Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, just any OCs I throw in.
Dedicated to Burnedx2.
Also, sadly, I've decided to disable unsigned reviews. If you have something negative to say, I'd prefer a PM or a signed review which I can delete if needed. Unfortunately, that bit of common sense doesn't occur to some people, and I do apologize to my readers who liked to leave constructive unsigned reviews.
Chapter 4: Video Sed Non Credo, or I'm Seeing But I Can Not Believe
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Morning sun peeked through the aged sheers, waking Severus Snape far before he would have liked. He flicked his wand and the thin fabric gave a twitch, suddenly making the lighting situation a bit more forgiving on Severus's eyes. Nevertheless, the light had started to wake Severus and he reached up to rub at his eyes groggily, only to be deterred by the cloth still wrapped around his eyes. He tugged at it a bit.
Searing pain met his efforts and Severus decided his 'death' and incarceration underground had truly not been a mere dream. He tore a bit more cloth from his undershirt and wound layer upon layer around his head and over his eyes, grimacing at the necessity of it. What good was a nearly blind Potions Master?
"Hell, what good is a 'dead' Potions Master?" Severus asked the empty room. He groped around for the arm of the couch he'd slept on and hauled himself into an upright position. There were no provisions in the house, he had no coin on his person, which, sadly, he couldn't blame Weasley for – he hadn't exactly expected to be spending gads after the great battle and ergo had left his coin where it would still work: in his vault at Gringott's, still earning interest, he hoped.
But getting his money out would mean going all the way to the vaults, verifying his identity and dealing with the aftermath of not being dead. As surreptitious as the goblins could be, they could only be responsible for secrecy once he was on the way to his monies. It wouldn't do to be recognized by some would-be biographer, or more likely, Rita Skeeter, on his way.
Severus closed his eyes against his dilemma and a slow smile crept across his face. He was, for all intent and purposes, blind till his eyes readjusted; he was unwashed and unkempt, and his clothing had already seen better days before he'd been buried. Inspiration had struck. He remembered hearing of the muggles his father swindled, by pretending to be a war veteran on hard times. Surely witches and wizards had to have the same soft spots for heroes of their own war.
Severus forced himself to his feet and pulled out his wand. A few moments and his hair was no longer sheer black, but a salt and pepper affair, cut ragged over his shoulders; his black frock coat and pants became even more ill-fitting denims and long robes, the hems tattered; his blindfold stayed the same, and he conjured a tall, spindly staff, tucking his wand into the top for safekeeping. Without a wand, he would evoke even more sympathy, at least enough to keep his belly full long enough for his body to start to come back to itself.
Satisfied with his disguise, Severus concentrated and apparated himself a kilometer or so outside the small village, affecting a limp and perfecting it on the trudge into town.
It was time to go to work.
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Hermione appeared just outside the small village, her expandable bag under her arm. She saw a beggar and her heart softened for him. He looked to be blind, judging from the rags he used to hide his sightless eyes from the world. Hermione had seen what muggles would do to blind veterans and beggars, and she could only hope that wizards and witches at the very least, didn't do anything worse to their own.
The beggar's gait was proud and Hermione left herself a mental note to stop by the local tavern and make sure the barkeep knew to feed that man a large meal as he needed it while she was in town; she wasn't the richest witch in town, but she could help keep a hero fed.
Hermione waited till the beggar was even with her before dropping him an awkward curtsy and a murmured thank you. He jumped nearly out of his skin at the honors and Hermione immediately felt embarrassed; she knew how much she, Harry and Ron hated being recognized while out.
"Sorry, sir. Just wanted to thank a fellow veteran. Sorry. Erm, feel free to grab a bite at the tavern, on me, while I'm in town. Whenever you need it; I'll be here for a while," Hermione said hastily. She turned her back and hurried into the tavern before he could protest.
Hermione dropped her bag on a stool and hopped onto the next one, waving the barkeep over.
"Hi there. I'd like a butterbeer and a roast beef sandwich, warm if you've got it, but cold is fine," Hermione requested, pulling her coat off and dropping it on her bag. The young wizard slid a mug down the bar and Hermione caught it and took a deep swig. "Mmmm."
Hermione sipped quietly for a few minutes, grabbing a discarded Daily Prophet off the bar and scanning it. The headlines were nothing of interest, though she noted with a scowl that Rita Skeeter was still on staff.
"Now the old bug is claiming we didn't properly bury the war dead? What's next, we made them into a private zombie army and are just waiting to take over the Ministry? Ballocks and ashes," Hermione cursed. The barkeep coughed and she looked up, her head nearly colliding with the tray of food.
"Not a Skeeter fan, eh?" the wizard chuckled and Hermione rolled her eyes. "No worries, mate, not many here are. Don't forget, we are the birthplace of the Boy Who Lived. A grown man now, but I do believe you already know that."
Hermione groaned and he shook his head.
"I was stating a fact, lovey. Not looking for an autograph from the brains of the operation. You can call me Sean, most everyone here does. My family owns this tavern, but I'm probably the only one you'll see here. Hermione, right? Fom the old Shakespeare play," Sean the barkeep was chatty and well-informed, but Hermione felt oddly at ease.
"Ah, yes. And thank you. It's a time that was necessary but not really my favorite bit. Thank you," Hermione said, taking the tray from him. She chewed thoughtfully for a moment then remembered herself. "Ah, and there's a beggar outside, I believe him to be a veteran of our war with Voldemort…I'll be in town for a while, and please, any time he comes in, feed him and put it on my tab, will you?"
Sean nodded thoughtfully. "I surely will, ma'am. Though – is he a friend of yours? That's an awful gamble to make, you never know if he'll just drink your coin away."
"It's 'miss', not 'ma'am', and yes, I'm sure. I just have a feeling about this. If it comes to that, I'll be staying down at the old Potter place. Owl me – actually, I'll probably be back in plenty of times to eat and pass some time. But you needn't worry yourself over that," Hermione said, tacking on hastily, "but thank you for your concern. Most people would just take advantage of a young witch."
"A young witch, perhaps. But not THE Hermione Granger. Miss," Sean tipped a non-existent hat to Hermione before heading off to greet some new customers.
The roast beef was good, the bread better and the homemade chips the best. Hermione polished her meal off and gave a shiver. She turned slowly, peering out the slightly smudgy window. The beggar was across the street, looking like he was begging, but staring intently into the tavern…directly at her. Hermione gave herself a shake.
"He's blind, Hermione. He's not staring. He's incapable of staring," Hermione whispered to herself, gathering her things and pulling her coat on. She dropped coins on the table, enough to pay for her meal, a bit to make sure Sean would feed the vet, and a nice tip, she figured. She left the tavern and headed for the Potter house, only looking back once. Where the vet's eyes would have been seemed to follow her.
Hermione unlocked the house with a key Harry'd given her long ago and locked the door securely behind her. Up the stairs and down the hall she found a large, mostly empty room, save for a dresser and a bed, and she called it hers – for the foreseeable future, that was.
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Severus simply could not believe his luck. A pretty young woman to pay for his meals? Splendid. If he wanted to eat in a place where in due time someone would have to wonder who he really was. At least that meant that what money and supplies he begged for could be put aside for use till he was ready to truly be Severus Snape again.
But that pretty young woman being Hermione Granger, the annoying, truthfully unnattractive child who'd been a thorn in his side for six years at Hogwart's? He'd carefully made his blindfolds just slightly translucent so he could watch her without anyone knowing, just so he could make sure. Glossy, brownish-reddish-goldish hair that was just a bit wild now? Check. An immediate grasp at knowledge? He saw her grab the latest paper, check. A complete lack of self-awareness and safety as she seemed to miss that she was being watched? Check.
"Well, well, well," Severus muttered uner his breath, watching her go into his safe house. He had to go back there to sleep; he'd probably just duck into Lily's old den in the basement while Granger was there. So long as he was out of the cold and weather, he coul handle being in the basement; at least there the dirt was packed. He watched the door shut and he noticed she didn't put up any charms or hexes; she must feel safe.
"I see it, but I can hardly believe my eyes."
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And there you have it…not what you thought it was going to be, thought it was going to be her apparating in on him, huh? Hahah, gotcha!
Please, read, review…I wanna know what you think of Severus the veteran and beggar, and the idea of 'war heroes' in Harry Potter!