Chapter 1 ~ At the Hogshead Inn

Hermione Granger sat in the back of the Hogsheads Inn, a bottle of Firewhisky and a shot glass on the table before her. Her brown eyes were slightly glazed as she sat there in silence. The tables around her were empty except for one, where a bald, stoic-faced and rather built wizard sat. He was dressed in a black t-shirt with a skull on the front, a black leather vest, black jeans and heavy black boots. His blue eyes shifted back and forth warily.

It was Friday night, and the Hogshead was filled with witches, wizards and smoke as they drank and chatted. Food was available, but no one in their right mind ate here. In fact, they brought their own glasses to drink out of. The owner, Aberforth Dumbledore wasn't the most sanitary cook or barkeep. And you never knew exactly what kind of meat was set down before you, smothered in peas, carrots and gravy.

Hermione sat alone as she did every time she came here. She paid good money to sit alone. Ever since the tabloid, the Wizarding Sun had exposed Ronald Weasley's ongoing affair with Lavender Brown, with a photo of them sneaking out of a ratty Knockturn Alley motel on the front page, both looking like deer in the Muggle headlights, Hermione had shunned the limelight and spent a lot of time drowning her sorrows.

There was no way she was going back to him. She was temporarily arrested for Crucioing her ex-boyfriend when he came to her flat, begging her for another chance. He was followed by paparazzi and they caught the whole thing on camera. She paid through the nose to stay out of Azkaban for her use of the Unforgivable and Ron had a Non-Molestation order taken out against her, not that Hermione wanted to go anywhere near him. If she did, she'd do more than "molest" him, the idiot.

Hermione was on the outs with Harry, too, because Harry had known about the affair and covered for Ron. He didn't like it, but felt it wasn't his place to say anything to Hermione. Of course, this got out as well when Lavender Brown gave her exclusive interview to the Wizarding Sun for a hefty amount of Galleons. She was now working on a book entitled:

Loving Lavender: A Hero's Mistress Tells All.

The pre-orders were already through the roof.

Hermione sat fingering her drink, hardly looking up at the people enjoying themselves all around her. A little fight broke out, two wizards drunkenly trying to blast each other but failing to get a decent bead. A stunner flew by Hermione's head, but she hardly blinked as Aberforth blasted the both of them into unconsciousness, then tossed them out on their heads using the Levicorpus spell.

"No fighting in here unless there's wagers on it!" the innkeeper shouted after them, shaking his fist then closing the door with a slam. "Bloody wankers."

Severus Snape sat watching Hermione thoughtfully as he nursed a small Firewhisky. He came here quite often. Finishing his drink, the wizard rose and glided toward her table. He was suddenly blocked by the bald wizard.

"No one bothers Miss Granger," he growled at the sallow, black-eyed wizard before him.

"Indeed?" Snape purred, one side of his mouth curling.

"Ah, Hugo? I really don't think you want to do that," Hermione said softly. She had heard the familiar purr and looked up to see the confrontation. "Just worry about the paparazzi. Professor Snape can join me if he likes."

Her bodyguard Hugo appeared reluctant to move. There was challenge in Snape's eyes, and Hugo hated to be challenged and have nothing come of it. This character was skinny as a broomstick and his nose was so huge, it would be easy to break. Besides, he looked completely unsavory with his lank hair and sallow skin. And those robes? Where the hell had he got them? There seemed to be at least one hundred buttons on them, and the collar was so high, it had to be uncomfortable. He looked like some kind of deviant. He was an evil wizard to be sure.

"Excuse me," Snape said dryly, shouldering by him. Hugo turned crimson at the slight. Snape sat down at the table and Hermione slid the bottle toward him.

"Join me," she said softly, a little slur in her voice.

Like everyone else, Snape kept his glass with him. He set it on the table and poured a small shot of the Firewhisky. He watched as Hermione took the bottle back, poured herself a generous amount in her own glass, then knocked it back completely. She let out a little rasp. That was all.

Hugo sat back down, his blue eyes focused on Snape now, hoping he'd do or say something untoward.

"So, losing Weasley has turned you into an unsociable lush," Snape said to her softly.

Hugo bristled and started to rise.

"Sit down, Hugo," Hermione ordered, not even looking at him. Hugo sat back down.

"Fuck you," she responded to Snape's statement easily, her brown eyes resting on her empty glass.

Snape's eyes glittered.

"You say that with quite a bit of conviction, Hermione," he replied, and she looked up at him. "Is that an invitation?"

Hugo once again started to rise. Snape tensed and said to Hermione," I suggest you put your guard dog on a short leash, or I'll be forced to neuter and muzzle him. I don't like being menaced."

Hermione frowned at Hugo, who couldn't understand why she was letting this ugly bloke talk to her the way he was. Hugo was an American wizard who recently arrived in Britain, and didn't know who Snape was. If he kept at it, he was going to get a crash course. The emphasis on "crash."

"Hugo, take a break," she said to him.

Frowning slightly, Hugo rose and walked to the bar. He sat down on a stool, but was still turned toward the couple at the table, his face in a scowl.

"Now, are you mad? No, that wasn't an invitation. It was my way of telling you I don't care how you see me," Hermione said to Snape. "I'm not a student looking for your approval anymore. You can sod off like everyone else."

Snape cast a Muffliato spell around them. The conversation was probably going to get quite interesting from here on out.

"Is that bitterness I detect? Oh my," Snape responded. "How does it taste?"

Hermione scowled at him.

"Why did you come over here?" she demanded. "Just to kick a witch when she's down? That figures. I thought you might be decent company. I should have known better. You can leave now."

"I could," Snape replied, "but I won't. I want to talk to you. I've sat here for nearly five months watching you pickle yourself with liquor. You've lost your fire and I'm here to keep it from going completely out."

Hermione gave a mean chuckle.

"Oh, so you're here to save me from myself?" she asked him witheringly.

Snape arched an eyebrow at her.

"If memory serves me correctly, I had that very same job years ago," he said softly. "It was a trial then, too."

"You were protecting Harry," Hermione sniffed.

"I was protecting all of you," Snape snapped back at her. "And I carry the scars to prove it, you ungrateful little tart."

"And that means what? That I owe you?" Hermione hissed back at him. "Owe you for what? This life that I was saved for?"

"You owe yourself, you silly woman. You are far too gifted to spend your time pining over a wizard not suited to licking your trainers!"

"You don't understand. I loved Ron, and he betrayed me—with Lavender Brown," she said softly, picking up the bottle of Firewhisky again. "With her. I think I could have taken anyone other than her—"

Snape's hand shot out and caught Hermione's wrist, stopping her from pouring another drink.

"You think I don't know how it is to lose someone you love—to someone you hate?" he hissed at her.

Hugo saw Snape grab Hermione's wrist and leapt off of the stool. This was what he was waiting for. He drew his wand and Snape's head turned toward him, his hand a blur as he whipped out his own wand, not releasing Hermione. The bottle of Firewhisky fell to the floor and broke.

"Expellarimus!" he hissed, blasting Hugo backwards. His bulk landed on a table surrounded by startled patrons, and it broke. Snape quickly removed the Mufflatio spell and tightened his grip on Hermione.

"You're paying for that!" Aberforth cried, running around from behind the bar and skidding to a halt when he saw Snape stand up, dragging Hermione with him. Snape fixed him with a dark stare. The barkeep blanched, then turned to the unconscious Hugo and shook one gnarled finger at him.

"You're paying for that!" he declared.

"What are you doing?" Hermione cried, struggling as Snape pulled her through the inn, the patrons parting and not one attempting to help Hermione. Then again, witches were forcibly pulled out of the inn by irate husbands and boyfriends all the time. It was just that kind of place.

"Abducting you," Snape hissed.

Hermione felt her robes pocket desperately.

"Don't bother. I've already taken your wand when I first sat down. You should always make sure it's well inserted," the dark wizard informed her, pulling her through the door and Disapparating with her.

A/N: Okay. I have to admit I have NO idea where this is going, but this morning I woke up with this scene in my head of Hermione sitting in the inn, sad-faced and getting blasted by herself. So I wrote the first paragraph and just let it flow. We'll have to just see where it goes. But being abducted by Snape is always interesting, especially after that "Is that an invitation" comment.. I know Hugo is the canon name for Hermione's son, but I always think of a Hugo as being some big, not too smart guy. Usually, he sounds like Arnold whathisname. Lol. I spared y'all that, though. Thanks for reading.