He looked at the bench.

As he stood in the middle of the fairly busy sidewalk, people aimlessly walked around him, ignoring the look of pain and anguish on the man's face. Perhaps if they looked closer, removing themselves from their own bubble for a moment, they would recognize the man, for he was, indeed, very recognizable in the wizarding world. Even here in the back corner of wizarding London.

This man was Severus Snape, Potions master, ex-Death Eater, Order of the Phoenix member, killer of Dumbledore, member of the Final Battle, and Order of Merlin recipient. He had most likely taught a fair majority of the people that passed him on the street, but no one noticed.

And he only noticed the bench. The bench that sat on the corner. Her corner. Their corner.

Though the autumn day still held traces of summer, he knew that in the coming days the air would turn cold and forbidding. Snape walked to the bench, currently uninhabited, and took a seat and waited. Wrapping the edges of his familiar black cloak around him, he tucked the handkerchief that would enlarge to a blanket in his had changed many things about him, but the cloak remained, and would always remain, if for no reason than to call to mind her fond exasperation when he would put it on.

The sun passed overhead as the time wore on. Soon, the cloak was set over the back of the bench, and he brought out a book to read. The crowds around him thinned and then were bolstered again with the coming of the end of the work day.

Snape set his book aside for a while, and watched them as they passed. How many had passed them on that first day? The day they re-met, as she liked to call it. How many were in their own little bubble, walked past the couple as they walked past him now, oblivious to the life altering changes that were being made right before their eyes?

He looked at the front door of the bookstore, just down from a small café, as though it had personally offended him. Somehow, he knew, everything was all its fault.

It was through that door that the bushy haired young woman had first come from, her nose down in a book, in her own bubble as she left work. He was wrapped in his own life as well, looking at the menu of the café to see if they had something palatable before he had to Apparate back to the school with the fresh supplies he had just gathered. He was as oblivious of her as she was of him until he felt a soft flour sack walk straight into his side with a muffled, "Oompf."

She looked at him with a reproachful glare as he looked at her with a brow raised in question. The look on both of their faces must have been priceless as they realized who they shared company with at the same moment.

She recovered faster than he did and bubbled out, "Professor! It's good to see you! How are you doing? No one has heard much from you in the last few years. I mean, I know you're still teaching, or at least that's what Minerva said, but we haven't seen you out anywhere. Are you picking up supplies for class?"

Looking down at the girl, he noticed the changes in her features. Not any taller or heavier since graduation, it seemed, but she had a bit of a tan bringing out her features and freckles and looked more like a sprite than a frizzy bookworm. He noticed no wedding band. "Miss Granger. Yes, these are for class. I'm not often at liberty to gallivant the countryside, as my duties at Hogwarts keep me as busy as I ever was."

He had thought that was the end of the conversation, but he had once again underestimated her. Hermione inquired what he was teaching the students that needed such fresh herbs and thus started a new chapter in his life.

It wasn't until the streetlights came that they realized they had been standing there talking for hours. Her laughter tinkled over the mostly empty streets, echoing on the buildings and windows. Inviting him into the café, which she assured him was excellent, they continued their conversation. When their tea and coffee had grown cold, she had the audacity to ask if she could meet him again.

Before his mind recognized what she had asked, he had already agreed and set up a time.

They met several times on that corner, in that bookstore or at that café. This was now their corner.

And that was why she was no longer here.

His mind snapped back to the present. It was nearing dusk now, and only the younger witches and wizards were out for an evening stroll, cup of tea, or bit of window shopping.

From out of his pocket, he pulled out a photograph. It was Hermione, shortly after they had renewed their friendship. She was laughing in the photo, and smiling at the photographer – himself – as she beckoned him to join her in the cameo. Of course he refused, but the sight of the happiness on her face had made a mark on him and he kept it close by. Now, it was for a different reason.

Snape was, by trade, a solitary man. He kept to himself in the dungeons, at staff meetings, or at war councils on either side. He didn't make friends easily, and once gone, they were gone forever. It wasn't in his nature to go talking to strangers, or anyone for that matter. No, his silence and solitude were enjoyed as close companions. Hermione had opened him up a bit in the two years they had been together, but he still wasn't what once would call social. Even talking to Potter and Weasley on occasion couldn't change that.

And even though he knew that it was futile, today, he couldn't help but approach a young couple as they passed his bench.

Clearing his throat, he showed them the picture and asked, "Have you seen this girl?"

With a startled shake of their heads, the couple quickly passed him. Snape frowned at the picture, which gave him a curious look in return, and he waited to ask the next passerby if they had seen his Hermione and if they did, to tell her where he was.

~~HGSS~~

The elderly gentlewizard left his bookstore, locking it up tight and warding it as usual. And as usual, there was the dark haired young man looking forlorn on the corner as he cautiously approached the walkers of the street.

Today, the elderly man decided to approach him, to see if he needed assistance. Perhaps he was a Muggle and just confused, maybe hit with a strong Confundus. He wasn't sure what had happened, but he knew that for a week straight, the man came and would stand on the corner, rain or shine, from dawn until after he closed his shop. Mostly, he would sit quietly on the bench, but occasionally he could be seen talking to someone.

The man approached him and waited for his conversation with a lady to end before addressing him. "Can I help you, son? Are you lost? I'm heading for home now, and I'm sure Susan will be cooking up something fine if you'd like to have a meal and get off this street for a –."

His speech ended abruptly as he looked up at the face of the first time. Even after a week, most still just ignored him. It was astonishing how quickly they could begin to disregard a fellow human.

"Why, you're, you're…"

"Yes, I am," said the man, now recognized as Severus Snape. He held up the slightly creased photo for the man to see. "Have you seen her, sir?"

The gentleman shook his head sadly. "No, no I haven't. Not since, well…" He seemed unable to finish his sentences in Snape's presence. He looked into the younger wizard's black eyes, wondering if he should be looking with contempt, but saw only despair looking back at him.

"If you see her, or hear from her, please tell her where I am? Tell her I'll be waiting," said Snape and politely backed away to take a seat back on the bench.

Poor sod will be waiting for a while, thought the man as he went home to see what his wife had on the fire.

Snape watched him leave with a sigh. In truth, a hot meal did sound pleasant, but he could bring what he needed, or grab a bite to go at the café. He had his book – her book, truthfully – and his blanket with a thermos of hot tea. He would be fine.

The older man's reaction was the same as many he had spoken to. Wizards didn't have a concept of homelessness. One always had a home with one's family, regardless of the circumstances. If your immediate family wouldn't have you, well, chances are there was a large extended relation, and someone would take you in until you were back on your feet. No one lived in the streets. Relations would support you if for no other reason than to not be disgraced by one of their own living in a box in Knockturn Alley.

People would approach him, ask him if he needed a few Galleons or to be directed to the Ministry or St. Mungo's. He always refused, and asked after Hermione. They didn't understand that he wasn't broke, just broken-hearted.

What else could he be after having two years with the woman who became the central force in his life? He was vaguely aware he was ruled by a new Master – Mistress – but who was he to complain? None had ever brought his so much pleasure.

But now, none had brought him so much pain. It had been nearly two months since he'd seen her last.

The evening grew chilly and he drew out the hanky that became a large fleece blanket. He refused to leave until the last person on the street was gone, so some evenings it was necessary to take precautions against the chill. He was tempted many evenings to spend the night on the bench. How was he to know when she might come looking for him? What if it was in the middle of the night and he failed her? Could he live with the knowledge that he failed her again?

It was foolish, in a way, to continue this vigil, but he knew he would until he saw her again. One way or another, he needed to see her.

With the last woman he had loved, had thought he loved, he never got that opportunity. No last goodbyes or fond farewells. Reconciliation wasn't in the cards for them. Neither was cautious acceptance or even simple understanding.

And now, nothing was in the cards for the beautiful Lily Evans. Lily Potter. Potter.

With Lily, he felt as though the sun and moon set in her eyes. With Hermione, she made him feel as though they set in his eyes as well.

Now that he looked back with a different perspective, he looked back at his younger self with disgust. He must have followed her along and idolized her just as Pettigrew had trailed after Potter and the rest of the band of Gryffindor misfits.

He knew the difference between love and infatuation. Love and fascination. Love and obsession. Lily had become his obsession, the best he believed he wouldn't have and didn't deserve, and the fact that Potter did only increased his hate for the man, and by proxy, the child.

When he became involved with Hermione, Snape had no choice but to interact with the boy. But Hermione made it worth it, and he learned that Potter was in turn both his parents…and neither.

Oh, Hermione.

How was he supposed to forget her? Is that what she thought would happen?

He was steadfastly devoted to a ghost who had never loved him in return for 20 years. How was he possibly supposed to forget about the one who became his reason for waking?

He learned how to make hair cream for her. He planted roses in his garden, so he would have them on hand to gift her with. He tolerated her friends, took a turn in the kitchen, and even let her pick the side of the bed she preferred.

If there was a way to return to that bliss, he had no idea what it was. Everything he mulled over seemed too inadequate, too cliché, or, heaven forbid, too Hufflepuff. Some lineseven he could not be expected to cross.

And yet here he was, crossing some of those lines. Taking to people, patiently putting himself in the public eye, just in case maybe, maybe, she should come looking for him.

~~HGSS~~

He stared at the bench.

A mother was sitting there amongst her shopping with her young son. The toddler was playing in her arms while they waited for someone or something. Her chestnut hair had caught his eye for a moment before he noticed the boy. Now he couldn't stop watching their display of familial bliss.

Shaking his head out of his reverie, he braced himself against the chill of the day and stood alone on the corner. Watching the passersby, he held his photo, prepared to talk those around him in his search for Hermione.

Snape kept replaying in his mind how it had come to this. How such a wonderful thing had become so tragically shattered. How his world had turned from zenith to nadir in the proverbial blink of an eye.

He hadn't realized anything was amiss for a while. Not being familiar with the ins and outs of long term relationships, both he and Hermione had a bit of a honeymoon phase where they enjoyed getting to know the other and learning what made each other tick. He knew that there were times when she became exasperated or irritated with him, but it was shortly shrugged off and not generally discussed.

After a while, it became more obvious that she wasn't as happy as he. She would spend more time at work at the bookstore, the one he first saw her leaving when they re-met. Now he could see that perhaps his constant comments that she was wasting her intellect were out of line. After all, she had a job she loved, which was more than he could say.

The Potters and Weasleys also had her as a more frequent visitor. He would rarely attend, on principle, ignoring her frustrated face as she left, turning back to whatever he had deemed was more important at the time. It had never crossed his mind that perhaps she had just wanted to spent time with him out socially, since it's not like they went dancing, and that she wanted to show her friends the true side of Snape they had never seen. It never crossed his mind that her friends had changed over the years, just as he had.

So many things had never crossed his mind, and they were all that crossed his mind now.

Hermione had never said a word to him. Now he knew she didn't see it as her place to try and change him. She would accept him as he was, or she would find someone else. She loved him dearly and let him know often, but she knew what happened when you tried to change someone or expected them to change.

It hadn't worked with Ronald, and she wouldn't try it with him. It wasn't fair to either of them.

The final straw was just after their two year anniversary. They had never had a formal 'Will you go steady with me?' moment, and so considered that first day they met as their anniversary. Even Snape didn't mind celebrating this novel event. It was a time for good food, good company, and great sex.

A few days later, Hermione had woken up from his home, where she conveniently had some clothes, and prepared herself for work. 'I love you!' she had said as she grabbed a handful of Floo powder.

He looked up at her from where he was preparing a cup of tea. 'I know,' Snape had replied in his usual fashion.

Hermione's smile faltered. 'Can't you say it? Just once? It's been two years, Severus.'

'It's not my way,' he said simply.

She had tried to cajole, bribe, whine, beg, and plead it out of him. Truthfully, it had been a bone of contention for some time. The 'L' word had been spoken by her early in the relationship, her far more confident in her feelings than he. As patient as she was, about six months before the end, she had begun questioning him on it. Would he ever love her? Had he ever loved? Did he love her and just not want to say it?

His vague responses generally drew a huff and her silence. For a while, at least. But apparently, the time had come to shit or get off the pot, as his father used to say. Hermione needed reassurance of her place with him, and he had been unable to provide it.

Saving him the decision making, she had chosen to get off the pot.

Snape looked down at the smiling woman held in his hands.

Her things had been gone by the time her returned from the market.

He hadn't heard from her since.

After three weeks of unreturned owls, he broke down and contacted Potter. Over a very tense dinner, Snape learned a few valuable things. One was the art of groveling, for surely something major would need to be done in order to get back in Hermione's good graces. Two was that he would need to wait for Hermione to not wish to hex him on the spot before he attempted to approach her and no one knew how long that would be.

Three was that Potter had grown up, and was indeed worthy of a bit of his respect.

Four was he loved her. Why it took her leaving for him to realize it, he wasn't sure, but he knew it from his greasy hair down to his dragonhide boots that he loved Hermione Granger and was willing to do what it took to get her back.

Which is how he found himself out here in the English cold with a wrinkly photo, fuzzy blanket and thermos of tea for the third week in a row.

His owls still hadn't been returned, and if he saw Potter on one of the young man's frequent trips to Hogwarts, he would just shake his head at his old professor and keep walking. Any knock of her door went unanswered and after what he learned about her employment, it was in question whether that was where she still resided.

Shortly after his first trip to their corner, Snape learned that Hermione was no longer employed at the bookstore. The owner either didn't know where she worked now, or couldn't say. She had handed in her notice the day she had removed her things from his home. No one had seen her around here since.

With a sigh, Snape sat down on the now abandoned bench and waited for night to fall.

~~HGSS~~

Little flakes of white dusted his shoulders and hair. A few swirled in the air around him, lightly touching the ground before melting. It wouldn't be long before they stayed. He thought it appropriate.

Six weeks had now come and gone since he first arrived. Almost four months since he had laid eyes on Hermione. After seeing her face nearly every day, he used to wonder how he had survived before her.

Now he wondered how he would survive after her.

The crowds around him had become adjusted to his presence. Many of the faces were familiar to him. Not from his time as a teacher, but because he would watch their travels to and from work each day, or as they took lunch in the café, or came to bring custom to their favorite shops. He learned the faces of their close friends and significant others. He learned not to approach them.

They knew who he was looking for, though scant few knew why. Snape could only trust they would make mention of him if any of them were in her acquaintance. Merlin knew he had spent too little time amongst her friends.

The thick shirt and jacket held up with a Warming charm kept him warm, but his toes were beginning to feel the chill. He bobbed a bit on his feet to keep the blood moving as paced around the corner.

Between six and seven in the morning, he would arrive each day, and, beginning as he had meant to go on, he would stay until the last shopper was gone. In this weather that thankfully meant it would be earlier than the summer months. Typically ten at night found him back at home with a warm meal in front of a roaring fire, occasionally stealing glances at the door he knew she wouldn't come through.

Shortly after lunch, a portly man came and stood next to the bookshop. Snape noticed him immediately, for some skills never fade. After some time of observance, the man, clearly an Auror, approached him.

It seemed Snape was garnering attention, but not the sort he wished.

The shorter man eyed him. "It's come to my attention that you seem to be at this corner every day, Mr. Snape."

"It's still Professor Snape," said the teacher, "Unless the headmistress has seen fit to revoke my position instead of honor my leave of absence, which she had not informed me of."

"Excuse me, you are correct, Professor. However, some of the shop owners are growing weary of your continued presence. They fear you are chasing away valuable clientele, and giving the street a feeling of, well…that it's not kept to the once high standard it was."

Snape bristled at the man's words, but kept his voice gentle. He knew that if he spoke wrongly, or offended the man, he could be carted away for a number of reasons. And this was a wizard in position to move around society. Perhaps he could become an ally instead of an enemy.

"I'm sorry someone has told you such things. I do nothing more than sit on this bench and speak with some who pass. I assure you, the number of patrons has remained steady since I first arrived, for I watch them every day. I would love nothing more than to let this corner see my back for the last time and never return. But I can't."

The Auror gave the tall fellow a curious look, clearing inquiring his meaning for remaining on an average street corner in the recesses of the city.

"I see you are married," said Snape, by way of explanation. "Imagine if your wife had left you, Auror. I presume you would do anything for her to return."

The balding Auror, who said his name was Fox, murmured his assent.

"My…loved one…has left me, Auror Fox, and I know not how to make her return. There was never any making her do anything. She is willow, sir. Five feet four inches, willow, with a phoenix feather core. She is thin, flexible, and excellent in Transfiguration. Vengeful when wronged and fiercely loyal, with a temper to rival any woman who hath been scorned. So I must wait for her to be amenable to reconciliation, for to force her would be pointless. And if one morning, she wakes, and wonders about me, this is where she will come. If she is curious about my well being, or wants an explanation, or just wishes to have me plead forgiveness at her feet and shower her with roses and affection, she'll know, sir, that I am here. This is where we re-met. This is where my life began. This is where it will end, in due course, should the morning she wonders about me never come to pass. So you see, each day, each month, each year is nothing without her. And if she looked for me, and I wasn't here for her, if I failed her again, I would never be able to forgive myself. It's only with her forgiveness that I'll be absolved."

The Auror was physically stunned at the man's calm but heartfelt words. This was not what he had been expecting. Oh, he had heard that the young Miss Granger and this professor had been linked, but he doubted anyone knew of the sincerity of their bonds. And he had no idea what this poor man had done, but it was his opinion that his paramour would be a lucky lady indeed if she should chose to look after him again.

Auror Fox shook his head and lay on arm on Snape's elbow. "You have my well wishes, son, and you'll be in my thoughts. My wife's as well, once I tell her about you. This will be one for the books if she comes back. And I'll bet she might. Women have a way of waiting until you truly think they're gone before they welcome you back with open arms."

Snape looked at the friendly hand on his elbow and then back to the other man. "I sincerely hope you are correct."

He stood and watched as the man ambled off before Apparating with a soft pop. Off to hug his wife and let her know he loved her, before rubbing her feet in the jasmine oil she loved, knowing he needed to show her more often how much she meant to him. He never wanted to join the dark haired man on the corner.

~~HGSS~~

The young man huffed as he sat on the corner next to his old Potions master.

"You look like death."

"Thank you for your assessment, Mr. Potter. Anything else you care to enlighten me with?" said the sour man.

Harry sighed again, taking in his professor's full picture. He had been watching Snape from the window of the café, not willing to observe him in the frigid cold unless he could help it.

The snow would pile up in Snape's lap and on his shoulders and head, often making a full white layer before the professor could be troubled to brush it off. The man was pale, more so than usual, probably due to the cold. Harry knew he wore warm clothing and kept a blanket and warm tea on hand, but nothing besides being indoors could fully protect from the elements. He had kept up his appearance at least, better than some men he knew suffering from heartbreak and loneliness. Ron had looked like a caveman after Luna left him for a few months after their graduation.

Snape, however, looked like he decided he was going to face each day as the possible day Hermione would come back, and besides being pale from the chill, he was going to look his finest. Or at least like normal. His hair was combed, his face was shaven, and his clothes were pressed, if a bit wrinkled from sitting outside so long.

Harry looked up to see Snape staring into the crowd of holiday shoppers. "You can't keep going on like this. If she hasn't come by now, she isn't likely to."

"But that doesn't mean she won't. So I will remain."

Shaking his head, Harry tried again. "Why don't you try talking to her again? Send her an owl, or swing by her flat? Surely by now she would be willing to listen to you."

Snape raised his brow to the young man. "Do you know your friend as well as you think you do, Potter? How long have you two or her and Weasley gone without speaking? And I fear my transgression far outweighs any of your doings. No. I must wait for her to be willing to entertain my audience. Anything else would be a waste, and would possibly push her further away."

Harry reluctantly agreed with Snape. Hermione could be quite stubborn, and though he hadn't dared ask, he imagined Snape messed up royally. Hermione had cared for him deeply, much to her friends chagrin; it would have taken something major to make her leave.

"They're talking about you, you know."

Snape snorted. "What else is new?"

"I've heard people gossip, even in Hogsmeade, and a few days ago they had you on the news on the Wizarding Wireless. People are wondering exactly why you're out here. I mean, they know it has something to do with Hermione, but you guys didn't exactly paint the town red. Not many knew you were together. They call you the man who won't be moved, like you sitting here is a huge deal. The theories on why are rather entertaining, I think. You might like them. One is that she is your lost slave, and you are trying to bribe people for her return. Another is you want to harvest her for blacklisted potions ingredients or that you're still a Death Eater and want to kill her in the name of Voldemort. No one really thinks you love her and want her back though. At least that that I've heard."

A sigh was heard from Harry's companion. "Then perhaps I'm not going about this correctly."

"No," Harry disagreed. "You are. Just people have a hard time believing it. They'll come around. You have people on your side already. I know Ginny has brought you up to Hermione, and Mrs. Weasley has dropped your name here and there. But you know Hermione. Only she'll make her own decisions. But you could meet her anywhere, Snape. Her flat, your house. Hogwarts, a diner."

"The name is Severus. And it must be here. This place…it has meaning for us both. Things started for us here, and they should start over from here. This is the first place she will look for me, and I cannot fail her again, Potter. Do you understand?" his voiced asked roughly before becoming soft. "I cannot fail her again."

"The name is Harry. And if this is where you're going to be, I'll make sure she knows it."

"Thank you…Harry."

Snape leaned against the bench as the young man left and brushed off the snow that had gathered on his person. Many people, it seemed, had come to broach conversation with him since he began his vigil on this street corner. Perhaps, even if things didn't pan out between Hermione and himself, other people would benefit from his experience. And perhaps he would gain an ally and friend or two along the way.

Though he didn't know if he could tolerate Weasley coming to call. He supposed he'd cross that bridge when and if it arrived.

He thought about what Potter – Harry – had said about him being on the news. People seemed to be becoming more focused on what they considered to be his little stunt. What if he never left this bench permanently? What if he returned here, every morning, every day, until he died, some untold decades in the future?

Is that what he would then become known for? Known as the Man Who Couldn't Be Moved? Better than He Who Must Not Be Named, at least.

But it would be rather ironic if all of his past deeds were looked over in favor of this one. His teaching, his discoveries, his Death Eater days and subsequent spying, his role in the death of the two most powerful wizards. All on the back burner to his sitting on a bench on a corner in a place some people had never seen. That was not his original intention, but he would take his publicity where he could if it meant Hermione would hear.

His mind continued to wander as night fell. Did he survive two wars and Neville Bloody Longbottom to catch his death sitting here? Would that be his final downfall?

The sun traced it's now familiar path. Even the number of bricks and the peels of paint were familiar. Eventually, Snape rose from his seat and moved on down the street to Apparate home to his warm fire. Tomorrow was another day.

~~HGSS~~

His blanket was now Transfigured as a liner to his robes. January was cold.

"Excuse me, Madam, have you…"

"Pardon me, miss, perhaps…"

"Sir? Have you seen…"

Each day was more of the same. Instead of holiday shoppers, you had post holiday sale shoppers and gift returners. The crowd was still sizable and offered the benefit of new faces.

Snape took a break and sat back down, dusting off the bench. The pad of his thumb caressed the photo, imagining he could feel her curls.

Had the morning already come to pass when she would wake up and wonder about him? In his arrogance, he hadn't really considered the possibility that she would wonder and then choose to not come inquire.

But no. Surely with her curious mind, she would wonder about him. There must be something about him worth missing. His kisses perhaps, or his roses. Maybe the perfect eggs he cooked in the morning.

In his mind, he saw her coming to him as he sat here. She would be touched by his devotion, waiting here for her every day, rain, shine, or snow. He would be sitting here, book in hand. It was her book, her favorite book, the one she had been reading when they re-met. He would invite her to the café to talk and she would graciously accept. They would re-re-meet, beginning their life together, one day at a time.

Snape sighed, and recast his Warming Charm.

Maybe she would be the one to push to reconcile. She might sneak up on him, and wrap her arms around him and pull him in for a kiss without question. He wouldn't refuse her, of course. He was learning when it was in his benefit to compromise.

Maybe she had already come. What if he spent so much time imagining her that he brushed off the real Hermione as an apparition? He had confused her face, her hair, her walk, her laughter with others on this corner in the past. Perhaps she had taken a page out of Harry's book and simply watched him for a while without making herself known.

This line of thinking was getting him nowhere. He was merely becoming agitated.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a mass of brown curls. With a sigh, he pushed the unfortunate woman who snagged his attention out of his mind and turned back to the Daily Prophet. No more daydreams for him.

Softly, he heard a voice over his shoulder. "Severus?"

Snapping his head to attention, he saw a young woman with a brown riot of curls. With warm chestnut eyes, ivory skin and a nose dusted with freckles. He saw Hermione, and her hand was stretched out to him, as though he were the apparition.

"Hermione?" asked his rough voice in disbelief.

She nodded at him and took a step forward, lightly touching her hand to his shoulder. Forgetting any speech he had made or grand plans for groveling he had or the perfect one liner, he simply stood up and grabbed her into his embrace, as though she was the prodigal woman.

"I was prepared to wait forever," he whispered into her hair.

He heard her chuckle. "So I heard."

Suddenly, he heard her sniffle. "Harry talked to me, and said you were down here. I didn't believe it, but then I heard the report on the news. Everyone kept asking me about it, and I didn't know what to tell them. I missed you, Severus. Why didn't you just come and say you were sorry?"

Snape pulled back a little to look into her puffy, tear streaked face. "Hermione…you deserved much more than just an apology. I love you. I don't know why it took you leaving for me to be able to say it, I had known it for some time, but I love you. I should have never left you in doubt of my affection."

"We were both really being stupid, weren't we?"

"Well, I certainly was. I don't think you ever have been."

Hermione pushed away from him and pulled his hands for him to sit down beside her on the bench. "I never should have pushed you, Severus. I knew your feelings, once I knew what to look for. You showed me your affection, and I was simply too blind or stubborn to see it. Just because it isn't conventional doesn't mean it isn't real." She smiled. "We both should know that."

And that was true. There were many things to call their relationship but conventional wasn't on the list. It had been full of passion, devotion, respect, and now, they knew, love, but one couldn't call the sour ex-Death Eater turned teacher and his young, Golden Trio student conventional.

Once again, she stood up. Not prepared to spend so much time in the cold, her hands and feet were becoming numb. "If you'd like, we could go into the café and talk. Or, if you want, we could go somewhere else. I've really missed you, you know. We could go back to my flat. It's warm and the kettle should still be too. You could sit on something a little softer then this bench…but if you just want to sit here or the café, that's fine too. I shouldn't presume. Whatever you like is fine."

Snape grabbed one hand that Hermione was waving about the air as she spoke. "I've sat here for four months waiting for you, Hermione. I'll go wherever you ask. Your flat sounds fine. Especially if there is some of the Darjeeling…"

Hermione smiled and turned her hand so she was holding his, rather than being grasped by it. "There is. Come on, we want to get there before its cold again. And happy birthday, Severus."

Snape thought that corner had seen his back for the last time, but alas, it wasn't to be. Hermione would often walk with him there, they would sit on the bench, and she would ask him about his time spent there. He would tell her of the interesting people he met and the conversations they had. They would talk about Potter and his meddling; a fine headmaster or Minister of Magic he would be one day.

He hadn't realized how those short few months would alter his life. Sometimes, he would be talking to the parents of his students once he was back at Hogwarts, and they would see him with Hermione and give him a knowing smile. Hermione had cried on the day he gave her back her book, and they would sit and read it together, even though both knew passages by heart.

The soft fleece blanket was taken out of his robes, and became the favorite of their first child. It had possibly been dragged over every stone in Hogwarts.

And Snape was, as he feared, known as the man who couldn't be moved. But in his later years, that was due more to his unwavering devotion to his wife, and how he could be found most often standing by her side, unwilling to be moved.

Author's Note: This piece is based on the song "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" by the Script. I like the Straight No Chaser version. If you wish to listen, it can be found here: http:/ /s47 .photobucket .com/albums/f196/Cybrokat/?action=view¤t=MWCBM .mp4

Also, each section is 1,086 words. I have no idea why.