8th January 1977

Saturday morning Hermione and Amelia made sure to set aside a few hours for each other, since plans fell through for them during the week. It took a lot of convincing, but eventually she talked Amelia into sneaking to Hogsmeade with her. Severus' birthday was the following day, and she hadn't had the chance to get a gift for him. Ordering anything through the post would have taken too long, so she felt as if she really didn't have any other option.

She led Amelia to the statue of the one-eyed witch, which held the secret passageway right to Honeydukes cellar. Once she opened it, Amelia looked at Hermione with wide eyes.

"How did you know about this?" she asked, looking over her shoulder to make sure they weren't seen.

Stalling for time to think of a cover story, Hermione grabbed Amelia by the wrist, and quickly ducked into the passageway. When the entrance from the statue closed, they were surrounded by an inky blackness so thick, that they couldn't even see their hands in front of their faces. Both girls lit their wands, creating a sphere of silver light around them.

"I saw James Potter and Sirius Black enter it one day," she lied, thinking that would seem believable enough. "I followed them in, and told them if they didn't tell me what they were up to, I would go to my uncle."

Amelia laughed loudly; Hermione quickly shushed her.

"Sorry," she whispered, then giggled more quietly. "That's diabolical."

Before Amelia could question her further, Hermione smoothly changed the subject. She asked about how things were going with Remus, and the girls then fell into conversation about their respective boyfriends, how their holidays were, and how quickly the school year seemed to be flying by. Truthfully it was. It was hard to believe that it was already half way through. She felt as if she had only just arrived there.

When they reached the trapdoor which led to the cellar, Hermione held her finger up to her lips, indicating for Amelia to remain silent. Very gently she pushed the door up, and stuck her head partially out to check for the owners, or employees. Luckily there was no one there, so she pushed it fully opened, and beckoned Amelia forward.

As stealthy as they could manage, Hermione and Amelia tiptoed through the maze of crates stacked around them, and towards the stairs that led to the ground floor of the shop. When they reached the top of the steps, Hermione cracked opened the door, and peered into the store. Luck seemed to truly be on their side that morning. The shop was empty, save for a young blonde witch, who was bent over stocking a shelf with her back to them both. As quietly as she could, Hermione opened the door, and the two girls crept around the counter, right behind the employee, and towards the front door. She knew as soon as she opened it, the bell would ring, but it was of no matter. She already planned this part out. Hermione figured that once the bell rang out, she and Amelia would pretend that they had just entered the store.

Hermione reached for the handle, and turned to look at Amelia. Follow my lead, she mouthed. Amelia nodded.

Quickly Hermione opened the door and saw the employee jump slightly at the noise. She turned around with a fixed smile on her face.

"Good morning, girls," she said brightly.

"Morning," they both said in unison.

The young woman eyed their Hogwarts robes with a raised eyebrow, and her fixed smile morphed into a knowing smirk.

"I wasn't aware that this was a Hogsmeade weekend for the school," she said slyly.

Hermione and Amelia both stammered, which caused the young woman to laugh.

"Don't worry," she told them. "I would be lying if I said I never snuck out of the castle when I attended Hogwarts. Your secret is safe with me," she told them with a wink.

Both of them thanked her, and although Hermione originally wasn't planning on buying anything, she decided to get both herself and Amelia some Chocolate Frogs. She felt it was the least she could have done, considering the employee wasn't giving them a difficult time.

As they said goodbye, and walked out of Honeydukes, Amelia reached and squeezed Hermione's upper arm.

"I thought we were done for!" she exclaimed.

Hermione couldn't help but to laugh at the panicked expression on Amelia's face. She wondered if this was the first time in her school career that Amelia so blatantly broke the rules.

"We should probably get a move on. I don't think it's a good idea for us to linger about," Hermione said through her laughter.

They walked down the road briskly, each of them avoiding eye contact with any adults they passed along the way. Hermione glanced at each of the shoppes as she passed, still having no idea what she could possibly give to Severus. Then suddenly, one of the buildings caught her eye.

It wasn't the nicest looking establishment. The paint was peeling off of the siding, and the metal door was orange with rust. There was an odd assortment of items hanging in the display window, reminding her a bit of a Muggle pawn shop. She didn't know why, but she felt as if she were to find anything he might like, it would have been in there.

"Can we look in here?" Hermione asked, as they stood out in front of the place.

Amelia's nose crinkled in disgust. "Really?" she asked.

Hermione took her wrist and pulled her towards the door. "Come on, I won't be long," she promised.

With nothing other than a loud sigh as a response, Amelia allowed Hermione to tow her inside.

Stepping through the doorway, immediately she knew she was in a strange place. The smell reminded her of the attic at her parent's house - musty with a hint of dirt. There were jars on the shelves filled with bugs and other disgusting things, pretty reminiscent to the ones that Severus would come to have in his office at Hogwarts. Old rusted instruments hung from the ceiling, faded and patched bits of furniture littered the floor, and ahead of her was a display case with an assortment of jewelry and other trinkets.

She jumped when a wheezing voice spoke from behind a rack of faded Wizarding robes.

"Looking for anything in particular," the old man said, as he limped out from behind the rack.

Amelia's hand tightened around Hermione's arm as he neared. The man was ancient, probably well over one hundred years old. His eyes were clouded over with cataracts, and puffs of white hair came from his ears. He was hunched over, so that the shine from his bald head was clearly visible. Hermione understood Amelia's reaction, the man was extraordinarily creepy.

Hermione and Amelia took an automatic step back as he neared.

"No, not really," Hermione said. "Just looking for now."

Amelia's head bobbed, she seemed unable to speak.

The old man waved his arm out in front of him. "Take your time," he told them, then let out a single dry cough. "I'll be right here if you need me."

"Thank you, sir," said Hermione, and turned in the direction of the display case.

When they walked away, Amelia leaned in closer to Hermione.

"Creepy," she whispered in a singsong voice.

Hermione snorted, then covered it with a cough. "Stop," she scolded half-heartedly.

"Why did you want to come in here?" asked Amelia, as Hermione hunched down to better look at the items behind the glass.

She shrugged, "I don't know. I just had a feeling that I would find something Severus would like."

Her eyes scanned over a silver wand holder, which was in the shape of a serpent. It looked vaguely familiar to her; she would have sworn that she had seen it before.

"Well, this place is very… unorthodox," Amelia whispered, while Hermione was trying to place where she'd seen that wand holder. Something about it made her think of Malfoy Manor. "I suppose this might be the type of place I could see Severus in."

Hermione took her eyes from the silver snake, and shot a look at Amelia. "What does that mean?" she hissed.

Amelia's eyes went wide. "Nothing!" she said quickly. "Just that he seems the type that would enjoy unusual objects."

"Sorry," Hermione mumbled. "You're right. He does, doesn't he?" She laughed.

She returned her attention back to the glass case in front of her, still looking for anything that might catch her eye. The silver wand holder was now all but forgotten.

There were golden chains, watches, Muggle-looking cigarette lighters, and loads of different items. Still, she couldn't find anything that said Severus to her. Until she spotted a ring that she knew she had seen before. Not only did she recognize it, she remembered exactly who it had belonged to in her time.

ooo

Hermione was fuming mad, as she sat writing her lines that evening. She couldn't believe she was wasting a night she could have been preparing for her OWLs in detention. I must not speak out of turn in class, she was forced to write five hundred times. She paused for a moment, to give another glare at Professor Snape, after her seventy-third line, but he wasn't paying her the least bit of attention.

It was completely unfair of him! She hadn't spoken out of turn at all. He asked a question in class, no one answered, so Hermione did. Like Ron had said two years prior, why would he ask a question if he had not intended for anyone to answer it?

She kept her eyes locked onto him, as he graded coursework at his desk. Occasionally she would hear him scoff at whatever one of the students must have written, and then he would scribble furiously onto their paper. She couldn't help but to roll her eyes at the miserable man.

Snape must have become aware of the silence, realizing Hermione had stopped writing, and looked up from his work.

"Is there a problem, Miss Granger?" he asked in his usual scathing tone.

Hermione's eyes narrowed. She felt an anger build inside her to rival the one she'd felt when Ron accused her cat Crookshanks of murdering his rat.

"Of course not, Professor," she said through her teeth.

At that moment, she thought she had gone mental. Professor Snape's mouth twitched, almost as if he were fighting a smile. But Snape never smiled. Not unless it was a cruel one, reserved for when he was insulting his students.

"Then I suggest you get back to work," he told her. "Unless you would like to have an additional five hundred lines tacked on."

Hermione's hand tightened around her quill, before focusing her attention back on the parchment in front of her. "Yes, sir," she mumbled, and continued her lines.

After an excruciating hour and a half, Hermione was finally finished. She put down her quill and stretched out her cramped fingers, then began packing up her belongings. As she sat back up, after stuffing her things into her bag, she was startled to see Snape standing before her.

"Finished?" he asked, as he towered over her. His hands rested on the edge of her desk.

For whatever reason, her eyes were drawn to his slender fingers, noticing the slight yellow discoloration between his left index and middle fingers. A telltale sign that he smoked Muggle cigarettes. She'd seen the same discoloration on her grandfather, when she was a small girl.

On his pinky, however, was a ring that she had never noticed before, since it was usually obstructed by the cuff of his long sleeves. It seemed so out of place on him, she thought. It was silver, the band was scaly, and in a setting that resembled the mouths of two snakes, was an oval emerald. How very Slytherin, she found herself thinking. It looked expensive, which was why she found it so strange for him to be wearing it, since normally he was in, what she could tell, were second hand robes.

"Miss Granger?" he asked. She looked up to find him watching her with that same emotion in his eyes, that she noticed the day she had used his stirring stick.

There was something about the subtle softening in his usually cold and dark eyes that unnerved her. For the second time in her life, Professor Snape almost looked human. It caused her anger to slowly melt away.

Hermione shook her head, then picked up the parchment on her desk. "Yes, sir. I'm finished," she said as she handed it to him.

With his usual quick movements, he snatched the paper from her, not removing his eyes from her face. For some inexplicable reason, she felt herself blush.

"You may go, Miss Granger," he said softly, before turning his back on her, and walking back to his desk.

She lingered for a moment, transfixed by the billowing of his black robes, then stood from her seat, before he caught her staring once again. When she reached the door, she paused.

"Goodnight, Professor," she said just loudly enough for him to have heard, then made her way from the classroom.

She was barely halfway down the corridor when she would have sworn she heard the sound of a glass smashing from inside his classroom.

ooo

"Excuse me, sir?" Hermione called out to the old shop owner.

With a crooked gait, he shuffled over to stand on the other side of the display case.

"How much is that ring?" she pointed at the very same silver ring, with the snakes and oval emerald.

It seemed she did find something in that place that Severus would have liked.

By the time Amelia and Hermione made it back to the castle, it was well passed lunch, and neither of them had eaten since breakfast. They decided not to stop into The Three Broomsticks while they were in town, out of the fear that one of the professors may have been in there, since quite a few of them frequented the pub on the weekends. As much as Hermione didn't want do it, she felt they had no other choice, and led Amelia down to the kitchens. They arrived at the portrait of the bowl of fruit, and Hermione tickled the pear, showing her friend another secret of the school that she, as a new student, should not have known.

It was strange to be in there, and not see Winky or - her throat constricted at the thought - Dobby in there. But of course the other elves were just as friendly, and just as willing to make sure the two girls left with full stomachs. She was so happy to see how kind Amelia was to the elves. Saying please, and thank you, and showed them the same common courtesies that she would have any witch or wizard. By the time they left, Amelia even admitted that she now understood why Hermione was such an advocate for their rights, since they were such sweet creatures.

When they made their way back to the first floor, Amelia thanked Hermione for the great time that she had that day. Even though she had been at that school for six years, she had never gone to Hogsmeade when it wasn't a scheduled weekend, and she had most certainly never visited the kitchens, or had a chance to meet the house elves there. She'd told her it was the most fun that she had in months.

Hermione had truly grown to care for Amelia over the course of her time there. Yes, she was close with Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood had become a good friend. Even if they girl had some outlandish beliefs at times. But Amelia, well she never related to another girl like her before, and Hermione knew that if they had actually gone to school with one another, they would have been lifelong friends. Every bit as close as she was with Harry and Ron. It was cruel that she wouldn't ever have the chance to reconnect with her, once she returned home.

After they parted ways - Amelia left to meet with Remus, Hermione wandered the halls of the school with no particular destination in mind. She hadn't seen Severus since the evening before, and she wasn't sure of where he even was at the moment.

While she walked, she thought back to the memory that hit her when she saw that ring at the strange shop. There were now two separate memories she had, of Severus in his future, her past, where he almost seemed to deliberately show her something that she had given him, while they were together at Hogwarts. Why would he have done that? He was horrible to her while she was his student. But then maybe the reason he was so horrible to her, was because she would one day leave him. Maybe he hoped that if he did treat her poorly, she wouldn't eventually travel to the past, and fall in love with him?

Whatever his reason may have been, she hoped one day she would have the opportunity to find out.

ooo

9th January 1977

After breakfast Sunday morning, Hermione paced nervously outside of the Great Hall, waiting for Severus to meet her. The box with his gift felt heavy in her pocket, knowing that the only reason she had bought it, was because she had seen his future self wearing it. Would he actually like it? Or did he only wear it that evening she had seen it as a way to let her know that he remembered her?

Hermione turned around quickly when she heard footsteps approaching. Her worries quickly disappeared when she saw Severus walk towards her, with a smile on his face in which he only reserved for her. Before even saying hello, he took her into his arms and kissed her gently.

"Happy Birthday, Severus," she said as they pulled apart.

His brow creased as he looked down at her. "I still want to know how you found out when my birthday is," he said with a small shake of his head. "I don't usually celebrate."

Hermione leaned up and kissed his cheek. "I asked my uncle," she told him. Which wasn't a lie. Hermione knew the headmaster had records of all of the students, so during one of their previous meetings, she asked him to find out when Severus' birthday was, figuring that since he didn't have many real friends in the school, he most likely did not celebrate it. She was determined to fix that, as well.

Severus snorted a short laugh. "You are something else, Hermione," he teased.

The pair then made their way to the empty classroom they so often occupied, and when they walked in, Hermione beamed up at him, as he took in their surroundings. In the middle of the room was one of the desks, with two stools for them to sit. A small cake, with green icing rested in the middle of it. While he was at breakfast that morning, Hermione was in the kitchens, asking the house elves if they could make the cake for him. She charmed green and silver streamers to hang, suspended in the air, above the desk, and a little banner which read: Happy Birthday Severus, floated just behind the cake.

Severus squeezed her hand as he looked at what she had done, and she saw the corner of his mouth turn up in a smile.

"Surprise," she said quietly.

He took a step forward, looking quite stunned that someone had actually gone through the trouble for him. His reaction warmed her heart just as much as it broke it. Still, he hadn't said a word.

"I know it's not much," she began. "But I wanted to do something for you."

Finally he took his eyes off of the small display she had set up, and turned to wrap his arms around her. "When did you do this?" he asked as he held her.

Hermione pulled back and looked up at him. "This morning. I woke up early to get it all together."

Again he shook his head in disbelief, before leaning in to kiss her.

"But I - I don't even know - I didn't do anything for your birthday," he stammered, looking uncharacteristically embarrassed. "I don't even know when it is…"

"It's alright, Severus," she tried to reassure him. "It's in September — the nineteenth. We were barely even friends at that point."

He let out a laugh. "No, we weren't. I found you rather annoying then, actually," he said with a smirk.

Hermione couldn't help it and laughed, too. "And I found you to be particularly irksome, as well."

His eyebrow raised at her admission, before he reached forward and placed his hands on each side of her waist. He pulled her in against him, and leaned down to nibble right below her ear.

"Do you still find me irksome now?" he asked. His breath tickled her neck, causing her to shiver.

"Only a little," she breathed out, as she leaned her head to the side.

Her heart raced as he trailed his lips down her neck and towards her collarbone. His hands left her waist, and he wrapped his arms around her, where he began lightly scratching his nails down her back. Her breath came out in short pants as he lifted the back of her jumper, and spread his hands across her bare skin.

In that moment she realized something, as she pressed herself more firmly against him. She was finished waiting. She wanted Severus, and she wanted him now.

Hermione gently pushed Severus back. He looked down upon her with a fire in his eyes, yet also with a frown forming on his lips.

"Too far?" he asked.

Her lips curled up into a smile, as she shook her head. Her mind was made up. It was time. She was ready.

"No, Severus." His eyes widened. She stood on her toes, placing her lips lightly against his ear. "I want you," she whispered.

ooo

A/N - Hey loves! I was so thrilled to see so many of you come back, after me being away for so long. Honestly, it meant so much that so many of you are still invested in this. And to see some new readers, as well, was wonderful! Thank you all, so, so much! *hugs everyone*

So some of you may have noticed a trend, but every 10 chapters, there's been a flashback/flashforward. I want to lie and say I planned it this way, but I actually didn't. I just happened to have one in the 10th chapter, and when I did the second one, I didn't even realize it was exactly 10 chapters later, until after I posted it. So I make sure to leave the last one until chatper 30, just to keep it consistent lol. I hope you all liked it!

Sooooo, yeah. There's a bit of a cliffy here. But don't worry, you won't be waiting too much longer. I've been writing chapter 31, so it should be up soon! I'm going to try to get it up around the same time next week. :)

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for all of the love and kind words. I truly appreciate you all more than I could tell you! 33

Much love,
Meg