Disclaimer - Not mine. Never has been, never will be.
A/N- No excuses, just life getting in the way. Enjoy!
At the age of six, she had been at the nearby playground with her mum and dad enjoying the beautiful spring weather. They had told her to keep close and within sight. But like all children, she had heeded the warning for a brief time before curiosity got the better of her and she went exploring near the parking lot. It had taken less than a minute before two men snatched her up and threw her into a car, taking her away from the park and her parents. The men had shut her mouth with tape to keep her from shouting for help. Being as curious as she was for her age, she knew what those men were capable of doing to her and it scared her to her very core.
That had been the first time she had ever performed accidental magic. As she sat on the floor of the backseat of the car crying, she had imagined herself being back home with her parents.
It had been then when she had thought hard about her parents that she felt a strange pull at her navel and after feeling like a giant had tried to squash her flat, she opened her eyes to see the astonished looks on her parents faces. As soon as they had realized she had gone missing they searched the park but couldn't find her. Thinking that she had simply become bored with being at the park and gone home, they had rushed back hoping to find their little girl safe and sound. Instead they had found an empty house and had immediately called the authorities to report a missing child.
The police had arrived, questioned the Grangers and then left. It had been only minutes after they had left that their lost child had popped magically into the middle of their living room.
That incident had helped her years later when Apparition had been taught at Hogwarts and later on during the war. Since she had learned how to control her magic and where she was going, Hermione never had any trouble Apparating and Disapparating to where she wanted.
Until this day. The shock of seeing Snape in her room was so much that all she could do was stare at him in horror and scream in such a way she had never thought possible.
"Oh my God! What the fuck is wrong with you?! What are you doing in my room?" She didn't even bother to stop and think about the fact that she had indeed just cursed at the most feared teacher of all of Hogwarts history. All that mattered to her at the moment was that she was naked and he was in the same room as her.
"Your room?! Kreacher said this was the empty guest room!"
"DOES IT LOOK EMPTY TO YOU?"
"STOP SCREAMING! AND WOULD IT KILL YOU TO PUT SOME KNICKERS ON?"
Looking down at herself she realized that she was still just using her arms to cover herself and her towel was pooled around her feet. Picking it up as quickly as humanly possible and wrapping it around herself she pointed at the door and said, "GET OUT!"
She should have thrown something at his head. Who cares if he was Severus Snape, ex-Death Eater turn spy, he had no right to be in her room spying on her.
He was going to kill that senile old elf. Hang him from his fingernails over a boiling cauldron with oil or tar. Just something that would cause a great deal of pain. Or perhaps, he could hang the elf from his big ugly ears until they ripped off.
There just didn't seem to be a suitable punishment that would bring the elf the sort of pain that Severus wanted him to suffer. He had never felt as embarrassed in his entire life as he did at that moment. Not even when James Potter attacked him during his fifth year did he feel as much embarrassment.
Hermione - yes, he was calling her Hermione now because there was just no way that he could possibly call her Miss Granger – wasprobably thinking that he was nothing but a perverted old man! His behaviour the previous night could be blamed on the fact that he had been shot with a cupid's arrow. But what had just occurred could not be explained in any way. Severus knew it was going to be impossible to convince her that it had been Kreacher's fault.
He barged into the kitchen so fast that the impact of the door against the wall caused many of the mugs hanging over the sink to rattle dangerously. Angry eyes searched the room for the old elf, but as he did not see him anywhere, Severus assumed that Kreacher knew he was in trouble and was simply trying to hide from his wrath. He would have a hard time trying to find the elf within the manor. There were plenty of places that Kreacher could use to hide.
Just as he was about to leave the room, Kreacher calmly made his way out from the pantry room, holding two boxes of cereal and looking mighty pleased about something. As he slowly placed the boxes on the table, Kreacher pretended to finally take note of the very angry Severus standing near the doorway.
"Did Master of Potions find what he was looking for?"
The audacity of the elf! Forget hanging him from his ears over a boiling cauldron! He should just grab the old elf by the neck and strangle him to death.
"You knew, didn't you?" Severus said through gritted teeth. His whole body was shaking in anger; he could feel his fingernails digging into his palms as he clenched his hands into fist to avoid reaching for his wand. It was taking all of his self-control not to blast the elf through the wall.
"Kreacher is not understanding, Master of Potions."
Just breathe, Severus. Hermione won't like it if you kill the damn thing.
"You knew that that room belonged to Hermione, didn't you?"
Pretending to look confused and failing horribly at it, Kreacher says, "Yes, Kreacher is knowing this."
Ha! So it was a set-up!
"Which is why Kreacher is telling Master of Potions that his belongings were on the third floor, of the last room farthest from the stairs." After a small pause, the elf asks, "Did Master of Potions get lost?"
I'm about to go to Azkaban for killing Harry Potter's elf.
"No," Severus said through clenched teeth, "I did not get lost. You told me to go to the first floor, last room near the stairs. Not to the third floor, last room away from the stairs. You knew Miss Granger was in that room and you're just trying to get her to kill me!"
"Kreacher did no such thing!" The scared frantic look in Kreacher's eyes was almost comical as Severus slowly advanced on him, cornering the elf between the stove and himself.
"Yes, yes you did!"
With a frantic shake of his head, Kreacher shouted, "No! No!"
"I'm going to give you until the count of three to admit that you tricked me before I cut you into potion pieces." Severus warned as he stood firmly in front of Kreacher, ready to catch him in case the house-elf tried to make an escape. "One! Two!Three!"
Even with his lightning quick reflexes, as soon as Severus drew his wand out, Keacher had popped out of the room and probably out of the house as well.
Quietly cursing to himself, Severus almost missed the sound of footsteps rushing down the stairs and towards the kitchen. "What in the name of Merlin is all that screaming?!"
Hearing Hermione approachthe door, he quickly made a grab for the cereal boxes and pretended to be setting them on the table. When Hermione entered the room, he avoided making eye contact and began to search for milk and plates. He needed to keep his hands occupied. He was still too embarrassed to even look at her.
"I asked a question," she said. Her voice so cold he could practically feel a chill in the air.
Now Severus was a man who feared little. He hadn't feared becoming a spy. He hadn't feared going against Tom Riddle. But the anger he could feel practically radiating from Hermione at the moment made him slightly shake in fear of what she could do to him. He was no fool. He knew she was a powerful woman. She was, after all, the only second year to brew a perfect batch of Polyjuice Potion. She had gone up against Death Eaters numerous times and come out on top. Not to mention that he had been there when during her sixth year she had sent a flock of birds to attack the Weasley boy. He wasn't about to ignore her question.
"I was asking Kreacher where the cereal was."
Just because he wasn't going to ignore her question didn't mean that he was going to tell her the truth. He held his breath as he saw her narrow her eyes in suspicion before walking up to him and snatching the milk from his hand.
"A simple 'Accio' would have sufficed," she said in a cold voice. "There's no need to shout at poor Kreacher. He has feelings as well, you know!"
Sure, feelings of a suicidal elf.
It took all of his will to keep from sneering at that. A reminder that he loved all his body parts just as and where they werewas enough to help him from doing so.
She didn't say anything else as she filled her plate with cereal and left the kitchen, making sure that she slammed the door as hard as possible as she closed it behind her. Obviously a sign for him, and that was that she wanted him gone as soon as possible.
He didn't want to leave. He wanted to explain to her, to have Kreacher explain what happened. Of course that wasn't going to happen, because since when does the universe like Severus Snape?
Heaving a sigh of frustration, Severus decided it was best to do what Hermione had "asked" of him, and leave. He would make things right with her though, if it was the last thing he did.
Hermione heard the front door slam shut and was thankful that Snape had taken the hint and left. Her nerves couldn't deal with having that man in the house any longer. Who would have thought he was a pervert!
You know that's not true.
She tried to ignore that voice as she continue to eat her cereal. She knew he had been harassing poor Kreacher. As if the old elf would do such a thing.
Kreacher. This is the same Kreacher we're talking about, right? The one who betrayed Sirius? The one who used to call you foul names.
She didn't want to think that perhaps he had been tricked. It still didn't give him the right to be barging into her room, especially while she was naked. Though how he was supposed to know she was going to be naked was a mystery to her. Perhaps she had flown off the handle, but anyone in her position would have done the same. He should haveconsidered himself lucky that she didn't have her wand on her or else she probably would have blasted him through the wall.
There was nothing she could do now anyhow. They would both forget about it and go on with their lives, hers just as miserable as before, if not more, and his probably slightly better since he got a show out of it. Why did the universe hate her? Her only consolation was that she had at least remembered to shave her legs. She very much doubted though that he had noticed.
Two days later…
I wish to properly apologize for being a peeping Tom. Please allow me to treat you to dinner this Wednesday night. I promise to keep my eyes on your face and that we will not be attacked by a mob of ugly angry cupids.
It was Tuesday, and she had yet to reply to his letter. Knowing him he was probably running a trench through his floor waiting for her response. She just didn't know what to do. Should she accept the apology? Was he being sincere? Since it was Severus Snape, she knew that he wouldn't dare be anything but a gentleman, despite what had occurred earlier in the week. He didn't apologize to just anyone. Yet, there was a small part of her, the scared thirteen-year-old in her that was afraid he was just going to ridicule her.
Re-reading the letter, she thought about the last line. It really wouldn't be the first time she would have dinner with him if she accepted. Their impromptu Valentine's dinner had actually been quite enjoyable. They had talked about many things; the latest potions, the Charms Mistress that almost blew herself to bit trying to make a telly usable in the magical world, and various books the two of them had read in the past or were currently reading. She hadn't had a conversation like that with anyone in... well, probably not since she last saw Remus. Even at St. Mungo's people were overwhelmed by her love to learn. Though no one dared to say anything mean to her outright, she knew that there were few that cared for her and her enthusiasm.
What did she have to lose anyhow? Nothing really, if she thought about it. If at any point she decided she had enough, she could thank him for the meal and leave. She would get a free meal out of it, Kreacher would finally get his wish of getting her out of the house, and Snape would be able to say what he wanted though she doubted she would accept his apology.
Making up her mind finally, she penned back a reply and sent it off with her owl, Toff.
Now the big question was, what the hell was she going to wear?
He felt like an awkward seventeen-year-old. The feeling of nervousness was something he couldn't explain. He didn't know why he was nervous… Well, actually, he did. His brain had gone into overdrive when Hermione had finally sent her reply. Her acceptance to his dinner invite had actually surprised him. Severus had honestly thought that she would have thrown the letter into the fire as soon as she saw who had sent it. Yet, she hadn't done so and she had decided to give him a second chance. But his treacherous mind kept telling him that it was all just in jest. That she would stand him up, shout to the whole world that he was an old pervert, or even right out laugh in his face when he apologized to her.
Of course he didn't know what she would do. Yes, as a spy he had learned much about her, but just the normal facts. Nothing about who she really was. He was beginning to find out that even though she appeared strong to everyone, she was still just as vulnerable as anyone else. Words still hurt her, as did actions. And for some reason, he had the urge to make it all better for her. He didn't know what was going on her life. Why she was living at Grimmauld instead of with her parents. Or why she and the Weasley boy had broken up. Hopefully, during this dinner, he would get those answers; though not before apologizing to her first and trying to explain things to her. He would show her his memories if that's what it took for her to believe him.
Standing outside the restaurant in Muggle London, Severus checked his watch. She wasn't late, but it was getting closer to the time that they had arranged to meet.
"How is it that you know all these Muggle restaurants?" asked a voice behind him.
Turning around, he saw Hermione. Her head was held high, but he could still see a bit of insecurity in those soft brown eyes.
"After the war, I found that Rita gets easily lost in the Muggle world," he replied as a form of greeting. "Muggle restaurants are, for some reason, a foreign concept to her. Plus, it helps that the people know me now and keep away unwanted people from their premises."
He saw her smile slightly at his clever way of getting rid of Rita. Severus knew that Hermione held no love for the tacky reporter. It was something he planned to bring up as a way to keep conversation going.
"Well," she said taking a deep breath of the chilly February weather, "what now?"
"In most cultures," Severus said, "it is the norm that when two people meet to share a meal together, they go into the establishment to do so. I highly doubt that you would want to eat your food out here in the freezing cold."
Another small smile, score two for Severus. She was trying to hide them, he knew, but often times, his sarcastic wit was one of his most admirable traits. Or so Narcissa would often tell him. It seemed toworked on Hermione.
Holding out his arm for her to take, he turned to lead them inside the restaurant but had to stop short due to another couple that were making their way out. Maneuvering themselves aside, they allowed the couple to pass. That's when it all went to hell.