Disclaimer: I don't make any money off of this story. Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling.

Story Related A/N: I hope the plot of this chapter isn't too random or out of the ordinary. I DO have a purpose for the events in this chapter that will play a part in Chapter 20.

The Distance Between Us

By ktfranceebee

Chapter 19


Hermione couldn't help breathing a respite sigh as she leaned heavily against the Fat Lady's canvas after she shut the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room behind her.

"Huh! I cahnt breef!" A muffled voice shouted behind her. Hermione backed away from the portrait, looking at the Fat Lady oddly.

"You're a portrait. You can't breathe anyway." The Fat Lady looked offended as she rearranged the train of her dress in agitation.

"Hmph," She snorted, rather unladylike. "Well, thank you for being so tact about it." She replied tartly, spinning around with her nose upturned

Hermione rolled her eyes at the prima donna of a portrait before turning to march away.

As the dusty orange hue of dusk leaked through the windows, Hermione knew that after a day as trying as this one, all she should do is try to go to sleep earlier, or at the very least, go down to dinner to get something in her stomach; especially considering that, after four hours, she barely managed to escape Harry.

Since she returned to Hogwarts earlier that day, Hermione had been desperate to remove herself from his presence, as his constant coddling and questioning was becoming too much. She loved Harry like a brother, but she didn't need someone regularly asking her whether she was alright (he of all people should know the answer to that). What Hermione needed now was peace and quiet, or at least a quiet companion; and she knew just the place to find that person. So, with a motive in mind, she began her descent to the third floor corridor.

Severus sat idly at his piano, his fingertips lightly ghosting over the contrasting keys. He came up to the room to play, but had yet to make any music in the two hours that he had isolated himself in there. Instead, he alternated between sitting at the piano, to pacing about the room and as well as sitting down on his comfortable couch and letting his eyes roam over the lines of words in his collection of books, trying to make at least a halfhearted attempt at trying to digest its contents. A few times during his pacing, he wandered to his liquor cabinet, fingering the handles to the doors almost lovingly, before turning sharply away in a huff.

What had come over him…? He thought to himself as he traced the rim of the glass holding the heady amber liquid, having finally conceded defeat and pouring himself a glass or three of Firewhiskey. He felt perfectly fine when the Potter Man née Boy showed up. Albeit beforehand, he was rather perplexed as he contemplated the spontaneity as Miss Granger latched herself around his own torso earlier that morning. But it wasn't until Hermione was enveloped in the arms of the Boy Wonder that he felt a sudden burn in the back of his throat that used to only be able to associate with two things: The tantalizing liquor that he was currently partaking, and Lily and James Potter (collectively, mind you).

So, Severus now sat at the piano as he twirled the amber liquid in the glass with one hand, while indolently pressing middle C with the other before hearing a timid knock on the door.

Severus groaned deeply and said 'Enter' fully aware of who would be on the other side. He heard the gentle shuffling of feet from where he sat as the person made their way into his room.

"Hello." Severus was turned around, his piano back in its original position, facing away from the person who greeted him.

"Miss Granger," Severus replied, acknowledging her by turning his head just so. Hermione moved further towards where he sat in order to better address him, but still far enough away as to not crowd her temperamental professor.

"I wanted to thank you again, for… Well, you know… Everything," She said looking down and pausing to collect her thoughts as she brushed a strand of hair away from her face. "I would have sought you earlier, but Harry sure can—" Severus made a scoffing noise at the mention of her friend's name and Hermione frowned.

"Have… Have you been drinking?" She asked incredulously. She picked up the tumbler that he had set on top of the instrument and sniffed it. Her appalled face that followed her actions caused Severus' eyes to narrow in annoyance.

"Well, it isn't pumpkin juice, Miss Granger." Severus spat.

Hermione turned around, spying the liquor cabinet that was still ajar and stalked over towards it.

"You're unbelievable," She said contemptuously as she picked up the bottle of Firewhiskey. Severus began to stand, his eyes flashing dangerously at the notion of a student rummaging through his personal belongings, but sat back down as he began to sway slightly once he was upright.

"Was this full before I got here?" Severus only exhaled dramatically through his nose as she slightly shook the half empty bottle by its neck. "Well?" She demanded. Severus bit the inside of his cheek.

"Have you any idea how insensitive you are?" Hermione hissed in a severely low voice. "I would have thought that after the war you would have pulled yourself together, maybe find something that could make you happy, Severus…" Snape's eyes connected with hers as she said his given name for the first time. "But obviously I was wrong." She set the bottle back down with a thud before slamming the door shut with a flick of her hand.

"What is it that you're so upset about, hmmm?" She crossed her arms as she slowly started making her way back towards him. "Because whatever it is…" She trailed off swallowing the lump that was forming in her throat.

"I went to a funeral today, Severus," Hermione said. At first Severus was surprised, if not offended, that she addressed him, her own professor, not once but twice by his first name, but it was effective. It made him look at her—actually look at her—as the adult that she had become over the years. She was still a student, but she was eighteen, legally an adult, and had more sense than people twice her age; obviously more sense than him. He snapped out of his own thoughts soon enough to listen to her blunt statement.

"I watched as my father was buried." Severus watched guiltily as angry tears began to stream down her ruddy cheeks. She continued, "I wish it was that easy… That I could just lock myself away and pick up a bottle and drown my—" She hiccupped, "My fears, and my troubles and doubts. But I know better than that, and I would have thought that you would know better than that, as well—known that that solution is only temporary."

She sniffed as she watched Professor Snape sitting stiffly, unmoving on the edge of the piano bench. Even his eyes were motionless in their sockets as he stared down at his hands gripping either on his knees. Hermione swiped her tears away with the palms of her hands and she gave Professor Snape a teary eyed, almost pitying smile that she hoped he would see out of the corner of his eyes.

"I'm tired and I want to sleep now. So I'm going to leave." She walked to the door before turning around and speaking to him in her most authoritarian voice. "Hopefully you are not intoxicated enough to forget everything that I just said by tomorrow morning. I do hope, however, that you wake up with a headache agonizing enough that you will regret your actions today when you realize that you are out of Hangover Cure, last I checked; that is unless you have some in your private stores." She tilted her head to the side. "And if that is the case, I hope you're not idiotic enough to take it." She placed her hand on the door handle, ready to leave before pausing once more.

"By the way, Professor, you still owe me a song," She reminded him softly. And with that, she walked out the door shutting it soundlessly behind her.

Severus would have much preferred her to have slammed the door shut but the fact that she didn't led him to believe that she wasn't mad at him, only disappointed. He would have preferred the former.

Severus stood and carefully walked towards the other side of the room, and he closed his eyes slowly; his eyes which were now level to the cabinet where Hermione just stood.

He pulled the doors open, grimacing at the drinks inside: His Ogden's Old Firewhiskey, mulled mead, and an unopened bottle of elf-made wine. Without thinking, Severus pulled out his wand and pointed it at each of the bottles in succession, quietly saying Evanesco each time. He was about to store his wand back into his robe when he saw a vial of murky purple liquid laying innocuously behind where the alcoholic beverages used to be. He smirked, picking it up and vanishing it as he did the others.

Severus wasn't worried about the horrendous headache he would be graced with tomorrow, or the fact that he just vanished his last vial of Hangover Cure, he could only think of how he would thank Hermione tomorrow for her impressive dialogue. Still too inebriated to bother to care why he was suddenly concerned about being in Hermione's good graces, he toed off his shoes, collapsing on the couch just as the last ray of sun disappeared behind the surrounding mountains, already knowing how he would make it up to her tomorrow.

What is this? An update? How on earth...

Hey everyone! Sorry for the super long hiatus. I can explain.

If anyone here has seen the incredible Harry Potter Musical, you will know the name Darren Criss. Me, being the Darren Criss fan girl that I am heard that he was going to be on the show Glee. I've never watched Glee, only hearing superb things about it from a friend of mine so I decided to watch it...

And that's where I've been these 56 days. Addicted... to Glee... Watching it like a crazy person whilst joining into the awesomeness that is show choir as well as reading and writing Glee Fanfiction :D

So if you are a Glee/Kurt/Dave fan, PLEASE check out my newest story, "Ever the Same." I think you will enjoy it. Anyways...

The title of this chapter, Sundown, is a piano piece by the wonderful Jim Brickman.

As always, I will say "Please Review!" and "My Apologies" for the long wait. ;)