Because we love Hermione's mum, this one is from Dr. Granger's point of view. Yay! This one isn't quite the understanding of the character as is seen in Firebolt Ring, but you can't win them all.
Here, tis, the follow up from the 14 drabbles. Is there more? Of course.
Title: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
Author: Sare Liz
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Continuity: continues after the set of drabbles entitled 'Dirty Day'. Is Canon until July 21, 2007, after which it is anyone's guess.
Inspiration: We're still being inspired by U2 at this point. I know, you're all just shocked.
"Mum," she said, standing in the foyer of the casual restaurant in Central London, "This is Severus."
"I'm very pleased to see you again. We met very briefly at Hermione's graduation, I believe." She extended her hand and was somewhat taken aback to have it gently taken, bowed over, and kissed. She kept her smirk to herself. It seemed that the good professor was trying to make up for lost time and previous impressions.
"The pleasure is all mine, Dr. Granger."
Before anything further could be said, the three were seated by the hostess, and Dr. Jane Granger was left to ponder the loveliness of his voice. The voice of her daughter's latest boyfriend. Could you call a forty year old man a 'boyfriend'?
Both he and Hermione were 'under the radar' as her daughter put it – they both dressed in a business-casual muggle way. She'd been waiting outside of the restaurant and Jane had watched them approach. They'd been holding hands. He'd been saying something, and Hermione was laughing. It was really quite sweet. And they made quite a striking couple.
"I would have you call me Jane, Severus," she said casually as she perused her menu before quickly selecting her choice. He acknowledged her with a slight inclination of his head, and a murmured word of thanks. He really was quite old fashioned and formal, she thought. Or perhaps that was just a pure-blood wizarding trait. She continued on. "Now, Hermione has told me something of your distinguished and dangerous war service, and I have been, of course, apprized all along concerning your classroom demeanor, but would you tell me something of yourself?"
"Ah. So you know that I am a terror in the classroom and a forgotten hero of the war?" he asked, a small smile on his face.
Jane saw Hermione look anxiously back and forth between them, but she kept her own gaze on her conversation partner. "Yes."
"Well, I am not a pureblood – one of my grandparents was a muggle. All of my close relations are deceased. My life has been a difficult one, up until very recently. In order to maintain my own sanity I threw myself into my work – for the Order, for my classes, and for my potions."
At this, Hermione interrupted, putting down her glass of water. "Severus has been credited with the creation of eighty-seven new potions, and with the alteration and fine tuning of two hundred and thirty-three. That's more than a life's work for most people."
He wasn't blushing, but he certainly looked abashed, glancing down and over at her daughter. He reached over and squeezed her hand as it rested on the table before releasing it, gathering himself back together again and continuing on.
"With the end of the war and the death of Voldemort I have been allowed a measure of freedom in my activities that I had never before known. I have been able to mend and create anew a number of relationships in my life that matter very much to me, true relationships being the foremost thing I denied myself in my work for the Order."
"And this is when you offered Hermione an internship?"
He nodded. "Hermione was by far the best student I'd ever had, the brightest and sharpest witch I'd ever come across before or since in my twenty years of teaching. I knew she was reading for Potions and Arithmancy at the Royal Academie. Internships are hard to come by, and Potions is still a subject dominated by wizards. I suppose you could say that it was my attempt at an apology for having to be such arse to my best student."
Jane was flushed with a deep maternal pride, and was almost overcome by it, except for the phrase that kept ringing in her ears; 'twenty years of teaching.'
"I'm sorry, did you say twenty years?"
"Yes. This year makes twenty-one." He paused and reached out for Hermione's hand, holding on top of the table. As the waitress came and delivered their drinks and took their order, the pause lasted even longer.
"I took the Dark Mark when I was eighteen," he said, now speaking both to Jane and Hermione. "Shortly before I turned nineteen I thought better of my decision and sought refuge with Albus Dumbledore. I joined the Order and taught my first year of Potions when I was nineteen. Albus brought in tutors for my study, which was quick, and I soon became a Master of Potions."
"That is a lot to have happened to someone so young."
"Indeed. And, being young and somewhat full of myself, many of my more important decisions were foolishly made."
After a short silence, Jane asked the question she almost dared not. "Would you permit me to see the tattoo?"
"Of course." To his credit, he barely paused. Jane would have to find out later from Hermione how much it cost him to show her this. She imagined it cost quite a bit, but she did not take it lightly.
He rose from the table and removed his suit jacket, hanging it on the back of his chair and sitting back down again. He slowly unbuttoned his left cuff, then turned his wrist back down, palm facing the table. He slowly rolled the sleeve, once, twice, three times then pushed the cuff the remaining inches up past his elbow as he gently twisted his wrist, revealing the tender inside of his forearm and the faint greenish-black tattoo that took up most of it. It was upside down, from her perspective – clearly the tattoo was placed so that the owner could see it clearly. It was a long frightening looking skull with a snake issuing from its open mouth.
"When activated," he said quietly, "it became a more pronounced black. The snake would writhe, forming the infinity symbol, and quite an intense pain would begin, localized in the mark itself. It acted as something like a living portkey. When activated, anyone with the mark was able to Apparate directly to wherever he was."
Jane held the silence gently. After a moment she looked up at him. "Thank you for allowing me to see it."
He nodded, and covered his mark, buttoning his cuff. Jane noticed that after that, and until the food arrived, Severus and Hermione held hands under the table.
There was some silence then, and Jane could tell that Hermione didn't like it, as she rushed to fill it.
"I'd told Mum already how we, you know, started dating. And that you knew your mind far before I did." Hermione grinned and was at least momentarily unaware of just how uncomfortable she'd just made him, Jane could tell.
Severus was quick to add, "But not that far before you," and then he turned to Jane. "I hope you will not think me capable of any impropriety toward you daughter."
Jane smiled. "No, I don't think that in the least."
His relief was almost palpable, and then the food came.
Jane had her fork full of salad, but held it steady over her plate, really, until just the point that Severus had his mouth full. "But now you mention it, Severus, what are your intentions toward Hermione?"
"Mum!" Hermione cried softly, absolutely scandalized. "You've never asked that of any of my other boyfriends!"
Severus had frozen, but Jane ignored him just for the moment.
"Hermione, dear, there are two very important differences between Severus and all of the other gentlemen that you have dated. First of all, of all the young men you've brought home, none have suited you so well as he does. Secondly, Severus is not in his twenties, trying to figure out what he wants in life, he's forty and I'd be willing to bet he knows exactly what he wants out of life. I haven't asked your previous boyfriends because I hadn't expected them to know the answer. I ask Severus, because I suspect he does know. The larger issue, Hermione," she said, now turning her attention directly to the man in front of her, who she now addressed, "Is whether or not you wish to share your answer."
Her gaze was gentle but insistent as she watched him force down the mouthful of food, and chase it with a drink of the strong black coffee that had been delivered just before their lunch.
"Hermione and I have yet to discuss the future. I know that her education is important to her, as is her future career. It is important to me as well." He paused and fingered his coffee cup. "I had never had the opportunity to dream that I might find a companion to grow old with, or build a family." He looked up in complete candor to meet her eyes. "I never actually thought I'd be growing old, for one thing. I fully intended to die, or spend my remaining years imprisoned. As that seems not to be my destiny, I want as much as I can get: a wife, a family, success in my field, true happiness, and a house in the country. And yet, I am patient. Wizards – and witches – live to significant ages. It is likely, even considering the past I have had, that I will live to see 150 years of age. If Hermione and I decide that it is with each other that we wish to spend the rest of our days, I do not think I could be happier."
"Really?" was Hermione's softly spoken response.
He turned to her. "Really," he responded, just as softly, and was thusly the recipient of a very soft kiss.
Jane smiled and finally took her bite of salad. This one might be a handful, but she approved.