Severus and Hermione bring the wine. Grimmauld place is a little crowded when they show up. Harry greets them at the door. Hermione throws her arms around him.
"Oof," says Harry, but he gives her a big bear hug. "Are you okay?" he whispers in her ear.
"He can hear you," Hermione says in a normal voice, "But thank you for asking. I'm fantastic."
Harry lets her go, Severus steps forward and puts out his hand. "Harry," he says, "Thank you for having us. We brought a few bottles of wine, can I get them opened to breathe in the kitchen?"
Harry's eyebrows go up at the warm greeting from the Professor of snark. He shakes Snape's hand. "Sure, professor," he says, "You know the way."
Snape nods and moves past Harry and Hermione through the hall. "And it's Severus," he says, "When you call me professor I feel like I'm about to give you detention."
Hermione and Harry gape after their surly Potions Professor, surly no longer.
"What did you do to him Hermione?" Harry says, deadly serious. "Is it the Imperius? Or the mother of all cheering charms? Tell me."
Hermione smiles, wondering if she should keep telling Harry Severus can hear him. "I am as surprised as you are," she says. Then, "Am I hearing Luna?"
"Uh, yeah, I invited Luna and Neville. I thought you wouldn't mind."
"Not at all. I'm glad you did."
In the kitchen, Severus is uncorking the first bottle of wine. Everyone is a bit uneasy, and he wonders how to break the ice. If it weren't for Hermione, he would have enjoyed nothing more than to make them all sweat bullets for the whole affair. These dimwits are the people Hermione loves, you asshole. They were good to her when you were busy humiliating her and ridiculing her. Now she's leaving them to be with you. Figure out a way to make them comfortable and do it right quick.
"How are you, Professor Snape?" It's Neville that breaks the ice. The children all stare at him. Their expressions range from concerned to bewildered to terrified.
"Please, everyone, call me Severus," he says. He can't quite bring himself to smile, the expression just isn't natural to him unless he's looking at Hermione. But he tries his best to look calm. Pleasant even. "I'm not a Professor anymore. And thank you for asking, Neville. I'm better than I have been in two decades. How is your Grandmother?"
Hermione and Harry enter the kitchen to Severus pouring glasses of wine and inquiring after Neville's Gran. Hermione is so happy she tears up.
"Excuse me," she says, and rushes off to the loo before she embarrasses herself. When she returns moments later, Severus looks across the room at her, raising his eyebrows. Are you okay?
"I'm perfect, love. Happy." She says it under her breath, so that only he can hear. Then she goes to help Ginny and Harry with the table.
Severus is talking to Luna now, asking her how she likes editing the Quibbler.
"Oh, it's lovely to finally be in charge. I'm working on a piece right now on Minister Kingsley. He employs an old childhood friend as an assassin," she tells him conspiratorially. "I've also been working on a series of personal interviews with members of Dumbledore's army and the Order of the Phoenix. It's for a series of articles I'm calling 'Stories of the Resistance.'"
Severus nods pleasantly. "I received your correspondence. I appreciate the effort, but I don't do interviews."
"A quote won't kill you, Severus," she says in her sing song voice.
Severus looks at her. Then, "I'll give you something better. On the record. It was I who put an end to the House of Slytherin. I told the sorting hat not to sort any boy or girl into Slytherin if they held prejudices about blood purity. If the ancient Wizarding families want save House Slytherin, they have to stop raising bigoted little assholes." He smiles at her then. A genuine smile that doesn't even have the hint of a sneer.
The kitchen is dead quiet.
Then Ginny speaks up. "Are you fucking serious?"
"As a fucking heart attack," he says, turning to her. "Think of it as my parting gift to the so called pure blooded Wizarding families of Great Britain."
Ginny is stunned. "I- I don't know what to say. I think I don't hate you anymore."
"Pity," replies Severus easily. "That little hex of yours is hilarious."
By the time they are seated around the kitchen table for dinner, the mood is warm and lighthearted. People are talking easily, and it's almost as if Snape's seven year reign of terror over them never happened.
Ginny raises her glass. "To house Slytherin," she says, toasting Snape. Everyone laughs and cheers.
"To Severus and Hermione," says Harry, "Good luck in Venice."
"To the light," says Ron, who has been quiet and thoughtful tonight, but not rude, for which Hermione is grateful. "And those who died for it."
Severus turns to Ginny and Ron, seated next to each other. "I'm sorry for your loss," he says. "To Fred Weasley."
Ginny reaches for Ron's hand under the table. She can't speak, but she touches her glass to Snape's.
Severus touches his glass to Neville's. "Frank and Alice Longbottom," he says.
Last he turns to Harry. "Lily and James Potter," he says, looking into Harry's bright green eyes. I'm sorry I couldn't save them, Harry.
Later in the evening, Severus even remembers to thank them for 'that ridiculous card.' Every time he wants to make a snarky comment or insult Weasley, he looks down at Hermione seated next to him. He doesn't remember ever having seen her look so happy. The snarky comments die on his lips before he utters them.
When it is time to go, Severus shakes Harry's hand and bids the others a polite farewell. Hermione is standing next to him, in fact, she has hardly left his side all evening. He puts a hand to her cheek and kisses her forehead tenderly.
"Take all the time you need for goodbyes, love. I'll wait for you in the hall." Then he looks up at Ginny. "No hex for me this time Ginny? You're losing your edge," he smirks, and departs the room.
Hermione gives up trying not to cry. She exchanges tearful hugs with everyone, and promises to invite them to Venice once she gets settled in. Her last hug she saves for Harry and Ron.
"God's I love you guys, she says, holding them both to her, one with each arm. Ever since the thing with the troll. Answer my owls when I write to you." She kisses them both on the cheek.
On the front stoop of Grimmauld place, Hermione and Severus prepare to apparate home.
"I'm too emotional, Severus," she says, still teary eyed. "Will you get me home safe?"
He takes her in his arms. "Always," he says, and with a little *pop* they disappear into the night- together.
A/N That's a wrap, my dear readers! Your support has been awesome. This story will continue on Archive of our own, under the name Hermione and the Philosopher King, part two of the series titled afterwards. Link is archiveofourown(dot)org/works/11885115
Thank all of you for the lovely comments. Cloudshape don't worry I'm snorkeling every morning. I'm here on this little island (Bunaken, you can Google it) for a month. I came here to snorkel and write and I am loving it! Also- I understand not having an account on Ao3. I have guest reviews turned on I think so you can still comment if you want to.
I hope to see each and every one of you on Ao3. Love you guys.