A/N: In honor of the Potions Master's Birthday, I jotted down this on the spur of the moment...obviously.

Happy B'day, Severus

Marauder Era/Time Travel/AU

Pairing? Not so much but Severus/Hermione as far as that goes...

Rated G

. . .

Being sent back in time had been a huge compliment to Hermione. The Order trusted her to make things right; things that had gone so dreadfully, desperately wrong. Dumbledore had held too many cards too close to his vest, becoming closed-mouth and distrustful of everyone before he committed Suicide by Horcrux.

That Hermione had escaped with her sanity intact from Torture by The Dark Lord was due entirely to the Greasy Git of the Dungeons Who Wasn't So Bad After All, Professor Snape.

When Professor McGonagall had sent Hermione back in time, Hermione had wished to make right one thing in particular: she wanted to keep Snape from having the reputation he'd acquired later in life. Namely, being a Greasy Git. Wizarding Britain owed him so much more than a derisive appellation.

Having arrived post-Dark-Marking but pre-Betrayal, Hermione did her best to get on Severus Snape's good side. He did have one, she'd learnt. So she'd found him at his old house in Spinner's End, north of Birminghamshire. She'd learnt his direction after doing some research before she'd been sent back, so it was no trouble, really, to Apparate there.

She knocked with, she hoped, some authority on the chipped, ancient door of the dilapidated brick house. She kept her wand in her hand and her hand just inside the lapel of her coat. She knocked again and then did a detection spell to make sure that Severus hadn't escaped by Floo.

No, he was there. She heard a hard, angry step approach the door. "Who is it and whom are you seeking?"

"My name's Hermione, and I've got a potion for you."

There was a series of loud turnings and pullings as several locks disengaged. This was a very Muggle strategy and Hermione had to wonder why he utilized it. She didn't ask, though, when he poked his nose and one eye into the barely open crack of the door. "You aren't from the apothecary."

His voice was still like dark chocolate nestled in black velvet and Hermione managed somehow not to smile. "No, I'm from, er, your old school, sir," she murmured with a quick look around. She was being so obvious, but he didn't seem to take exception. The door opened another inch. She nodded politely and slid a green glass bottle from one pocket. He stiffened but then nodded in his turn. "This, sir, is a potion for you. It's to aid in, er, any post-brewing clean-up. A gift. I was sent," she said in perfect honesty, "from Minerva." It was so odd to use her professor's first name.

One ink-black brow rose. "Oh?" He accepted the bottle with the barest of touches and she could see him execute a series of revelatory spells on it. "Hm. No hexes or tracking charms."

"No, sir. It's a personal clean-up item, truly. Er, happy birthday?"

He snorted and slid the bottle into his own pocket. "Extend," he said slowly, "my most sincere gratitude to Minerva." Every word dripped sarcasm, but he kept the bottle and shut the door in her face.

Months later, she intercepted him at a certain job interview and, after re-introducing herself, she smiled to see his hair. Clean, soft, black, and actually shorter than it used to be.

He'd used her potion! No matter what happened, he would no longer be known as The Greasy Git.

"Hi, there," she said, turning on all her available charm and laying a hand lightly on his arm. "Remember me? From your birthday?"

When he jolted, then smiled a little, she realized she'd distracted him and offered to buy him a drink.

A prophecy may have been made that night, but he didn't hear it.

And Dumbledore would never, ever, hold him hostage.

Happy birthday, Severus, she mused over her butterbeer.

And, as if he read her mind, he lifted one brow and offered her a small, curious smile.