Disclaimer: Harry Potter is owned by JK Rowling et al. Any characters or locations you recognise are the intellectual property of these individuals and corporations. I make no money from the writing of this story.
This story is written from a prompt that was given out several years ago by TycheSong. It has been languishing on my computer for nearly two years with me writing bits and pieces at a time. It is finally in a state that I can begin to post it.
NB Severus may appear to be out of character in this story. I put it down to the fact he is finally able to be the man he always wished to be. Do not despair, our favourite, snarky professor will still come out to play on occasion but he will not be there all the time. This story also contains some Ron bashing. It is not gratuitous but someone has to be the bad guy. He drew the short straw this time.
This story is un-beta'd, any errors are my own.
"Hermione... love, maybe you should go out this evening," Alana Granger tried to persuade her daughter.
Hermione turned her blank eyes toward her mother. "Where?" she asked, gesturing out the window to the rooftops of the small village her parents lived and worked in. They had settled here once they returned from Australia after the war in the Wizarding world.
Alana joined her daughter on the large window seat overlooking the garden and the village of White Swan in the valley beyond. "There is a lovely pub down there. We usually go on Friday nights. It's nowhere near as busy on a Wednesday. The couple that own it are lovely; I was thinking today that if you're going to stay here then you should get out and meet some of the locals. Wendy and Peter are a lovely couple, and they're only a few years older than you."
"Wendy and Peter?" Hermione asked with a look of skepticism.
Alana gave a tinkling laugh. "They have a large picture of Wendy Darling and Peter Pan flying over the bar. There are little Tinkerbells hidden all over the place too, on the back of a chair, or stuck to a post; I even saw one on the fire poker one night, it's a real theme." Hermione chuckled slightly. It heartened Alana to see. Her daughter had been much too depressed lately, granted it was an expected emotion given what she had been through, but she would never recover from the betrayal she had suffered if she spent the rest of her life sitting on this window seat.
"Maybe I'll go with you on Friday night then," Hermione tentatively agreed. "I don't feel like going out on my own tonight."
Alana patted Hermione's foot as she stood. "Alright, but I'm going to hold you to that, love," she said firmly. Hermione nodded and turned on the reading lamp next to her seat before picking up her book again. Alana gave her a soft smile before leaving her alone.
Emmet Granger stood in the doorway to his sitting room, gazing at his daughter as she immersed herself in yet another book. Since arriving at their house three weeks ago she had only moved from that spot to attend meals, deal with her personal hygiene and go to bed. Apart from dinner the previous Friday evening; Alana had finally convinced her to join them on their weekly outing. She seemed to have regained some of her previous spark by the end of the night. She was starting to look morose again though.
He was so happy to have her living with them again, even though she was now twenty six years old. She had been wrenched from them it seemed when she was eleven, hardly seeing her again until she was nineteen. Even then that wretched Weasley did his utmost to keep their beloved daughter away from them as much as possible.
'They're Muggles, 'Mione I don't know what to talk to them about,' whined the voice of Ron Weasley as he sat in the dining room, waiting for Hermione's parents to bring dinner in from the kitchen. His voice carried easily to that room. Alana's face twisted into a scowl at the butchering of her daughter's beautiful name. Emmet's face turned to thunder at the implication that he, a well-educated, cultured man, would be unable to find a topic he could converse on with a nineteen year old boy.
'Talk to them about their garden, ask them about their work,' the voice of their daughter floated to them. It seemed she was trying to be patient. There was a deep mumbling before they heard, 'Oh for heaven's sake, Ronald, talk to them about the football game you went to with Dean last week! Otherwise sit and be silent while I talk to my parents!'
Weasley had not visited them much after that night. Emmet would always get a warm feeling of satisfaction when he thought of the in-depth discussion he had led that evening, first on the intricacies of the human jawbone, followed by a detailed analysis of the current political climate, and finishing with a rousing critique of the latest performance of The Royal Shakespeare Company at the Globe Theatre. His wife and daughter had participated in the conversation enthusiastically; Weasley's face had alternated between boredom, bewilderment and frustration.
Unfortunately Weasley staying away also meant Hermione did for the most part as well, only managing to visit them once or twice a month if they were lucky. All that had ended just a few weeks ago when, after a workday best forgotten, Hermione caught the rogue in bed with another man! The fiend then had the nerve to suggest that his daughter—his beautiful, intelligent, brilliant daughter—should be happy to live a life of duplicity in order for him to keep his secret! After ensuring the red-headed swine would be unable to—ahem, perform—for quite a while, she had thrown herself on the mercy of her parents, knowing what awaited her in the Wizarding world once news was spread that she had left the pure-blooded seeming paragon of virtue and heroism.
They had contacted her friend Harry Potter, who had rushed from his home in France with his gorgeous, little blonde wife. Emmet had been quite dazzled at first until a little whisper in her ear from her husband caused—something—to happen and Emmet found his head miraculously cleared, along with a profuse apology from the young, pregnant witch. 'I am so sorry, ze 'ormones—zey are a beetch.' Despite her obvious distress at the time, Gabrielle's explanation had drawn a hearty laugh from his daughter.
Between Harry's and her parents' counsel, Hermione had decided to withdraw from the Wizarding world in Britain indefinitely. The reason she had even caught Ron in flagrante delicto had been because she had left work early following a crushing disappointment at the hands of her supervisor. She knew she could not face the stares and taunts that would inevitably follow her every time she ventured out. A visit from Harry curtailed any plans Ron had for revenge on his former girlfriend and a visit to the Minister of Magic had her resignation letter accepted effective immediately. Hermione felt bad at having Harry use his good standing to make her life easier but, as she was curtly informed, she and Gabrielle were the only two witches ever to not use him for his status. If he chose to use it, that was another matter entirely. Emmet felt a brief moment of regret that this young man was already taken, but ultimately rejoiced that his daughter had such a good friend in him.
Gabrielle had assured her friend that any magical requirements she had could be ordered through them or Hermione could obtain them herself if she visited their home in France. Gabrielle acquired an owl for Hermione when the French witch visited her sister to assure her that Hermione was safe and under Harry's wing. She did not let on exactly where Hermione was staying, she knew the Weasleys would be very interested, but she also knew her sister would keep her confidence. If Fleur could reassure the Weasleys then no one else's opinion really mattered. Hermione was grateful for the small brown owl, naming him Delacour in honour of the giver.
Emmet was shaken out of his reverie by the movement of the owl flying past the window. It drew his gaze to the stunning view provided by the glass. "Look at that sunset, Princess. Have you ever seen such a beautiful one?" he asked as he sat down in the window seat with his daughter. Hermione turned her head to take in the view. Emmet was heartened to see the ghost of a smile come onto her face. "Why don't you go take a walk? The fresh air will do you good. You could stop in the pub for a pint, maybe a spot of dinner. You enjoyed it on Friday," he cajoled.
Hermione turned to him and smiled. "You and Mum are determined to get me out of this house, aren't you?" she asked. She sighed as she turned back to the view of the village, the sun setting in the distance, creating long and interesting shadows.
"I'll be a little bit blunt with you, Princess," Emmet said firmly. "We have not had a night to ourselves since you moved back in."
Hermione looked at him, horror dawning across her features. "Oh, Dad, I am so sorry," she cried, realisation of what her parents had given up to have her back in the house filling her. "I am such an ungrateful little..." she trailed off as she looked imploringly into her father's eyes. Emmet's heart went out to her and he put an arm around her shoulder.
"Now, Princess, hush," he instructed as he placed a soft kiss on her temple. "You know we love you and we are ecstatic to have you back here. You are welcome to stay for the rest of your life if need be. However, you are not going to sit here in this seat the entire time. I know you received a lot of reward money from that war; add in the bonus payment that Harry got for you and it's enough for you to live on modestly. But I also know you are not one to sit idle and that's what you've been doing for three weeks. Now, I realise you were distraught when you said it, but you did vow that Weasley's treatment of you was not going to get the better of you. You would not let him win that way. Princess, right now he is ahead on points."
Hermione was staring at her father, she knew he was right. And damnit, she had vowed not to wallow and give Ron a victory. He had had enough of a victory in practically forcing her from the Wizarding world and all its prejudices and strict rules in the first place. She had left so she could lead an independent life, free from any constrictors placed on her simply because, 'that is the way things have always been done'.
Hermione pushed her father so he would move, enabling her to stand as well. "You are right, I am going to go for a walk and pop into the pub for a meal and a pint. Maybe Wendy is up for a chat," Hermione supposed.
Emmet's face twisted into a small grimace. "Actually Wendy and Peter always have Tuesday and Wednesday nights off. They're the quietest nights you understand, so Peter's cousin looks after the bar on those nights. But he is a genial enough bloke, and you should meet more people in the village. Everyone likes him," Emmet told her encouragingly.
Hermione nodded with resolve. "I will go and meet him. That will be my new goal, to meet a new person each week. Thank you for being a little bit blunt with me, Dad. I needed to hear it," she said sincerely, giving her father a tight hug.
Emmet returned her embrace. "You are more than welcome, Princess," he said softly.
Hermione stood back and smiled. "I am going to shower and change, and then I'll go. I promise you won't see me before ten," she said with a wink.
Emmet simply smiled in response and gave her a little playful shove to get her moving. He relished the sound of her laughter coming from her. He could tell it was a little forced, and she would probably spend the next two days back on the window seat, but even a small start was a start. They could build on this.
Hermione wandered down the lane which would take her to the main road of the village. There were eight hundred people living in the village itself and a further one thousand living in farms and hamlets in the surrounding area. It was the kind of place where everyone knew everyone and, as the daughter of the local dentists, Hermione was always going to be something of a well-known inhabitant.
The Grangers were highly vocal about their brilliant daughter, extolling her virtues far and wide. Well not so much far and wide as much as to the patients sitting captive in their dentist chair. They had moved to this village when Hermione restored their memories and brought them back from Australia following the war. While apprehensive at first at what their daughter had done to them, learning a few home truths from Harry quickly found them clutching at their daughter, thanking her profusely for saving their lives.
She had done so, directly. In the aftermath of the war, documents had been found in the Ministry detailing various Muggle targets—people and locations—that the Death Eaters had planned to attack. Nine of the first ten had neat lines crossed through them, seventeen of the first twenty and forty-one of the first fifty, indicating the 'threats' that had been removed. The names Emmet and Alana Granger had been third on the list. Harry had shown it to them. Seeing how close they had come to death but for their daughter's actions quickly had them forgiving any slight they felt over her not discussing it with them first, and starting anew with her.
Breathing in the clean, country air as she walked, Hermione waved at the occupants of the few cars that drove past and said polite hello's to the people she saw in their front yards, watering plants or having an early evening drink on their front porches. Before she knew it she was standing in front of the pub. She could see one family sitting eating a meal and two old men she had been introduced to the previous Friday evening. They were watching the evening news on the television provided. She knew one of them was Peter's father, who had owned the pub before him and Wendy.
Shoulders squared, Hermione opened the door and stepped inside. The two old men gave her a cheery wave but quickly turned their focus back to the news programme. Hermione knew better than to interrupt seniors while they were watching the news. She gave a friendly smile to the family that were in the middle of their meal. They were a young couple with two children that looked to be about three and six. Hermione thought the woman to be not much older than her. She felt heartened at the obviously warm look the woman bestowed on her, like she thought maybe they could be friends.
Hermione stepped up to the bar, momentarily surprised when she saw the back of a man and realised it was not Peter. 'Oh yes, the cousin,' she remembered what her father had said. She admired the view the man was providing as he rummaged through a cupboard. He seemed to know she was there as his muffled voice came through, "I'll just be a second." Hermione told him to take his time and went back to ogling. The most prominent detail that held her focus was the trim, tight arse clad in a pair of faded blue denim jeans. She just wanted to reach out and run her hands over it. Her vision was drawn up to broad shoulders which were clad in an old Manchester United sweatshirt with the number 23 and 'Beckham' blazoned across the back. Fine, black hair was cut short in what looked to be one of the latest styles. 'I wonder if the front looks as good as the back,' Hermione mused as she willed the bartender to stop rummaging and turn around.
The man finally stood with a bottle of rum in his hand, which he placed on the counter that ran the length of the wall behind the bar. He turned with a smile, ready to greet the familiar voice that had called to him. He could not place it from within the cupboard but he knew everyone in the village and surrounds so deduced it was obviously a local coming in for a drink and possibly a meal. His greeting died on his lips in shock when he came face to face with Hermione Granger.
Hermione returned the man's shocked gaze with one of her own. If she had had all the time in the world, she would never have guessed that the arse she had just been ogling and the shoulders she had just been drooling over would turn out to belong to the man who had turned to greet her. She was now looking into the dark eyes of Severus Snape.
I hope you enjoyed the beginning. Please leave a review if you would like to but do not feel under obligation to do so whatsoever.