Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be, all hail the great JKR who owns it all and graciously doesn't sue us for playing with it.

Summary: Snape and Hermione's first date, a foray into Muggle London. Short sequel to "Rebound."

Rating: PG-13

First Date

by Auror Borealis

The black-haired man stood on the front porch, waiting for someone to answer the bell he had just rung. He hoped it worked like he'd been told it would; he hadn't heard it sound within the house. A few more moments, he thought, and I'll just knock…

The door opened. A man, shorter than the one on the porch, stood there, his face trying to look welcoming. He stood to one side, gesturing the visitor to enter.

"Well, well…" He cleared his throat. "Well. So you're here."

Severus Snape bit back a retort, choosing to nod politely instead. This wasn't one of his students, to be verbally excoriated for such an inane utterance. This was someone he wanted to impress. Telling the man not to be an idiot wouldn't accomplish that, he was certain. He walked inside and found himself in a small foyer. His host led the way deeper into the small but comfortable house, into a cozy living room.

"Have a seat, Professor. Can I get you anything?"

"No, I thank you, Dr. Granger." He sat on the sofa, taking in his surroundings with interest. A telephone sat on a table next to him. He resisted the urge to pick it up and examine it. A sleek black box with a dark gray screen took up all of one shelf in a polished wooden cabinet. A television, or a computer? he wondered. A short woman with curly brown hair entered the room. She appeared to be in her early fifties, about the same age as her husband. Severus rose to greet her.

"Dr. Granger. I've been looking forward to meeting you." This was not quite true; he had in fact been nervous at the prospect of meeting Hermione's parents. It was the right thing to say, however; the distaff Dr. Granger's face looked surprised and relieved, as though she had expected to find him without even the most rudimentary manners. Perhaps she had; no doubt Hermione had had a thing or two to say about him during her years as his student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

"Hermione will be down soon," she said with a tentative smile. The Grangers seemed as nervous as he felt, Severus thought. "We asked her if we might have a few minutes to chat with you first, if you don't mind."

"Of course." He did mind, but he couldn't very well say so. This gauntlet would have to be run.

Dr. Granger settled herself next to her husband, and Severus resumed his seat, trying to appear relaxed. These people could not forbid him to see Hermione if they chose not to like him, but it would not do for him to be a cause of friction between the Grangers and their daughter if it could be helped. The fledgling relationship was delicate, and he was not sure it could overcome such an obstacle.

Hermione's father took the lead. "It was a bit of a – shock – when Hermione told us about the two of you. We've heard quite a bit about you, you see."

"Very little of it good, I'm sure."

"Well, to be honest, no, it wasn't. She's told us about the role you had to maintain; all that stuff about Voldemort. Glad he's history," he said.

"So am I," said Severus lightly. The gods willing, they would never know how much this was true.

Dr. Granger cleared his throat again. "So…"

"Professor Snape, we have to tell you that we're concerned about the age difference between you and our daughter," said his wife. "That, and that she developed her feelings for you such a short time after her breakup with Ron Weasley." Dr. Granger looked worried.

These were difficult points on which to reassure her, he reflected. He had some qualms himself. But Hermione had always been mature for her age; the biggest surprise to him was that she had ever entangled herself with Weasley at all.

"I would have your concerns, were I in your place," he found himself saying. "I still find it hard to believe that Hermione returns my feelings for her. I want nothing more than to be worthy of her affection." He couldn't bring himself to say 'love.' A sense of unreality still clung to that word.

Hermione's father leaned forward. "I can't think of any way to say this without it sounding prejudiced and irrational, but it's how I feel, so I'll just say it. I would prefer for Hermione to find a man who's a Muggle. This date with you, tonight – it feels like one more step away from us. I know, she's growing up, and there's nothing I can do to halt that. I don't really want to, of course. But I see her being absorbed completely into the wizarding world, and I don't like it. We can't follow her there." He took his wife's hand and squeezed it.

"You might perhaps be more comfortable if I were a Muggle, Doctor. But can you say that you wouldn't still feel as if I were taking away your little girl, as it were?"

"You've got me there," the older man said, smiling a little. "No, I wouldn't much like you no matter who you were. I'm not saying that I dislike you, Professor."

"Please call me Severus." The constant reminder of the differences in his and Hermione's ages, and their recent relationship as teacher and student, weren't likely to be helpful.

Dr. Granger nodded. "It's not you personally I dislike, Severus. It's everything you represent."

Severus couldn't help it; he raised his eyebrows challengingly.

"I think what my husband is trying to say, Severus, is that we haven't adjusted to thinking of Hermione as grown up. She's still a few weeks away from eighteen, you know." She held up a hand before he could speak. "I realize that in wizarding terms, this is quite adult. She's received invitations to two weddings, and both brides were in her graduating class. I just don't want her rushing into anything before she's had time to look about her a bit, see something of the world outside of Hogwarts."

"For heaven's sake, Mum, this is only a date. Our first date, I might add. And I think it's time we got started with it. We'll be late for the movie if we don't go now."

Hermione stood in the arched doorway, clad in a short skirt and a light cotton sweater that clung to her lush curves. It looked exotic to Severus, who was used to seeing her in the black robes of a Hogwarts student. He realized that he had never had the first idea of what those robes concealed, and he was taken by surprise by his body's reaction to Hermione in the revealing Muggle clothing. He hoped desperately that her parents had no occasion to look down until he got himself under control, and thought longingly of his own concealing robes. The black twill slacks he wore did not hide nearly enough.

Hermione's parents took the escape of their prey with good grace, and managed to refrain from telling her what time she had to be home. As the door closed behind them, and they walked to the car Hermione had borrowed from her mother for the evening, both sighed with relief.

"I'm sorry about that, Severus," she said, as she pulled into the evening suburban London traffic. "Dad sprung that on me about ten minutes before you arrived, or I'd have owled you to warn you that he wanted to 'check you out,' as he put it, for himself. Was it really awful?" She smiled lovingly at him.

In that moment, he decided he'd relive the episode a dozen times if it meant he could have this woman to himself afterwards. An intoxicating Muggle perfume teased his nose. He'd fight dragons for Hermione; trying to appear good enough for her in her father's eyes wasn't that much more difficult, he supposed. He smiled back, his expression more restrained than her own.

"No, it wasn't awful. Your parents care about you deeply, and I'm glad for that."

"So am I. But they had their fun; there won't be any more question and answer sessions after tonight, I promise."

"It wasn't so much questions and answers, as it was veiled threats. Does your father really know karate?"

"No, thank goodness," she laughed.

"What is karate?"

She gave him a brief overview of Muggle martial arts as she drove. Within fifteen minutes, they were at the cinema, and Hermione shepherded him through the process of buying tickets and getting popcorn. They found seats in the back row as the house lights dimmed.

Snape had no idea what to expect from the experience. Hermione had told him the name of the film she'd chosen, but it meant nothing to him, nor did the actors she named. After a few minutes, he ventured to complain that there seemed to be no story to Muggle movies, just flashes of action that he couldn't follow.

"These are just previews," she whispered back. "Advertisements for movies that haven't been released yet. That's why it says 'Spring 1999' on the screen; that's when that movie will be in theaters."

He was relieved; she seemed very fond of movies, and he didn't want to have to tell her that wasn't interested in seeing any more of them. The actual movie began shortly, and although a great many things that went on in the film were unfamiliar, he found himself becoming engrossed in it. Shortly after it began, he tentatively placed his arm about her shoulders. She snuggled closer. She stole a kiss shortly thereafter, and he reciprocated several times. At the end of it, he considered the two hours very well spent indeed.

Later, ensconced in a booth in an establishment that advertised Chicago style pizza, drinking something dark brown, fizzy and sweet, he tried to convey his impressions of the first movie he had ever seen.

"I've been looking forward to 'Armageddon' for awhile," Hermione said. "The previews looked fantastic. Some parts of it were ridiculous, but overall it wasn't bad."

"It does make one wonder, though," Snape mused.

"What, about the likelihood of a giant asteroid crashing into the Earth?"

"No, about whether everyone who saves the world is named Harry," he said, referring to the character played by Bruce Willis.

Hermione choked on her soda.

"Did you notice, that NASA fellow bore a disturbing resemblance to Lucius Malfoy?" he continued.

"Billy Bob Thornton?" She found this amusing.

"Was he the English fellow?" asked Snape.

She blinked. "Oh, my gosh. Dr. Quincy. Severus, you're right. Put blond hair on him, take off the glasses, and it was Mr. Malfoy to the life. They say everyone has a twin, but… eww. That poor actor."

When they left, they decided to walk for a few blocks rather than going directly back to the car. Neither was quite ready to end the evening. He took her hand, and they strolled until they came to a bridge overlooking the Thames. The lights of London twinkled in the distance, and a light fog came up from the river. They stopped halfway across, and Hermione wrapped her arms around Severus.

"Are you cold? That skirt…"

"No, Severus, I'm not cold. I just wanted to feel you against me."

His throat constricted. Gods, how he wanted her. His need to taste her lips again overpowered his desire not to make a spectacle of them, and he leaned down to capture her mouth. She responded eagerly, and they kissed passionately for several minutes.

A voice calling out from a passing car said, "Get a room," and they sprang apart guiltily. Hermione blushed, but smiled happily. Fingers entwining again, they walked back to her car.

When they returned to her parents' house, he declined her invitation to come in. Despite her assurances that there would be no further parental inquisition, he had no desire to tempt fate. He pulled her close to him on the porch, trying to ignore the movement of the curtains that signaled observation from within.

"Thank you for a most interesting evening, Hermione," he whispered against her ear.

"I wish it didn't have to end here," she said, nuzzling against his neck. He shivered.

"Perhaps soon we shall have to follow the advice we were given tonight."

"What advice?" She pulled back to look up at him, puzzled.

"The gentleman on the bridge – you'll recall that he told us to get a room."

"Oh. Oh, yeah." She laughed. "Excellent idea."

He kissed her once more, stepped back, and Disapparated.

The End