Alright, yes I know I still have another project (Point of Love) that's been waiting for an update for a long time now, but I had this idea, and I wanted to run with it while I had it in my head.
Normal disclaimers, nope, I am not JK Rowling, nope, I do not own Harry Potter, and nope, I am not getting paid a cent to write this. I'm just having fun. And stuff. So, without further ado, I present..."The Weird Year".
Chapter 1: Marriage and Masteries
A bitter woman for a bitter man. Severus Snape had married Debra almost eighteen years ago now, only a year after the death of his first love, Lily Evens. He'd met Debra in Diagon Alley, in a potions shop that had since gone out of business. They'd both been looking for the same thing – boomslang, and there had only been one box left in stock. They'd argued as to who needed it more for a good half hour. Eventually, he'd agreed to let her have it, on condition that she allow him to take her to lunch to discuss her project which so needed the boomslang, which Severus had grudgingly found himself intrigued by.
Then, they'd both been bitter, and found common ground in that, and after a year of dating, he'd decided to do 'the right thing', and marry her. After all, he was sure as hell never going to find another Lily Evens. So they'd married, a quiet, simple bonding ceremony that she'd insisted on, despite that internally, Severus had wished for something more elaborate and meaningful.
During the War, Severus had done what he needed to do, been a spy, taught at Hogwarts, only going home to Spinner's End on weekends and holidays. Over the years, he'd grown less bitter, though with the depression, few could really tell the difference. After the war, he'd retired, and now spent every day, all year, at home with his wife.
Severus sighed. "Yes Debra?"
"Are you going to mow the lawn sometime this week?" she demanded, coming around the corner into the living room where he'd been reading Potion Masters Weekly.
"Yes, Debra," he said quietly, getting up. "I'll go do it now."
And so he mowed the bloody lawn. And then did five other things on her 'honey-do' list. Afterwards, he took a shower, dressed, and decided to get out of the house. "I'm going out for a while, dear."
He waited for her predictable "be home in time for dinner", and then stepped into the Floo.
"Hogwarts!" he said clearly. And yes, he confirmed mentally. I am that desperate.
Severus stepped out of the fireplace on the other end, in the Headmaster's Office. During the War, Severus had wanted nothing better than to get away from the Albus Dumbledore, but now, he found that he craved some of the crazy old man's wisdom.
"Severus!" Albus said, smiling. "To what do I owe the pleasure? Must be important – I haven't been able to get you into this office in three years!"
"Albus, I'm bored out of my mind," Severus said simply, passing the pleasantries by.
"How's Debra?" Albus asked, pretending as if Severus had indeed responded with a proper greeting.
"Fine. Same as always. Spends half her time locked in her private lab and the other half nagging me to do bloody housework."
"Getting bored with retirement?" Albus inquired.
"I did say that, Albus. Five minutes ago," Severus growled. The old man was insufferable still; but since the horror of war didn't change him, why should no longer being at war have any effect either?
Albus smiled brightly. "As it happens, you have excellent timing, Severus. I got an Owl from an old student of yours only yesterday, inquiring as to how she might go about finding a Potions Master to apprentice under."
"Perfect!" Severus nearly shouted. "I'll take her on!"
Albus smiled, and Severus caught that damned twinkle in his eye.
"Wait…who is it? He asked slowly.
"Miss Hermione Granger," Albus replied. "You know, Harry Potter's friend?"
Oh hell no. The insufferable know-it-all Granger. Severus gulped. "Alright. Will you get in touch with her, or shall I?"
Yes, he was that desperate.
"You're doing WHAT?" Debra shouted.
"I said I'm taking on a Potions Apprentice. I will be at Hogwarts during the day to teach her from now on." Severus said again.
"And you didn't see it fit to discuss that with me?" she glared.
"I'll be home every night, every weekend, and every holiday. You won't even miss me," he pointed out. This was why he didn't ask her first. He knew she'd object. But he just didn't care anymore. He needed some break from this monotony.
"I thought you liked retirement, Severus. More time for yourself," Debra argued.
"Deb, I HATE retirement. I'm bored out of my bloody mind being cooped up here all damn day with you. And it's not like I even get to see you much, because you're always either too busy for me, or I'm too busy doing stupid crap that you've ordered me to do."
That was it. He'd lost his temper with her. He'd only done that a few times over the years. It never ended well in his favor. In fact…
"Well, you're so sick of me, why don't you just stay at Hogwarts all week. You don't need to bother coming home at night. Or the weekends for that matter!"
"Debra…" Severus pleaded. "Please don't turn a molehill into a mountain. Do you really want things to go back to the way they were when I was teaching full time?"
Debra glared at him silently, thinking for a few moments. "Severus, I do want you to come home on the weekends, but perhaps it isn't a bad idea for you to just stay at the school during weeknights. I'm certain the Headmaster can see to a place for you to stay."
Severus was stunned. He hadn't expected her to say that. No sharp retort was forming in his mind. "Very well," he whispered. "I'll go pack some of my things, then."
Two days later, Severus was somewhat settled into his old quarters, which Dumbledore had been kind enough to leave vacant for him over the last few years. Severus guessed that somehow Albus had known that retirement would not suit him He'd been far too young for retirement anyway. Hell, he was only forty-two now. He hadn't even hit forty when he had retired.
Miss Granger would be arriving shortly. Severus sat in his favorite armchair and reflected on the year to come. Every September, he always got some mental inkling as to what kind of year it was going to be. He'd had many bad years, a few good years, and frequent enough hard years. For some reason, the word flashing in his mind to describe this coming year was 'weird'. Weird wasn't even a word Severus used. It was a juvenile sounding word and he was a grown man. But for whatever reason, he settled uncomfortably on the notion that this was going to be a 'weird year'. His intuition had never been wrong about what kind of year was to come, and for some reason, the word 'weird' frightened him more than 'hard' or bad' ever had.
There was a smart rap on the door. "Come in," he called.
And there she was. Hermione Granger. She'd grown a lot in the last three years. Her skin shone brightly, her hair was far tamer than he'd ever seen it, and she looked quite graceful, if he didn't say so himself. "Have a seat," he said with a slight smile.
"Hello, Professor Snape," Hermione said. "It's good to see you. You look well."
"As do you," he said. "And please, I haven't been called 'Professor' in three years. And you are an adult now. I think we can just go on a first name basis, if that's alright."
She smiled, sitting down across from him. "Certainly, Severus."
"Now, a few things to say before we get into Potions," Severus said, snapping to business. I will be here in the castle Monday through Friday, but my wife expects me home on the weekends."
"You married?" Hermione blurted out.
"Hermione, I've been married for eighteen years. Like you went home to see your loved ones during the holidays, I was home with my wife, Debra."
Hermione shook her head. "I had no idea. I always thought you were single."
"I'm afraid not," he replied with a forced smile. "What of you? Have you and Mr. Weasley tied the knot yet?"
Hermione chuckled. "No, Ron and I split up about two years ago. I've spent the last two years getting my Transfiguration Mastery, in France."
Severus was stunned. "You have a Mastery already? Gods girl, what the hell are you doing here then? Most wizards never get one Mastery, let alone two!"
"Actually, this will be my third. As soon as Voldemort was defeated, I started my Charms Mastery. Ron and I split right before I finished, so I had nothing better to do then go ahead for another Mastery directly after."
"Third…" Severus' jaw was slackened in awe. "Charms, then Transfiguration, and now Potions? Whatever next?"
Hermione smiled. "I think this might be the last one, at least for now. I've put some thought into going for my Ancient Runes Mastery, but honestly, how much use is that in the modern world?"
"Not too much," Severus said weakly. His mind was taking him to a place he'd not been since before Lily Evens had died. Gods girl, he thought. Where have you been all my life?