inspiration failed, their shoes. Fred and George were trying to run a book
on the outcome, but they couldn't find anyone who was prepared to bet
Molly was the only one who could claim to have a legitimate reason to be
there, and even she was cleaning the breakfast table to within an inch of
its life. He was surprised to see Molly wink at him. Rather than the
lynching mob he had expected, there appeared to be, if not support, at
least acceptance that Hermione was a grown woman who knew her own mind.
Severus suddenly felt a lot more cheerful about the forthcoming interview.
Albus was not impressed with the congregation cluttering the drawing room,
but even the most pointed stares from him failed to have any effect. He
ushered Hermione and Severus into the room, and closed the door behind him.
Albus settled himself behind an imposing desk and gestured at them to be
seated. The chairs were very carefully placed at opposite ends of the desk,
with about three feet of clear space between them. Exchanging amused
glances, Severus and Hermione deliberately moved the chairs closer together
before sitting down. Albus's lips tightened.
"Well?" he said.
Severus desperately wanted to say that he was very well thank you but
decided not to add fuel to the fire.
Hermione had no such reservations. "Well, what?" she said crisply.
Albus was non-plussed for a moment, but battled back gamely. "You know very
well what. I want an explanation of what you were doing in Professor
Snape's room this morning."
"I fail to see why that is any of your business," she said. Severus had
decided that the prudent course of action was to allow Hermione to handle
things, after all she didn't have to work with Dumbledore next term, and
she seemed to be doing a sterling job so far.
"Whilst you are a student at Hogwarts it is very much my business what you
were doing in a teacher's rooms, having presumably spent the night."
"Indeed, WHILST I was a student at Hogwarts that would be true. However, I
would remind you that I ceased being in statu pupillari at midnight last
night. Therefore you have no right to know what went on between Professor
Snape and I." Hermione was playing with a straight bat.
Severus thought he would treasure for the rest of his life expression that
crossed Albus's face. One part indigation to two parts fury and three parts
bewilderment. The most powerful wizard in England (now that Voldemort was
dead) was being very politely told to bugger off, and he wasn't accustomed
to such offhand treatment. Particularly from a recently graduated student.
Dumbledore decided to try another tack. "Nonetheless your actions last
night will have a bearing on the scholastic reputation of the school, as
well as yourself and Professor Snape. I really must insist that you tell me
what transpired last night?"
"I fail to see how this affects Hogwarts scholastic reputation." Hermione
tone was becoming a little more clipped.
Albus didn't take the hint. "It might be suggested that your recent
academic success was due to an exchange of favours."
Severus winced. That was going to hit Hermione where it hurt, she was very
proud of her academic success. He was surprised when she merely laughed.
"I am prepared to take veritaserum to confirm that nothing between Severus
and I before I graduated. My name isn't Pansy Parkinson."
Albus shot a quick glance at Severus, who quickly denied any involvement in
Miss Parkinson's grades. "Defence against the dark arts?" she continued.
"Oh for heaven's sake, you mean that none of you noticed the queue forming
up for Professor Quertic's ahem tutoring classes?"
Severus smirked. It looked like yet another DADA teacher wasn't going to
last longer than a year.
Hermione moved onto the offensive with barely a breath to spare. After five
minutes Severus was convinced he was the best candidate for the newly
vacated DADA job, but he had always suspected that to be true. Albus was a
harder nut to crack. It took Hermione fifteen minutes of intensive arguing
before he broke down and offered Severus the job. With a payrise. A very
big payrise. And new quarters away from the cold and draughty dungeons.
With a fire place connected to the floo network. And permission for guests
to stay overnight in his new and improved quarters. And an Order of Merlin
Dumbledore's face was ashen when she finished. He waved his hand limply at
them to leave. "Take my advice, Severus. If you don't want to end up
married to her, start running now."
Hermione blushed. It was the first time he had ever seen her look
unconvinced that the world was going to rearrange itself to suit her
He looked into her eyes and saw the future set out before him. She would
bully him into eating properly and taking care of himself. She would make
him wear his scarf in winter, and wrap up warm. She would force him into
being sociable, dragging him along to all sorts of events with her annoying
Gryffindor friends. She probably had the number and names of their children
He would be annoyed, exasperated and enchanted all at once, but it would
never be dull.
Acting on impulse, he kissed her hand, and watched her eyes soften. "Why on
earth would I want to run, Albus?"
She blushed an even deeper shade of red. Underneath that painfully
practical exterior beat the heart of a romantic, and no one else had had
the wit to realise it. Harry was right in a way; she needed to be looked
after, and for the first time he could understand what he could offer her.
He was aware that he wasn't good looking, and he couldn't even run the
'it's the personality that counts' line, because truthfully he was
arrogant, irritable and impatient.
But he had seen what the boys surrounding her hadn't. She may dismiss
flowers and chocolates and moonlit walks as silly and a waste of time, but
that was because she had taken a long hard look at the world and decided no
one was ever going to offer that to her. Hadn't he done the same? He could
sweep her off her feet, and shower her with affection, and she would
blossom. That and the constant, wild shagging. The list of her fantasies
had been quite impressive.
Hermione taming looked to be a lifetime's occupation, but he rather thought
that he would be able to get the upper hand from time to time.
A/N I have been asked about the chip butty. (Some earlier reviewers of this
desciption seem to be having cross-cultural difficulties. This is UK chips
we are talking about, which is the same as US Fries; and not US chips which
are UK crisps. Dear God can you imagine eating a crisp sarnie for
It is true that there are regional and even national variations in their
construction. For instance, the Belgians eat their chips with mayonnaise.
People in the north of England may put gravy or curry sauce on their chips,
and therefore may do the same when making a butty.
It isn't possible to make a butty with thin fries like those found in
MacDonalds. What you need is a big fat chip, preferably one that has been
fried twice. You fry them, let them rest, and then pop them back in for a
few minutes to warm them up. Alternatively you nip down to your local
chippy and procure a large portion of chips.
There is a great deal of debate as to the bread content of the chip butty.
In some areas in the north of England a butty is constructed using a roll,
a bit like a hot dog, and with ketchup or brown sauce but NOT mustard.
My own personal preference is to use supermarket bread with the texture of
cotton wool. This means that it wraps round the chips more easily, and
seems to me to have a more pleasing chip to bread ratio than say a bun. The
chips are then carefully arranged on one half one slice of the buttered
bread, until the whole surface area is covered. It is permissible and
indeed desirable to have excess chip trailing over the side. Condiments
such as salt and vinegar are added. There is a new fashion for adding black
pepper also, but I think that is just a modern fad.
The bread is then folded in half, and clutched in both hands to be eaten.
If the number of chips is found to be inadequate, it is permissible to
insert further chips. This typically occurs on inadequate chip severing on
taking a bite, such that a whole chip is removed rather than the part
strictly related to the consumed portion of butty, so that the remainder of
the butty is empty. Care must also be taken to prevent the butter dripping
out of the bottom of the butty and impacting on any clothes. It may be
thought prudent to wear a bib or tea towel to prevent accidents.
I am a purist and won't add ketchup or brown sauce to a butty, although I
do think it is acceptable to use one to mop up either the runny yolk of a
fried egg or the sauce of your baked beans.
This is probably very close to the lecture Hermione gave Severus!