Hermione Granger walked into her room, threw herself down on the small sofa, and let out a huge sigh. It had been a long day and all she wanted to do was take a nap and rest her sore throat and her aching head. To be frank, her students had worn her out. Hermione couldn't remember the last time that she had talked so much. Question after question after question. The lot of them were ruthless. She closed her eyes and started rubbing her temples. It had been more stressful than she had anticipated.
Hermione had thought that her students would come in, she would greet them, and then they'd pull out their books and start taking notes. Unfortunately they had wanted to know about her personal life. At first the questions had been easy. Things about her life at Hogwarts, before her seventh year, before she became damaged. Then, when she'd began to have classes with the sixth and seventh years they'd asked more invasive questions. What had she done after she had graduated? What was her role in the Battle of Hogwarts? These were questions that she never wanted to think about. She didn't want to discuss it.
She wanted her personal life to remain personal.
She should've known being back at Hogwarts wasn't the way to do that. Yet here she was, doing it anyway. It was really only because she didn't have a place anywhere else. The Muggle World had seemed empty to her. She had no connections except for distant relatives that she never saw. No childhood friends, no schoolmates, she had entered the Muggle world alone and that's how she had left it. It had been extremely easy to sever the ties, as there hadn't been any.
Now, she was back where she belonged, but also missing seven years of connections, of relationships, of advancement. Hermione tried not to torture herself with what could've been. Still, it was impossible not to think about. If she had been stronger and dealt with her guilt over his death then perhaps she could've been something. She might have married, perhaps Ron, but there was no chance for that now. He had moved on and she supposed she had too. She could still remember the painful conversation she'd had with him right before she had left to go to the University. Somewhere, even now, she had a box full of letters that he had sent her. The letters had stopped coming years ago.
It was for the best.
Hermione heard a knock at the door and sighed. With a groan she got up and stretched. Her muscles were tired of standing all day and wanted to go back to the luxury of lounging. She was debating upon skipping dinner in the Great Hall and holing herself up here alone for the rest of the night. Solitude was something that she was desperately craving. She walked to the door and opened it to find a most unexpected visitor. Severus Snape.
Hermione looked up at him and then down at the tray that he was carrying. There was a large teapot and then two empty tea cups sitting upon it.
"I come bearing gifts," he said dryly.
Hermione opened the door wider and then moved out of the way so that he could come inside. He walked in and then sat the tray on the long coffee table in front of the fireplace and then he made himself at home in one of her armchairs. Feeling as if she had no other option other than to join him, Hermione took a seat on the sofa. They were silent for a few moments. Hermione was wondering if there was a polite way to ask him to leave so that she could get a little nap before she had to come up with a more comprehensive syllabus for her class. She didn't like feeling so un-organized.
The decision to teach had been a rather impulsive one and she wanted to have a better strategy. Today had been an absolute disaster, although she comforted herself by acknowledging that it was the first day of school so she hadn't failed yet. She turned her thoughts back to Snape and why he was sitting in her sitting room.
"It is customary for a new Professor to be formerly greeted and welcomed by his or her former Head of House," he said as way of explanation.
"But I wasn't in Slytherin," Hermione pointed out. She still was still trying to find an appropriate way to excuse herself from this meeting, tradition or not.
"Thank you for allowing me to get to that," Snape said, and Hermione sensed a bit of annoyance. She actually enjoyed it. It was nice to be on the same level as him, equals for once. In essence she could say whatever she wanted with no fear of punishment. That thought was quite liberating.
"McGonagall would be here but for the fact that a group of Gryffindor, despicable lot, decided that they ought to attempt to blow up their Common Room." As he talked he poured the tea into the two cups and handed her one. Deciding that she wasn't going to be getting out of this little meeting easily, she took the cup.
The tea was delicious. It tasted the faintest bit of mint but there were also hints of fruits and other things that she couldn't identify. It was steaming hot and Hermione savored the way that it soothed her throat.
"There's an infusion of herbs that should help with your throat and head."
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Hermione as she finished the rest of the tea. It just seemed like a bad idea to admit any sort of weakness to him. Although it was making her throat feel better already.
"Hmm. How was your first day? I ask you this because I'm obligated to, not because I particularly want to know."
"It was lovely," she said before she could even think of something substantial to say. Lovely, yes that was a wonderful adjective to use. It was a complete and absolute lie of course. She had a feeling that he was already well aware of that. Hermione was trying to keep herself from feeling humiliated.
"It must be nice to have all of your students fawning all over you like you're a national hero. But you are aren't you? Hermione Granger, savior to the magical world. Do you know that there's a statue of you and your friends in the Ministry of Magic now?"
Hermione actually was not aware of that. The idea of there being a statue of her was quite daunting. She didn't want to be a hero, she never felt like one. She had done something abominable, she stood for something that wasn't good, something that wasn't admirable and here she was being admired by all. She was nothing but a cheat.
"I didn't know that, but thank you for pointing it out to me." Hermione suddenly felt tears spring to her eyes from out of nowhere. Why did he have to inspire these feelings from her? The rush of guilt, of shame, of all of the other emotions that still, seven years later, she couldn't let go of no matter how hard she tried. She wanted to let go, but she couldn't.
Severus looked over at her and felt bad for inciting such a negative reaction out of her. He wasn't completely sure what it was that made him treat her the way that he did. It was just an automatic reaction that he couldn't control. In all honesty he had pin pointed the reaction that had lately been the cause of the way he treated her.
It was bitterness, and if he was being honest, a little bit of jealousy.
He was bitter over the fact that she was a hero and that she had run away from it. He had spent over half of his life working to defeat Voldemort. Seventeen long years of a desolate life all for the greater good, to make up for his sins. Her and her friends had been herald as heroes. What recognition did he get?
Severus couldn't say that he had ever really expected great fame once Voldemort was defeated but he had always expected something. His whole life had been nothing but a countdown to that moment. That one glorious moment of Voldemort's death and his freedom. He had lived so long for that moment. After Voldemort's death he had always imagined that there would be a great sense of freedom. Instead he had felt nothing.
His life was exactly the same. Nothing had changed. He still holed himself up in the castle, teaching, being miserable, being the same person that he'd been for almost two decades and no one really noticed. What had his contribution mattered in comparison with what Granger and her friends had done? There would never be any statue for him.
She, on the other hand had every thing laid at her feet. She was famous, she and her friends had their own national day of recognition. Had she not have left to go play Muggle, she could've had nearly any position in the Ministry that she desired. Yet, she had thrown it all away like it meant nothing.
It would've meant everything to him.
Severus pushed those feelings aside and then looked over at her. She seemed to have composed herself and she no longer looked like she was on the verge of tears. He wondered if she was regretting the fact that she hadn't stayed, or maybe she was simply that touched by the statue. He didn't know. He couldn't even really bring himself to care.
Severus poured himself another cup of the tea and then slowly sipped it. He had at least another fifteen minutes to spend down here talking to her. Dumbledore wouldn't be satisfied with anything less. He had heard all about her first class, it had been the talk of the day. Professor Granger said this or explained that. It was worse among the younger students but they all had talked about her.
Nearly ten minutes had passed in absolute silence and he hoped that it would stay that way. Between the two of them they'd gone through two pots of tea, thankfully the pot automatically refilled itself when needed. It was just easy to sit there and pretend to be preoccupied with drinking.
"Why do you do it?" Came the question from out of nowhere. He looked at her wondering what she meant. Why did he do what?
"Why do you teach? You never seemed to like it. Never seemed to like us. As I understood it you were only teaching in the first place because Voldemort wanted you to. So why do you do it? Why stay."
Severus considered the question and the possible answers that could go with it. He could lie, and that was appealing, but what lie would she believe? Because secretly, deep down inside he loved it? It was his life's passion? He was sure that she wouldn't believe any of that.
"Simply because I have nothing better to do." With that he stood up and excused himself. He was done sharing for the day. He almost felt like he should be comforted by the fact that she was teaching as well. Obviously she hadn't lead a life of splendor. He and Dumbledore had talked briefly about her when he had insisted that he come and bring her tea. Dumbledore had walked with him from the Dungeons all the way to her room, Severus was sure just to make sure that he didn't shrug her off.
On the way to her room Dumbledore told him about how she had gone to a Muggle university and then dropped out and spent the rest of her time traveling aimlessly. Severus had to admit that he felt slightly vindicated for her lack of success. Weasley was probably the most popular Quidditch Player in the world and Potter had made it to the Head of the Auror Department when he was just twenty-one. They were all successful. Potter had a family, married Weasley's sister, and Weasley, well, he had no lack of women.
Yet here she was single, overwhelmed by her students, and with absolutely no idea what she was doing. At least he wasn't alone in that respect. He walked down to his Dungeons intent on grading his student's quizzes. All of the second to seventh years had been given a quiz on what they should remember from the previous years. He had to admit that he was looking forward to the snide comments he would get to give the majority of his students.
At least he had something to do.
Thanks for reading, please review. I'm sorry that you've had to wait so long for an update, I had writer's block, as far as this story was concerned, but I think I've found a good direction. Have a wonderful day and a fantastic weekend.