The usual disclaimers apply.

For atomicmum because she wanted something that billowed.


In contemporary English, there are many reported differences in the talk of males and females. In same gender pairs having conversations, women generally discuss their personal feelings more than men. Men appear to prefer non-personal topics such as sport and news. Men tend to respond to an expression of feelings or problems by giving advice on solutions, while women are more likely to mention personal experiences that match of connect with the other woman's. There is a pattern documented in American English social contexts of women co-operating and seeking connection via language, whereas men are more competitive and concerned with power via language. In mixed-gender pairs having conversations, the rate of men reported to use more expressions associated with tentativeness, such as 'hedges' (sort of, kind of) and 'tags' (isn't it?, don't you?), when expressing an opinion: Well, em, I think that golf is kind of boring, don't you?

(Yule, 1995)


"Your mother and I have divorced," he said, emotionless.

"What?" he asked, his eyes wide and...he wasn't sure what he felt. Surprise...maybe. Shock...definitely. He knew by the way his father was not talking about his mother. And by the way she wasn't there. Hadn't heard anything from her at all after her visit to...well.

And that came – that announcement – after his father had stayed out all day long that day and the day before and the one before that. Not that he had told Draco where he had gone. So quickly, too. Usually, divorces took a long time. Years, sometimes, if there were problems with property or money and he could see his parents fighting even over the last remaining bit of silver. Not that there was much left. Or maybe his mother had taken what was left was none of his business. He was the son, he wasn't supposed to know, he didn't want to know. Well, he did, but that didn't fit into his new image, the new Draco Malfoy he wanted to be. The perfect son and the perfect pureblood heir. He would be that person. No matter what. And the perfect pureblood son wasn't interested in his parents' reasons for divorce. He would accept it with grace. Or as much grace as he could muster. And he would not ask his father where he had been the past few days. Not that his father would tell him anyway. They didn't talk about such things.

Come to think about it – they didn't talk at all. Eating in silence, then retreating to the library, or going to their respective rooms. A quick good morning and a quick good night and most days, that was the extent of their conversation. It didn't matter.

He would go and look for a job, or at least something to do. Some way to get some money back. That was what he wanted. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Your mother and I have divorced," his father repeated suddenly. "She will return her on Saturday to get her personal things and I'd ask you to stay here to let her in and see what she takes."

"Control her?" asked Draco indignantly at being told what to do and at being interrupted in his train of thought.

"See what she takes," his father said coldly and stood up, leaving Draco once more, alone in the dining room, the rest of his dinner still in front of him. And the rest of his father's dinner on the opposite side of the table. He hadn't eaten all that much himself, Draco noticed.

The young, blonde wizard shrugged to himself. It should not matter to him anyway.


Severus hissed. He literally hissed as he stared at the screen of his laptop. Bloody woman. Bloody woman had the nerve to contact him, to email him. And where in the name of all that was holy or unholy had she got his email address from? Not from him. Certainly not from him.

Draco, his brain whispered – or Aideen. Either one of those knew his address and could have easily given it to her. Bloody woman.

Bloody woman was on his mind too bloody often in any case. Just the other night when Annie had forced him into a cuddle (not that he would call it that. He would call it – holding the woman he just had sex with), he had noticed how different the feel of her thighs were. Compared to that bit that he had felt of Granger's. Which was, of course, utterly ridiculous. She was a girl. Granger was a girl, not a woman. She was...what? Nineteen? Twenty? Almost twenty, as far as he remembered. And he, nearing his fortieth birthday.

Snape, she had written,

I just wanted to know how Aideen was. I'm very worried about her and if I can do anything, please tell me. She probably won't welcome any emails from me and so I'm writing to you. I hope you don't mind.

Hermione Granger.

How was Aideen? How the hell was he supposed to know? As far as he knew, she had made quite a lot of progress. She had almost spat in Anita Pike's face and had told that woman how ridiculous she was. Combined with his patented Death-Eating-Gryffindor-Eating-Glare, she had vanished as quickly as she could. Aideen had seen through that woman as quickly as he had, it had seemed. Not that he would be able to control what kind of rumour she spread. Eleanor would probably be able to see that it didn't spread too far. Or that it was choked right from the start.

He punched angrily on his keyboard – and didn't even consider not answering. No, he was just answering that ridiculous email. He completely forgot the option to ignore it.


Aideen is fine and she probably will welcome any emails from you more than I do.



The words, Hermione thought, were one thing. The fact that he had replied about a minute after she had sent the email, another. And it was all relative, wasn't it – Aideen wanted her emails more badly than he did but if she wanted an email from her very, very badly, he would welcome hers. All relative.

She giggled to herself – of course that was rubbish. He didn't want to hear from her but...if he responded so quickly, he couldn't mind all that much if she did get in touch with him. And maybe, he did want to know when Aideen was supposed to speak before the Wizengamot and that Andromeda was still in custody. He probably didn't want to know that Ted still looked, more often than not, like him. Something about Snape had him hooked, the little man. Didn't know what it was and it didn't matter. It looked astonishingly cute to see the little one try and scowl.

She still giggled gently at her computer and hit the reply button, her fingers poised upon the keys. She wasn't sure what to write. It had been so clear in her head a moment ago, and now, it was all – gone.


she wrote and that was as far as she got. It wasn't as simple as the first one had been. What was she supposed to write? Ted looks like you. Andromeda has gone mad. They haven't set the date for Aideen and the Wizengamot yet.

It was all rubbish.

She pressed the backspace button slowly, deleting the Snape she had written, too, the giggle gone, replaced by a frown.

Instead, her fingers typed slowly – another email.

Dear Aideen, it began,

I hope you don't mind emailing you like this. I am really very sorry about the other day but you see I never had to know tact. I mean, my best friends when I was younger were two boys and tact was absolutely lost on them. You have met Harry, I think, but you would realise that Ron, who was, and probably is, my other best friend, is just as tactless and just as clueless when it comes to hinting at things. I'm not looking for excuses but I'm not used to not stating the obvious, or what seems to be the obvious to me. You could say that, apart from Ron's little sister with whom I had sporadic contact throughout school, you are the first female friend I have. Again, not seeking excuses, just stating what is. With them, I had to be blatant and...oh, let me start at the beginning.

I don't know how much your grandmother or Snape has told you but Harry was the one who had to defeat the evil wizard. Of course I didn't know that when I befriended him. Actually, when I befriended him, he had, together with Ron, just rescued me from a rather foolish thing. I was hiding in a bathroom when there was a magical creature, back at school, trying basically kill, then eat me. Or maybe the other way around. I don't want to bore you with the minutiae of my life at Hogwarts, the school I, Harry and Ron went to, the school Snape taught at but I want to explain why I put my foot in my mouth. As I said, I befriended Harry and Ron sort of came with him. It seemed to be a package deal. And those two were prone to adventures and they pulled me into them. It would be too much to explain them all in this email but I was the one who read the books and who loved finding answers to questions, riddles or tasks. They relied on me, more or less, to find a way for them and if I didn't state that way in plain, monosyllabic words, they were lost. Not all of the time but mostly. I was twelve when I made friends with them and it's been almost eight years that we've gone through thick and thin. It got so used to being obvious and to being honest and rushing straight out with an answer that I didn't even consider for a moment to think that mentioning an owl, or a magical way of contacting Draco would hurt you. And I don't truly mean to mention magic now, it's just that I can hardly explain how our friendship began without mentioning my school, which was, in every way, magical.

But, as I said, those are boys and I cannot and don't want to, compare you to them. Quite on the contrary. It is a shame that I couldn't help you come to terms with being abducted and being exposed, such as it is, to the Wizarding World. I grew up in a family like yours, I was an only child and my parents were dentists in the South of England. I know what it's like to be suddenly confronted with the knowledge that there is an entirely different world existing parallel to 'ours'. I can remember asking loads of questions in the beginning – how come we never know there is a such a world, how come we never notice that there is a society we never see? I understand that you might have an abhorrence for the Wizarding World now, especially after the way Andromeda Tonks treated you. But let me tell you, not all of the Wizards are alike. Most of those in higher social standings and having a sort of responsibility are morons. If they weren't, they would have caught Mrs Tonks long before she had the chance to abduct you, or wouldn't have stripped Snape of his magic. But such as it is, there is decent folk amongst them as well. You met Harry and if you like, you can meet more of them. I'm not forcing you, I just try to tell you that not all of us (and I do count myself amongst the Wizarding kind in this context) are like that.

I don't mean to sound arrogant, please believe me that. I just ask of you that you see that the person who abducted you was a nut and a weirdo. She will be locked away in any case. I hope you forgive me for putting my foot in my mouth and I hope to hear from you soon.

Hermione. xx

She clicked send before she could change her mind and then, opening another window, typed before she could change her mind and before she could begin to think.


I'm not sure what to tell you. I did email Aideen and I hope she's not too angry with me. I'm not asking you to put in a good word for me but she means a lot to me and I know that she listens to you. Who wouldn't? I really didn't want to hurt her and I dpn't mean to annoy you.

Hermione Granger.

Hermione manoeuvred the mouse to 'send', then closed her eyes and clicked. The email was sent and gone by the time she reopened her eyes – and by the same time, she was about ready to kick herself for writing two such stupid things. Emails were horrible.


"Severus?" she asked very slowly and rather deliberately.

"What?" he asked, laying in, well, what was commonly referred to as post-coital bliss.

"I bought you a bathrobe," she smiled, resting her head on his chest and smiling at him.

"Thank you," he replied rather stiffly. Those cuddles were – annoying. Oh, he had to be honest with her. He had to end this. It was utter ridiculousness to keep this thing going when he knew it wasn't even a thing, when he knew he was playing with her.

"Well, put it on then," she smirked, pointing towards the bedroom door where two bathrobes hung. One in a light, powdery blue, the other in an abominable shade of brown. He had seen the powdery blue one before and so she had bought him a brown bathrobe. Terrible colour. And what was she thinking buying him that anyway? He did usually get dressed after the holding she needed. He got dressed and he went home. Usually. He didn't stay even if she asked him to.

"Annie," he said slowly, pushing her off of him.

"Try it on, I wanna see it on," she said with a smile.

No, he had to end this. It wasn't going anywhere and that woman was getting attached. Attached was bad. Attached was very, very bad. Not that he knew why she was getting attached. Not that he could understand. Maybe someone had hit her with a Confundus or maybe she was just mentally ill, who knew. But he had to walk away before she something odd. Something odder than buying him a bathrobe. Like confessing her feelings or something.

"I don't..."

"Come on," she said. "Don't be such a spoilsport."

He grimaced and walked, with as much dignity as he could muster, towards the bedroom door, pulling on the bathrobe. It was...erm. Soft. Too soft. And too smelly. Not badly smelling, but rather...too much washing powder. Or the wrong kind of washing powder.

He took two steps and caught himself in her overly large mirror...the bathrobe in the abominable shade of brown billowed.

It billowed. Like his robes had.


"No," he said rushedly. "I can't." He yanked the bathrobe off himself and threw it on the bed.


"I can't do this," he said, not daring to look her in the eye.

"Can't do what?"

"This!" he gestured between her and him – without looking at her. "This."


"I can't do this," he repeated and even to his own ears, his voice sounded too calm. Bathrobes didn't billow. They weren't supposed to billow. They were usually too short to billow decently. His own bathrobe didn't billow. Well, the old tatty one didn't and he had bothered to buy a new one. Bathrobes did not billow.

They. Did. Not. Billow.

Nothing but his robes had billowed.

He shook his head once more.

"Are you finishing me?" she asked, not fearful as he had suspected but rather...dignified. Rather calmly. He hadn't expected her to sound so calm. To look so calm, to just lay there, naked still.

"Yes," he said, putting on his boxers and his socks. Wanting to get out. As quickly as possible. One never knew with women. One never knew when they pulled their switch from calm to anger. They had such a switch. Aideen had it. Eleanor had it. Granger most certainly had it.

"Does this have anything to do with that friend of yours that made a pass at me yesterday?"


Thank you!

I'm sorry this is so late, I have a severe cold, I can't taste anything and I can't breathe through my nose and I feel like there's a lot of bees living in my head and my joints are just...yuck. Sorry if there are any mistakes in there.

I'm looking for a kind of beta for a new story I'm developing and which I probably won't post until it's finished...any takers? It's going to be quite different...

Oh, and if anyone could explain to me in plain language (preferably German ;)) how to knit a tea cosy, let me know, too. Thanks!

Yes, and you can congratulate me. The day before yesterday, I received my 100th letter of rejection from jobs I applied for.