Disclaimer: It's not mine, y'all know the drill by now.

A/N: Well hello to all my old readers who have decided to come along on another crazy ride with me, and hello to all my new ones! Glad you're here, now for a little information about the story and all that jazz. The story takes place starting the summer after 6th year. Voldemort was killed by Harry during sixth year in a battle (I'll leave it to your imaginations what happened in the war. I just didn't feel like leaving Moldy Voldy alive), soHarry can now just focus on his dreams of becoming an auror. Anyways, the gang and a bunch of people are living at Number 12 Grimmauld Place together. Hermione's an un-official Weasley since her parents were killed by deatheaters during the previous year. Also, Severus Snape is living there as a precautionary measure to keep him alive since the deatheaters found out he was spying for the light side and they're looking for revenge. Anyways, this story is going to have the pairings Hermione/Percy, and Hermione/Severus. I'm still debating who Hermione will end up with in the end,but there will be angst (hopefully, I don't know if I can reallywrite it) on both parts. Severus will hopefully stay in character, as will everyone else. I can only say that I will do my best to live up to your expectations. Anyways, I hope you'll like it, and now…on to the story!

Playing Pretend

Chapter One: The Beginning

He was killing himself. Not in the usual way, with pills or a knife to slit his wrists, but he was killing himself just the same. He had been, for many years now, and it was beginning to show.

It had begun when he joined the death eaters and gave up part of his soul to the devil on earth known as Voldemort. Then it became even worse when he began teaching and spying for the light side. Preventing students, inept children most of them, from blowing themselves up was a very trying thing for him. He had never had much tolerance or patience for immature, spoiled brats and what little he had had disappeared his first day of teaching. And now…now there was nothing left for him. With the defeat of the Dark Lord a few weeks ago by Potter, he was freed from his double role. However, the few death eaters who had escaped almost certainly wanted to kill him.

And now to present day, at a dingy number 12 Grimmauld Place. The house would be continuously filled with people; some permanently for the summer with others only for short intervals. Currently the occupants of the house included Arthur and Molly, with their brood Bill, Charlie, Fred, George, and Percy. Ron, Ginny, Luna, Harry, and Hermione were due any minute from King's Cross with their escorts Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin.

"SEVERUS!" he heard the voice of the formidable Molly Weasley call up the stairs. "The children are almost here, so come down to greet them. We're eating dinner soon too!"

Severus shook his head in disgust. He hadn't asked to stay at headquarters, and he definitely didn't ask to deal with the gleesome threesome outside of school. Not to mention the fact that he wasn't hungry, although that was nothing new. He barely ate anything these days always giving the very useful excuse that he had a potion to tent to, and would get something to eat later. Nine and a half times out of ten though, he didn't. Usually he tanked up on coffee instead. He found the lack of appetite due to the state of depression he had been desperately fighting against sinking any deeper into then he already had.

"SEVERUS SNAPE! You come down here right this instant, or so help me I'll tell Albus, don't you think I won't!" Molly's tone of voice held a very evident warning.

Putting aside the lesson plans he had been revising, he pulled on a cloak and quickly made his way downstairs just in time to join the group gathered in the living room. Placing himself in the corner farthest from where the children would enter, he acknowledged Molly with a curt nod and a glare. Not a minute later, the front door could be heard opening and voices drifted in.


"Hurry up Mione, you're taking too long," Ron groaned in annoyance as he pulled his trunk up the steps to what would be their home for the summer.

"Honestly Ron, not all of us are over six feet tall and able to pull a heavy trunk with ease," Hermione retorted bossily, struggling with her trunk before Remus came over and gave her a hand. "Thank you Remus."

"Sorry Mione, but I'm just excited to see everyone; Charlie, Bill, and the twins are going to be here!" Ron apologised.

"And Percy too, don't forget," Ginny piped up as she and Luna hauled their trunks out, with the help of Harry.

"Yeah Ron, how could you forget your favourite brother?" Harry grinned as he hauled his trunk up the steps along with the others and through the door to the front hall.

"Mum, Dad!" Ginny called out as their trunks vanished, automatically going to their rooms.

"In the living room dear!" They all heard Molly call out, and thus headed in that direction.

"WELCOME HOME!" Everyone yelled when they appeared. Well, almost everyone; Snape didn't bother of course, but the gang didn't even see him.

Molly rushed forward and enveloped each of the kids in a hug before passing them off to another person. Ginny immediately threw herself at Fred and George, while Ron and Harry went to greet Bill and Charlie. Luna began conversing with one of the portraits on the wall, and Hermione simply stepped off to the side to them, somewhat sad. A few months before, Voldemort had killed her parents, and a polyjuice version of herself, leaving her dead to the muggle world and any relatives she might've stayed with. So now she was technically homeless, and spent her vacation time at Hogwarts or Grimmauld Place. Molly had offered her a home with them, but she knew that even with the promotion Arthur had received, they were still struggling, and she couldn't ask them to support her also. Besides, she had enough money set aside in stocks and bonds that she would be all right till she finished her schooling and got a job.

"Cheer up there love," a low and warm voice spoke from beside her. "I mean, what's there to be sad about when you're surrounded by handsome red heads?"

"Absolutely nothing," Hermione said with a laugh as she turned to face Percy's open arms.

"Good," he smiled at her and pulled her into a tight embrace that she gladly accepted, grateful for its warmth and comfort.

Percy and Hermione had been writing letters back and forth since her fourth year. Even when he had been a prick and out-of-sorts with his family, she had stayed by him, continuing to write. And eventually, she was the one who convinced him to go back and make amends.

"So how've you been? Work still going well for you?" Hermione questioned as she finally pulled back.

"Yes, actually. I'm being promoted to assistant Minister of Magic, and they're even throwing a party in my honour!" Percy couldn't help but boast a little.

"That's wonderful, congratulations!" Hermione leaned over and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Thanks Mione. Actually, I have a favour to ask you, in regards to the party."

"Sure, what is it?"

"Well, I've been told I can bring a date, and everyone who's been invited that I know will be bringing one, so I figured that since we've been friends for so long that you might like to go with me?" Percy finally managed to get out.

"Anything for a friend," Hermione replied simply, fighting a smile at his longwinded proposal. "Just let me know when it is so that I can make sure I have a dress robe ready. Or do I just need a dress?"

"Either is fin, but most of the younger crowd will be wearing muggle attire, as will I, so a dress might work better. As for when it is," Percy's ears began turning red. "It's uh…well, it's this coming Saturday."

"Nothing like giving a girl some notice, huh Percy?" Hermione glared playfully. "Six days. Oh well, I'm sure your mum will be able to help me."

"She'll be ecstatic! Ginny hates dressing up, so she'd love to play dress up with you. Oh, and let me apologise now for my family. My brothers are sure to tease you, and Mum'll probably try to marry us off. She's desperate for another daughter besides Ginny, not to mention grandchildren. Especially since Bill and Charlie seem confirmed to bachelorhood, and Fred and George want to continue promoting their store before they think of settling down.

"I expected that Percy. It's not like it isn't common knowledge that she thinks you're the only one who will settle down soon," Hermione laughed. "Will you excuse me for a second?"

"Sure, and thanks again Mione," he said giving her a quick hug before going to say hello to Tonks and Remus.

Hermione shook her head in amusement. Percy's antics had put her in better spirits. First his taking a while to invite her to the dance, and then apologising for his family ahead of time all in the same breath practically. After composing herself, she made her way to where she had seen Professor Snape sulking in the corner, sneering at the occupants of the room.

"Good afternoon Professor," Hermione greeted, and was rewarded with a glare.

"What?" His tone was curt, and filled with venom.

"I just wanted to know if you had made a decision about my apprenticeship application," she replied quietly, but continued to meet his glare.

"No, now leave," he spat, and was satisfied when she quickly left him to his semi-solitude once more.

Hermione had always respected the bitter potions master, even with every insult and belittling remark he directed towards her. She knew he was one of the best, if not the best, Potions Masters in the world, and that was why she had applied to be his apprentice during the following year. Knowing Snape however, there was little chance of him giving it to her, but she had decided to try anyways. She hadn't told Ron or Harry, and would try to refrain from doing so, at least for a while. She knew they would call her crazy for wanting to, especially since he was such a bastard. And truth be told, she had to agree; he was a bastard. She respected him and the work he had done for the order, but that didn't change her opinion of him. She just didn't understand how someone could be so cruel and seemingly heartless.

"All right everyone, into the dining room with yourselves, dinner's ready!" Molly called out, and the boys immediately rushed to sit down while Ginny and Hermione went to help Molly bring out the numerous dishes. As the last one was brought out, Ginny quickly grabbed the seat between Harry and Luna with an apologetic smile towards Hermione who ended up between Percy and Snape. Dinner was a loud and cheerful affair, and Severus hated it. He pushed around some meat and vegetables, taking only a few bites before excusing himself to see to a potion, all while ignoring Molly's glare. However, the tension around the table, while small, dissipated completely with his leaving, and conversation became even louder and more boisterous.

"Molly, are you doing anything in the next few days?" Hermione asked the matriarch who was sitting across from her.

"Nothing for the order if that's what you mean. I'll probably justhave everyonecleaning around here, why?" Molly questioned.

"I have a dance to go to on this Saturday, and I'm not confident enough with my fabric transfigurations to risk ruining a dress, so I was wondering if you wouldn't mind helping me with it?"

"Oh I'd love to!" Her ecstatic voice carried over the din of the conversation, and everyone turned their attention to Molly, curious.

"What would you love to do Mum?" Charlie questioned.

"Help Hermione transfigure a dress for a dance!" She exclaimed. "Especially since Ginny hates to dress up."

"Mum!" Ginny protested slightly, but it was true. She didn't really like to dress up unless she had to.

"What dance are you going to?" Fred questioned.

"Do you have a date?" George chimed in.

"Ooooh, does our little Mione have a booooyyyyfrieeeeennnnnd? They drawled out simultaneously.

"The dance is the ministry party in Percy's honour this Saturday, yes I have a date, and no, I don't have a boyfriend," she pursed her lips in annoyance at their childish antics.

"Who is it Mione? Do I know him?" Ron got suspicious. He and Harry always played the role of big brother towards her and demanded to know every little detail about every guy who was a potential date or potential boyfriend.

"Honestly Ron, must you act like a caveman?" Hermione huffed, but couldn't help but smile a little. "It's Percy, so it's safe to say you know him."

"Percy!" Molly exclaimed. "Oh that's wonderful, you two make such a lovely couple!"

"Mum, Hermione and I are not a couple," Percy muttered, ears bright red. "We're going as friends, and she's doing this as a favour to me, nothing more."

"Oh," Molly looked slightly crestfallen at that statement, but continued on proudly. "Well, you'd still make a lovely couple if you ever change your mind. He's a good boy Hermione."

"Yes Molly, I know, and he's a wonderful friend," she smiled at Molly and then leaned over and ruffled Percy's hair, much to the amusement of his brothers who instantly began teasing him.

Dinner winded down with much teasing of Percy on behalf of his brothers till Molly finally threatened to make them do all the house cleaning without the use of magic or magical cleaners. They promptly shut up after that, although they continued to sendteasing looks towards him. Everyone began drifting to the living room as they finished clearing their plates, leaving a tiring looking job left behind.

"You'd think that after all their years at home they'd know to put their dishes in the sink by now," Molly said laughing. "Boys will be boys I suppose."

"Why don't you go join Arthur and relax while I clean-up?" Hermione suggested. "It's only fair since you did the cooking."

"And I'll help her," Percy added when he saw his mum hesitate.

"Well thank you, I think I will," she took off her apron with a smile before pushing through the swinging door into the next room.

"You didn't have to do that you know," Hermione said as she began collecting the silverware onto a plate. "I know you'd probably rather spend time with your family."

"I know I didn't have to, but trust me," he smiled brightly as he began gathering glasses. "Your company is much more preferable then that of my brothers."

"What, you mean you don't enjoy talking about quidditch?" Hermione gave a mock gasp as they set the stuff down on the kitchen counter and went back for dishes. "I'm shocked."

"Oh there's a time and place for quidditch, but generally I find other things infinitely more interesting."

"Oh yeah, like what?" Hermione asked as Percy began washing while she began drying.

"Like…how did those bubbles get on your nose?"

"What bubb?" Hermione began, but was cut off as Percy slid a suds covered finger over her nose. "Why you pompous little git!"

"Thank you. Oh and look, there's some more," he cupped a handful of bubbles and plopped them on top of her head.

Hermione shrieked in indignation and promptly threw her towel at his face. While he was distracted by that she grabbed some bubbles from the sink and threw them at his face. From that point on it was an all out suds and water fight between the two of them. It went on for several minutes, each becoming soapier and wetter by the second until someone clearing their throat stopped them.

"Ahem," Professor Snape stared at them with an expression of loathing.

"Good evening Professor," Hermione had the decency to look ashamed. "Did you need something?"

"Only peace and quiet and a fifth of brandy," he sneered as he fully took in their appearance. "Your rough-housing is disrupting my concentration on a very delicate potion at the moment."

"Sorry sir," Percy apologised, also properly chastised. "We'll be quiet."

"So I should hope. See that you stay that way!" And he turned around and stalked back upstairs.

Hermione and Percy turned and looked at each other before breaking out in restrained laughter, not wanting to bother Snape again. They surveyed the mess that had been made and began to clean up. Nearly two hours and many towels later they had the kitchen clean, the dishes done, and their clothes changed. They exchanged one last laugh over the evening's mess and with a hug, headed up to bed as tomorrow would begin the summer house cleaning, dictated by Molly Weasley.

A/N: Well that's the first chapter everyone. I know, maybe it's not horribly exciting, but it gives a little background into some things, like Severus' feelings and Percy and Hermione's relationship, and it's got a fun little fight at the end. I guess it sort of serves as an establishing scene for the story. Anyways, I hope you like it. I'll be working on the next chapter and hopefully have it up in a week or two. Fair warning though; I'm a college freshman taking 21 credits (7 classes), so I may be busy. As with my last story Take Time to Smell the Roses, I promise it will be updated and not left unfinished, but depending on school and life (and I do have a life, however pathetic lol), updates may be slow. So stick with me please? As always, review if you like, flames are fine too, and constructive criticism is always appreciated!