Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter. The First Name Ceremony is a tradition where I went to college and I have no idea if they do it anywhere else.

First Name Basis

"We have a tradition here at Hogwarts," Dumbledore had told the seventh years that morning. "After the Leaving Feast, those students leaving us for the last time line up and shake the hands of your professors, calling them by their first name. It's symbolic of your transition from student to equal, from child to adult. I hope that you will find the experience special."

Hermione had balked at the announcement. She didn't like being reminded that she would have to soon leave the one place where she felt comfortable and safe. Hogwarts was a sanctuary, not only because of the war that raged between good and evil outside its walls, but because she found purpose and belonging here.

Most of her classmates were excited to shrug off the confines of school, but there was no library full of books to be read, there were no essays to write and rewrite until the perfect turn of phrase was found, there were no Professors willing to discuss the latest points of theory with her outside in the real world.

Calling her professors by their first names only forced her to accept that she would no longer be a student. She didn't even know if she could do anything else. Were there jobs writing essays on obscure points of Arithmancy? She didn't think so, but if there were, they probably didn't pay well.

Professor McGonagall, or was it Minerva now, had told her in her career counseling sessions that she "could do anything." Hermione had found that to be the most useless piece of drivel yet. She knew it was meant to be both complimentary and encouraging, but 'anything' could mean 'everything' and how was she to choose? She didn't even know most of what was available to her.

Besides it would be awkward to suddenly switch from 'Professor' and 'Sir' to their given names. It implied a certain amount of intimacy that would be forced upon them. She wondered briefly if the teachers felt the same way. Was this another hare-brained idea of the headmaster's?

But then again most of her professors already called her Hermione, so it wouldn't be such a switch for them. The only one who had refrained had been Professor Snape. Miss Granger—he had called her nothing else in her seven years at school, unless you counted the times he had insulted her by saying she was a know-it-all.

And now, in less than two weeks she would have to call him Severus. She didn't like the prospect. She had, of course, heard others call him that at 12 Grimmauld Place, but to her, she thought, he would always be Professor Snape. His imposing figure and permanent scowl demanded respect. How often had she reminded Harry to call him Professor and now they were being told, no encouraged, to forget all that and address him by his first name.

She knew she was obsessing over this, but it was what she did. She tired of stressing over NEWTs, she had spent the two years since OWLs doing that. This, at least, provided fodder for her other than tests and Voldemort.

And what if….? No, surely not. She had a tendency to talk when she shouldn't or more than was needed, but even she had the good sense not to…. Damn Lavender and Parvati and their stupid games.

In the last year they had started playing this stupid game where names of boys were chosen and then after some sort of complex and magical formula, (one Hermione had yet to figure out despite her interest in Arithmancy,) you were told who would marry, where you would live, and how many kids you would have. It undoubtedly came from that insect Trelawney, but they had forced her into it in a moment of weakness.

"Okay, now pick six guys," they had told her.


"Well, Ron and Harry, naturally. So four more," Parvati said.

"Why don't you choose for me." This of course had been her fatal mistake.

"Ooh, okay, well write down Neville," Lavender told Parvati.

"And Dean," Parvati added, her quill scratching furiously while Hermione watched bored and wishing that Madame Pince hadn't fallen ill.

"Ok, but we need some people outside of Gryffindor…how about Malfoy?"

Hermione frowned deeply but it only seemed to encourage Parvati more as she wrote down Draco's name with relish. She suddenly realized why most of her close friends were male.

"Oh! And we need a professor!" Lavender said, getting more and more excited.

"Why?" Hermione asked bewildered.

"I would think it's obvious. A brainy girl like you needs someone who can match her intellect, now let's see..."

"That's hardly fair," she protested. "Most of the male professors are ancient, and Binns is even dead!"

"Hmm you're right," Parvati said, and for one brief, shining, beautiful moment Hermione had thought she had been freed the embarrassment of possibly being paired with Dumbledore or Flitwick.

"What about Snape?" Lavender chimed in. Hermione's face fell, screwing up in a look of distaste.

It had gotten even worse when after ten minutes of figuring the pair had informed her that her intended was indeed Professor Snape, and apparently they were to live in a shack with four children.

As if the Potions master would ever condescend to live in a shack, she rather thought his tastes were above that. And he hated children! That much was obvious on a daily basis. Besides all that she would never marry him in the first place, although perhaps that should have been her first assertion.

"You better get used to calling him Severus. It would be weird yelling for Professor Snape to take out the garbage or put the kids to bed, wouldn't it?" Lavender had said with an evil laugh.

"Not Severus…but Sevie," Parvati had countered. They had laughed so hard they had fallen off Hermione's bed, which was good because she had been getting ready to shove them off anyway.

"This is a stupid game," she had spat before storming out of the room in search of better company.

But the name had stuck with her. When he filed past her desk in Potions, his overly large nose sniffing out any mistakes, she couldn't help but smile at the thought of her, or anyone else for that matter, calling him Sevie. When he insulted her until tears stung her eyes, she held them back by thinking of answering back with an equally sarcastic retort punctuated by calling him Sevie. It was her own private joke that somehow made him seem more human.

Except now she would have to call him by his first name to his face. What if she slipped up and the little nickname she had used for months now slipped out.

She mustn't let that happen.