The Diary of a Nobody

All characters belong to J. K. Rowling.

Thursday 1st December

11:00 — Staff room. Morning break.

Is now three days since Granger sent a reply to my injudicious appeal for help in furthering my motoring career. It's only now I've been able to bring myself to open the thing.

She's done exactly what I expected she would. She has suggested we meet to discuss how I would go about procuring a licence. It seems she did not notice anything… untoward about my letter… But why do I have this nagging image in my mind of me signing off my note in such a …

Oh, it's too embarrassing! And she's probably too polite to draw attention to it. Unless she's waiting for a face-to-face meeting in which to bring the matter to light? Aargh!

Feel like I should ignore it. Pretend her owl went astray or something. Shot myself in the foot, though, haven't I? Can hardly say no when it was I who initiated the thing in the first place.

Ugh.

Oh fuck:

Double Potions with the first years next.

Bah.

Sunday 4th December

11:00 — Office.

There we go! Have replied to say I shall be in the Leaky Cauldron on Saturday afternoon.

Clearly am coward though, for have given myself a week's grace in which to prepare for potential disaster.

Oh God.

What a nightmare. Why do I do these things to myself? Weasley was right; think I would have learned my lesson by now, wouldn't you?

Tuesday 6th December

23:20 — Dungeons; slightly squiffy.

Have been back at teaching for a month, and yet, it feels far less than that. Am unused to my days passing so quickly, it seems.

Minerva was right. I can teach Potions with my eyes closed. I could easily fall back into the old routine, and it would answer all of my problems with regard to my employment situation. I'm sure Horace would gladly step aside if I decided I wanted the position permanently.

Because, Hogwarts is definitely not the same as I remember it. Seems to be a real change in the air. Can't quite put my finger on it; I'm unsure as to its origin. Is it the product of external influence? Is it the result of the shadow of Voldemort having lifted? Is it the effect of Minerva's running of the school? Is the change to do with a new generation of children?

Or is it to do with me? Am I the one who has changed?

What a terrifying thought.

I'm not sure there was ever a time before when I stood in my classroom with nothing else on my mind other than where I've put my quill, or what I hope will be on for lunch in the Great Hall.

Can appreciate the irony of me finding a moment's respite in this place, above all others. And actually, I feel like I've proven something to myself in coming back here and, for a lack of a better word, enjoying it.

This is definitely not me having some ridiculous epiphany about belonging forever more at Hogwarts, or even discovering a hitherto hidden love for teaching. That's not it at all.

Just … I can remember how I was during those… Potter years. The point, I feel, is that despite the recent months—the dwelling on my uselessness and hopelessness in many areas of life—my life has improved. Compared to what it once was, anyway.

Am fully prepared to accept I shall always be fundamentally hopeless. Life has made me so and it is surely very late in the day to change my ways now. But maybe that's all right. Have been reading back through this infernal diary, what with it being nearly a twelve-month since I started keeping it. What strikes me is that I was willing to make an effort, for crying out loud!

I made an effort! When have I ever done that before? Dare I say it, I even had some self-belief. Of course, that delusion soon came swiftly crashing down around my ears but…

At least I put myself in the position to find that out. That's the important thing, in my view.

My God. This entry reads suspiciously like positive thinking… Must be coming down with something…

Thursday 8th December

19:00 — Staff room.

Only one more day until I have to go to the Leaky and meet Granger. Feel a bit sick thinking about it, really.

Minerva has come up with a ridiculous idea to hold a big Christmas party in the Great Hall once the majority of children have buggered off home. What's wrong with having the staff party in the Three Broomsticks?

Served us well enough for the sixteen years I was a teacher.

Fuck. Was I really a teacher for sixteen years? No bloody wonder I can't get out of the habit…

Saturday 10th December

21:00 — Staff room. Pissed off in the extreme.

Am not sure whether to say today has been a good or bad day. Have cause to say both are applicable. A wand to my head, I'd plump for very bad, however.

It was nearing midday and I was sat in the staff room, speed-reading through some essays, trying to calm my mind before my rendezvous at the Leaky. It was a nice moment of peace and quiet. Filius was reading; Pomona was also marking work; even Sibyl was managing not to talk to herself…

And then the illusion was shattered. Shattered into tiny bloody smithereens.

Minerva comes into the room, clears her throat, and says, most bemusedly: 'Er, Severus? Hermione Granger has asked me to tell you to forget the Leaky Cauldron, and that… she's waiting outside… with the car…'

I froze over the essay I was reading, not entirely sure I had heard correctly. Outside? She was outside? As in outside the castle?

Forced myself into action, making a show of tidying up my papers and shutting my inkwell and determinedly ignoring the eyes following my every move.

'Right,' I said coolly, getting to my feet and making for the door, most definitely not making eye contact with anyone.

Was only when I was in the corridor that I allowed the full cringe to sweep through me.

What was she doing bringing the car here? I wasn't ready for a lesson! I didn't want one! It was just a front! A stupid, booze-driven front for something else entirely!

And I'd forgotten most of what I'd taught myself during that ill-fated foray into driving. She is a crafty know-it-all; lulling me into one situation and then doing an abtupt volte face when I least expect it!

Pushed my way through the doors, praying that the shit weather that blights this part of the country would be in evidence today and the grounds would, subsequently, be free of kids.

The sun was out.

And Granger had already attracted an audience. Does anything ever go my way?

Luckily, a few swift glares from me and the kids soon began to scarper.

'Sorry… Hope you don't mind me turning up like this,' she said as I closed the gates behind me.

Wisely, I said nothing.

'What happened to "doing things properly"?' I asked instead.

'Well… I won't tell if you won't.'

She got into the car, into the driving seat (thank God) and I, somewhat apprehensively, got into the passenger side. Note to self: robes aren't practical within the confines of a car—mine got jammed in the door. Twice.

'I'll drive us out of Hogsmeade, to somewhere a bit quieter.'

Lovely.

It was hard to miss the horrified looks we received passing through the Hogsmeade. 'Well done, Granger, it's quite a feat to offend a whole village in one go.'

'Oops,' she remarked, not very apologetically, in my view.

A meeting. A meeting in a pub; that is what I had braced myself for. Not a jaunt through the mountains in her car. However, it soon become clear that participation on my part was not entirely compulsory, for she seemed perfectly happy to chatter on non-stop about driving. I was told in brisk, know-it-all tones, that we were on a "single-track country road" where the speed limit was fifty miles per hour, which we knew because the "road signs tells us so."

"Road signs are very important, and may warn, advise, or give orders…"

"I'm using my mirrors all the time blah, blah, blah…'

I nodded at intervals to show I was listening, but was only a whisker away from casting Silencio on her.

Wonder if she realises she's missed her vocation in life?

Thankfully, after a time, she pulled over and so ended her lecture.

'Do you have a Muggle birth certificate? ' she asked briskly, pulling out a sheaf of papers.

'Yes... ' Highly doubt I still have it in my possession, though.

'Good. You 'll need to fill out this form to get a licence.'

She shoved the paperwork over to me and I took it, knowing that I wouldn't fill it in. Not unless I get desperate enough, anyway.

'So, any particular reason you 've decided you want to go the whole hog?'

Ha. I wonder what her reaction would have been if I'd told her the truth? Terror, perhaps? Maybe she already knows? Still can't remember what I put in that note. In light of that remembrance, I sought to deflect all attention away from any possibility that she was the reason.

'Handy skill to have, isn 't it? And… ah, it was the one thing my father always wished to teach me, but never had the chance to…'

'Oh, I see. ' She smiled gently and nodded.

Oh dear. If I wasn't already destined for hell, then I 'm certainly headed there now.

'Well, let's swap over, then.'

'Wonderful, ' I managed to say, only a little bit uneasily, feeling like I was digging myself into somewhere I didn't want to be. Got out of the car with only one thought ringing in my head: why can't I be like any normal person?

Why?

Was stuck behind the wheel of a car, not really wanting to be there, with no idea of what I was doing, and all because I… am hankering after something silly.

In hindsight, am rather glad that I had something practical to concentrate on. Concentrating on not killing us both meant I didn't have to waste thoughts on surmising what she might be doing or thinking. Ugh.

The car rather lurched forward when I got it going.

'You had the clutch a bit too far above the bite,' she stated, very helpfully.

I felt there and then that this was never going to work. Her telling me what to do… Was only going to end in tears. I resolved not to give her further reason to correct me. We maintained a slow speed, which I thought was fine considering the road was deserted and would likely remain so.

It was smooth going, until she said: 'Shall we try a little bit faster? Listen to what the engine is telling you.'

Bit my lip then; hard.

Unfortunately, the car made an alarming noise when I changed gear.

'No, no, that's fifth, not third!'

My God! My God!

And then, once that crisis was dealt with, she bloody reached over and grabbed the steering wheel!

'What—?'

'Best to keep to our side of the road.'

She was the one who said it was a bloody single-track road!

It wasn't working. It was almost as bad as having my father in the car with me. But at least I was able to vent my irritation with him around. Can't imagine Granger would be very happy if I started snapping at her. Was wondering how on earth I was going to keep a lid on my annoyance, when she managed to annihilate it with one innocent enquiry.

'Are you spending Christmas at Hogwarts? ' she asked suddenly.

Was a bit taken aback by this non-sequitur. 'Am I hanging around for the nauseating merriment and frivolity, you mean?' Not bloody likely. Hate Christmas…bleurgh…

'Well, we 've all received invites from Minerva about the bash she's having in the Great Hall…'

Oh God. Hadn't realised Minerva was inviting outsiders! 'Er, expect I shall have to show my face at some point…'

When did I become so pathetic? Or more pathetic, rather; have always been pretty feeble with regard to matters of the heart, after all.

'Well, if you don 't want to…'

I sensed her shrug her shoulders out of the corner of my eye, and I glanced quickly at her. The expression she wore reminded of how she 'd been all those months ago when she appeared to disapprove of everything I said and did.

'No one's going to force you,' she commented tightly. 'Slow down a bit; you're doing sixty.'

Suppose I did sound rather curmudgeonly. Great. Have presented myself to her as an old curmudgeon.

In for a penny …

'Do I look like someone who generally enjoys good cheer? ' Might as well be honest with her. Besides, you only have to look at me to see at which end of the happy spectrum I sit.

She seemed to concede a little, then. 'Not even when it's chemically induced?'

'I do find myself in such conditions slightly more … malleable, shall we say?'

'Malleable? Oh now, I have trouble believing you are ever malleable.'

Well, it was nice of her to say so, but, unfortunately, I do have the capacity for malleability and, sometimes, drink doesn 't even come into it (not something I'm proud of, by any means).

Eager to abandon all talk of my potential for pliancy, I was casting my mind around for another topic of conversation, when, to my horror, something bounded quickly into the road up ahead.

Let's just say I've got my emergency stop down to a fine art.

When I realised I was staring through the windscreen at Potter's Patronus—that God-awful, maddening, uncomfortable connotation engendering Patronus—I wished I'd just driven right through it, stopped, and then reversed back through it for good measure.

The… thing came right up to Granger's side of the car and she unwound the window. My blood was suddenly so cold in my veins that I barely registered Potter's voice saying, 'Hermione! Ron's been really badly hurt in a Quidditch match! Come to St. Mungo's when you can!'

She put a hand to her mouth, before fumbling with getting the door open. 'God… Sorry, Severus, um, I'm going to have to go… Will you be all right to Apparate back?'

At the time, I just nodded, slightly dazed. Now I'm thinking, well of course I was bloody all right to Apparate back! What does she think I am? Does she think I was born yesterday?

I got out of the car and she spelled it to shrink, shoving it in her pocket, before uttering a quick 'Sorry,' again and then disappearing. I just stood in the road, wishing I had a brick wall I could repeatedly hit my head against.

It's one bloody nil to Weasley, then.

Bet the bastard knew Granger was coming to meet me today and threw himself off his broom on purpose.

Not a bad idea, really. Be worth shattering a few bones when she comes running in, worried, concerned, and forgetting all of the crap because all she really cares about is that he could have died.

It 's very clever. Nice one, Weasley; fucking nice one.

Bastard.

Monday 12th December

10:23 — Potions.

Read the Daily Prophet this morning and they seemed to suggest that Weasley's condition was not so very serious at all. A nasty fall resulting in broken bones and a severe concussion—that's all.

Hmm …

Bet he 's milking it. Pasty-faced bastard.

Wednesday 14th December

23:20 — Bed.

Been thinking about Granger (my quill has pierced the parchment, so reluctant was my hand to write that sentence!).

It 's just my utter misfortune that the first feeling of anything I develop for another person is for someone who could be my daughter. Even worse, someone who was once my student.

A double whammy, indeed. Could list further complications —it would be a lengthy one—but the two I have already mentioned are the foremost. Why couldn't I have been attracted to Lucinda in the same way?

Why? Because it would have been too damn simple and I can 't do anything the easy way.

Am being completely realistic and pragmatic when I say the idea any feeling on my part could be reciprocated is just … laughable. Indeed, I'm fully prepared to laugh at it myself.

The irony, of course, is that I decided I could never get over myself enough to be interested in another person. I decided I'd never be able to reveal enough of myself.

But I seem to have done it without realising.

What an idiot.

What to do? I should probably stay away from her, lest I get into an even more precarious predicament.

And yet … Can 't believe I am remotely contemplating this idea, because I know it is, must be, doomed to spectacular failure…

The idea, that is, of pursuing her.

I know precisely nothing about pursuing women, so the reality of what I eventually do will probably resemble nothing like pursuing … And as I said, the idea that I will be successful in any way shape or form is laughable. But not, a little voice tells me, entirely impossible.

And what the fuck have I got to lose?

My dignity? That ship has sailed time and again; once more isn't going to kill me. My pride? Now, there's a joke; my pride has been battered against the rocks many a time.

Basically, have nothing to lose. And if I fail spectacularly —get humiliated beyond belief—shall simply have to emigrate to a distant land. Or Obliviate myself.

This written posturing is all well and good, of course. When it comes to putting this philosophy into practice, I know I shall probably quail and shy away from ever carrying it through. It's that old lack of self-belief chestnut again.

Give me an obscure potion recipe and I wouldn 't even blink.

But anything personal … Ugh.

The test shall have to be this Christmas party. There will be no better opportunity for me to see how the land lies.

Still… what's the betting she's already reunited with Weasley over his smashed up face and legs?

00:05

Maybe I should throw myself off a broom, or under a herd of Hippogriffs, and see who turns up at my bedside?

00:10

Better not—don't fancy waking up to an empty room.

Friday 16th December

1:30

Can't sleep.

Humph.

Monday 19th December

Lessons are nearly over for Christmas and so will end my short teaching stint. Don't really know if Horace will be fit enough to return to duty come January, but well, that's not my problem.

Minerva asked me if I was planning on staying for the party on Friday and for the festivities in general. Despite the fact my decision to stay was already made, I had to tell her no. Had to tell her I'd rather book into Azkaban for a week than stay in the castle for Christmas, because anything else would surely have been too out of character for me.

Don't want to worry her, do I?

It was a dangerous game for me to play, because I was relying on Minerva's predictability and the very strong odds of her trying to persuade me to stay. But for one terrifying moment, I thought she was going to accept my grumpiness and leave me with a significant amount of egg on my face.

Luckily, she launched into rant about my "ungrateful and unfathomably miserable ways," telling me that she wishes for once in my life I would just "do what I'm told," otherwise, next year, she's not going to waste her breath on me and I can spend Christmas "doing whatever it is grouchy old bores do to amuse themselves".

Wasn't offended. It's the same rant I receive every year.

'Oh calm down, woman!' I exclaimed. 'You're enough to drive a man mental! I'll bloody well come to your poxy party if it'll shut you up!'

Ha!

And now she'll go and spread to everyone else how difficult I am and how she had to shout at me to get me to see reason.

Couldn't have worked out better, really.

19:00

Bet after all this palaver Granger won't even turn up. Or if she does, she'll have Weasley hanging off her arm like some unsightly parasite.

Ugh.

Wednesday 21st December

03:30

Gah! Can't sleep again!

What's wrong with me?

Actually, I really don't want to know.

Friday 23rd December (The Dreaded Day)

20:30 — Staff Room. Hiding from the party in the Great Hall.

Well, that's it then. I officially give up and nothing shall ever convince me to do otherwise. This has to be one in a very long line of utterly shit days in my life.

Maybe I should see if Minerva can give me a permanent position here. That way, I can live out the rest of my days in this castle with no other need for anything else in my life. Might as well fester away down in these dungeons until the time comes for them to bring me out in a box.

Anyway, I am come to the staff room to escape the nauseating merriment and cheer in the Great Hall. And more pressingly, to drown my not inconsiderable sorrows. Was only there for two hours before it all went tits up. Typical.

I sensed this evening was never going to be a great one, but it became a total fucking write-off the moment I decided to step outside for a breath of fresh air. For who should I have encountered whilst I stood at the top of the steps? Granger. She was standing some feet away talking to Potter's wife, and they both had their backs to me.

Nothing noteworthy about that spectacle, except, after a moment, I came to understand that they were discussing me.

'I haven 't been watching him,' Granger was hissing in annoyance.

'You have. '

'You 're wrong. I've barely noticed him all evening, in fact.'

'Oh, that 's a laugh!' exclaimed Potter's wife. 'Do you recall the first thing you said on entering the hall tonight?'

'That was nothing! A mere observation!' countered Granger defiantly.

Naturally, I was mildly intrigued as to what this "mere observation" might have entailed.

'What about that near apoplectic fit you had when McGonagall came over and asked for our assistance in finding a "lovely Madame for Severus"!'

I'm going to positively wring Minerva's neck. Interfering old bag.

However, I am prepared to think Ginevra was barking up the wrong tree, simply because I have seen hardly anything of Granger all night. Clearly, she did turn up, as did Weasley, but I was heartened to note they did not arrive together. What I wasn't heartened to note, on the other hand, was that mine wasn't the only head she turned with regard to how she was… presented. If I, a man seemingly incapable of ever getting animated (even solely in thought), looked at her and felt a hundred and one overblown adjectives spring to mind, then Merlin only knows what the others were thinking.

Bah.

She pranced and danced about with several people, but she's not turned in my direction once. Sad thing is, I think I would have agreed to a dance with her. Very sad thing is, I probably would have agreed to a bloody tango, or a Viennese waltz, or a rumba, or anything. And I don't even know what a rumba is, but I would have given it a go, had she asked (bit of exaggeration, there, of course, but the sentiment remains the same).

'Personally, I think you might be well in there, you know,' Ginevra carried on, unperturbed. 'I didn't tell you I caught him having a go at Ron during Al's party, did I? It's rather suggestive, in hindsight. Maybe you should have a crack at him, if you feel—'

Can't say this didn't shock me. Wasn't the only one, either—Granger seemed aghast.

'Gin! Must you speak like that? I don't want a crack at Professor Snape! He's old enough to be my father!'

I nearly choked on air.

So there they were; the dreaded, dreaded words at long last. Can't say I was truly surprised to hear them. Not as if I haven't thought them myself, what with all this talk about Potter and father figures. I just hoped she…

Oh God.

Have I acquired two surrogate children?

But Granger already has a father, doesn't she? Please God let Granger have a father…

Well, at least my humiliation can remain my own. Potter's wife has done me a favour in that I now know there is nothing to be gained where Granger is concerned. She's saved me from making a right sorry prick of myself. Only I need ever know how much of a stupid man I am—how I have become the type of man I am apt to scorn; weak, pathetic and foolish.

What happened to any sense I once had?

Ugh; maybe Granger was right to see something of a lecherous old dinosaur in me. She always was perceptive.

I give up. I hold my hands up and I give up.

21:30 — Dungeons. Wishing I was someone else.

Oh my good Lord.

Oh my good Lord.

What the hell have I done? What the hell has she done?

In the space of an hour, things have deteriorated at an alarming rate!

Following the completion of the previous entry, it seems a combination of the booze, the depression, the quiet of the staff room, and my recent bout of insomnia conspired to send me into a slumber! I know this because after an indeterminate amount of time, I felt my eyes spring open, only to find my head resting on my arms on the tabletop. If that wasn 't bad enough, I could sense instinctively that I was no longer alone in the room.

I sat up immediately, flinching inwardly when I saw who was sitting in the chair next to mine, watching me calmly. It was her; Granger.

Before I could say anything, however, my eyes drifted to the table and my heart clenched in terror when I saw that I had left my diary, this diary, open! It was open on the page I had last written on! Open for all and sundry to see! Open while I forgot every ounce of stealth and secrecy I ever learned and fell asleep in a public setting!

I thought I might suddenly have a heart attack. The possibility of a security breach when one keeps such a record as this has to always be heeded, but I never thought I would suffer a lapse as this. The thought that anyone might read the words that I've written… I'm not being melodramatic when I say it could finish me off once and for all.

I don 't know how long I stared at the open book, my heart beating hard with terror. I forced myself to look where she was sitting, and her unusually grave expression meant nothing to me as I only thought to the worst scenario imaginable.

'Have you … read this?' I asked hoarsely, looking towards my diary.

How I dreaded her answer! More than that, I feared what I might do if she replied in the affirmative.

She stirred. 'No… I—'

I snatched my hand out and grasped the diary towards me, snapping it shut and gripping it tightly in my hand so that my nails dug into the binding.

'Tell me the truth!' I hissed, blood pounding my ears.

No one may imagine the crushing sense of pain and embarrassment I felt when I saw her lean forward in what I took to be a guilty, entreating gesture.

'Look, I'm sorry, I did read what was on the open page, but—'

I flew to my feet, a disembodied voice in my head repeatedly shouting 'Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!'

She'd helped herself to strictly classified information!

I wondered what the hell I was going to do to get out of this mess. Would she believe me if I claimed to be under Imperio? The victim of a Confundus charm? The unwitting recipient of a Befuddling draught? Could I tell her I've been brewing all day and my brain has been temporarily addled by noxious fumes?

All these excuses and more passed through my mind, one after the other, but I knew they were all futile.

'I swear it was just that open page,' she pressed. 'It was an accident really, I didn't know what it was—'

'An accident?' I spat. And why did she think it was all right that she had only seen the one page? That page was one of the bloody worst out of the whole thing!

'May I remind you that I did not leave the book open and in full view of anyone who might happen upon it?'

Oh, here was the defensiveness, then. Yes; all my bloody fault. What was she even doing in the staff room, I wondered. Last I checked she was a barrister, not a bloody teacher. She had no business roaming the castle at will!

I was contemplating whether she might be amenable to a mild Obliviate when she abruptly told me to "sit down".

Like hell was I going to "sit down" at her behest after what she had just discovered about me! I'd never be able to look her in the eye again!

Instead, I made for the door.

She jumped up with an exclamation. 'No! Wait! I want to say something!'

'Well, I don't want to hear it!'

'You're not pathetic and foolish,' she stated in a small voice.

I paused at the door, positively struck dumb by the fact she was now daring to quote pieces of my diary back to me! Who knew she had such a callous streak in her?

'Nor do I think you a lecherous, um … dinosaur.'

Christ almighty! Was she hoping to kill me through sheer embarrassment and humiliation? I wrenched open the door, half blind with shame and confusion.

'I wasn't being entirely honest with Ginny earlier, when you overheard us!'

That caught my attention and I hesitated. She took advantage of my indecision to hurry forward and push the door shut again. She only looked at me briefly before scurrying away to drink from a wine glass she had evidently brought with her from the hall. I was jealous of that one sip; at that moment I could have done with a whole bottle to swig from … and then some.

'I wasn't being entirely honest with Ginny,' she repeated earnestly, looking at me as if she were about to sentenced to death at any moment. 'In fact, I was a little unfair to her, because her observations were, mostly, on the… mark.'

Oh God. It was worse than I had originally considered. She did like me, but she was too embarrassed to acknowledge it!

'I was a bit embarrassed, you see …'

! ! ! !

Aargh! There! She was admitting it to my face!

'Oh lovely, Granger. Thanks for that. Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! Why don't you take your shame elsewhere, eh? And I'll take what remains of my perennially tattered ego and do the same!'

Her expression darkened considerably. 'I didn't mean it like that! I was embarrassed because I felt foolish! Not everything is about you, you know. I couldn't possibly feel pathetic, could I? Oh no; only self-obsessed men with their precious, ridiculously fragile egos have the right to self-doubt!'

Well, that told me, didn 't it? Was beginning to think I might have made a terrible error in judgement. This was the second time I had witnessed a heated outburst with regard to men from her.

'Is your misandry something I should be concerned about, Granger?'

A sheepish smile appeared on her face. 'I don't hate men.'

'Could have fooled me, ' I muttered, moving back into the room and sitting in one of the armchairs. I could see things were not quite as I imagined them; could see that my embarrassment might not have to be so acute, and that allowed me to feel less tense.

Was still bloody tense, mind.

'It seemed unlikely … How was I supposed to know you were… interested?' she questioned roughly.

I scoffed to myself, which was a wrong move, for I saw her bridle out of the corner of my eye. If Weasley could work out what I was about, then surely Hermione brainy-guts Granger could work it out too? When the hell am I going to drive a car, eh? I wanted to shout at her.

It wasn't going as I'd imagined it might. And, of course, I had secretly imagined how a resolution might come about, but transcribing those scenes into words is just going too far for me.

Think I was perturbed, really, by it all. Think, in hindsight, I might have preferred to continue in my misery of earlier, because at least that is familiar territory. More than that, there was something telling me this whole thing was ridiculous.

Even she appeared discontent.

'Perhaps we should forget this,' I found myself saying.

'Why?'

'I'm old enough to be your father, in case you'd forgotten?' Forgotten your own bloody comment!

She closed her eyes, but couldn 't say anything for, at that moment, the door opened and in walked Pomona, who flinched upon spotting us.

'Oh, sorry,' she said. 'I was just looking for my—'

'Never mind; I was just leaving.'

And as smooth as you like, I got up and left. Aargh! I'm such a prick! I strolled back to the dungeons as if nothing had happened. When I got inside my rooms, however, I fell apart.

Well, I didn 't really. What actually happened was that I collapsed into my chair and Summoned my fire whisky, but it amounts to the same thing. It's always pretty desperate when I don't even bother with a glass.

I stopped before I became irretrievably pissed, because I wanted to write this all down. I wanted to mark down the fact that I am a martyr to myself. Have cut off my nose to spite my face, haven't I?

Why do I do these things?

Am masochist. Must be.

For crying out loud, she practically told me she has … feelings for me. Isn't that what I always wanted?

No. Think I almost enjoyed the idea of my having unrequited feelings for her. I enjoyed believing myself to be pathetic, useless, and un-likeable. Anything else would be un-chartered territory. Anything else would point to the fact that I don't even know myself—don't really know how others see me.

And it's this stumbling block that probably makes me inadequate, rather than other failing I perceive myself as having. Have hated myself for so long, I can't do anything but look for justification as to my being right to do so.

What is she doing now? She's probably washed her hands of me. She's probably thinking, 'Fuck him; I can do better than that miserable fart!'

Well, she would be right.

Perhaps she'll have an epiphany when she goes back into the hall and sees Weasley…

Oh God. Maybe she'll throw herself at him because I've brushed her off like a speck of dust? I know Weasley wouldn't need much coercion.

It can't happen. I like her. Fact. I don't want her to go back to Weasley, or anyone else, for that matter. Fact.

Where's my self-belief? Where's my self-esteem? There must be some I can muster together…

Feel the fear and do it anyway! Isn 't that what those self-help books teach? I can do that. Have done that, many times in the past. She's just Hermione Granger. She's all but read my entire diary and I'm still standing!

I, Severus Tobias Snape, am going to face myself in the mirror and say, most confidently, that I like myself.

No good. Can 't. Still can't say it. Oh well, nothing I can do about that now. Shall have to draw on other reserves of self-worth.

And no one provides that better than old Ogden, in my opinion.

If I don 't go back up there and pull her off Weasley and tell her that, though I am a prick, I would still like to have a chance, I will regret it for the rest of my sorry life. A chance is all I will ask; yes, that is reasonable enough.

Am going.

Wait … Doubts are already kicking in…

No. Will go.

00:40 — Dungeons.

So I went.

The party was still ticking over when I edged back into the hall. I scanned the scene, looking for Weasley's ginger profile, and by extension, Granger's bushy head. I had my hand around my wand, fully prepared to duel, should Weasley want to take it that far. Part of me hoped he would; haven't had a good duel in ages.

Except … I spotted Weasley and she was nowhere near him. In actual fact, she wasn't anywhere that I could see. Shit.

My immediate instinct was that she'd buggered off home.

However, it seemed that my luck on this night was beginning to change slightly. Weasley, I noticed, started hobbling on his crutches towards his sister, saying loudly, 'Say, Gin! Did I just see Hermione leave? She looked a bit pissed off.'

I sidled as near to Ginevra as I could, in order to eavesdrop.

'She said she wanted to be on her own for a bit. '

Weasley frowned. 'But where did she go?'

'She's still in the castle, somewhere. I think, ah… Remember where she used to go and read when we were in school? Try there, perhaps.'

Weasley nodded. 'Oh yeah, I remember.'

It was like they knew I was listening, because could they have been more cryptic? It was frustrating, as I could have easily got to wherever she was hiding before Weasley, what with him doing his wounded soldier act.

It was not to be, though. Instead, I was going to have to employ all of my stealth and cunning and follow Weasley to this unknown destination.

So I did.

The hallways were dimly lit and it was easy enough to stay in the shadows whilst pursuing the idiot in front of me. The noise of his crutches nicely blocked out any possibility of my being heard. My God was it slow-going, though. I nearly gave up completely when he started hauling himself up the Grand staircase, fearing that by the time we reached Granger it'd be next Christmas. Luckily, he only went up to the first floor, and so I continued onwards.

When we reached the Transfiguration hallway, I had a feeling as to where we might be headed. Especially as, up ahead, Weasley adjusted his crutches and ambled forward with a noticeably renewed vigour (and only a slight wheeze).

He had to be aiming for the Transfiguration courtyard. He was only a few paces shy of stepping into the cloisters when I pulled out my wand and, ah, Petrificus Totalus'd him.

There was a soft thump as he hit the floor and I used my wand to muffle the clatter of his crutches against the flagstones. Hurrying forward, I dragged him from the middle of the hallway and put him over to the side, patting his shoulder genially.

'Cheers Wanker—I mean Weasley.'

Told myself I'd worry about the consequences later.

Was just a man looking for a chance —who could blame me for that?

Hopefully not Granger.

So, I stepped into the courtyard and lo, there she was. It was drizzling with rain slightly and I frowned to myself, thinking she might have picked a better spot for this to unfold. I proceeded to clear my throat, fully prepared to consider this would likely be the only opportunity I'd have. For one thing, I'll probably never be that perfect balance of drunk and sober ever again.

'Well … I've been thinking,' I began, a bit awkwardly, 'and it strikes me the most important detail is that I am not… your father; have never been your father; and, ah, never will be… your father.'

She spun around, looking at me as if she thought me slightly mad. Think she might be right, actually. The fact I'm not her father is hardly the most romantic of reasons for her to take me on, is it?

She surveyed me for a moment, before frowning. 'Look, if the age difference is going to bother you that much, then maybe we should forget about it. I've had enough crap from men to last me a lifetime.'

Not what I wanted to hear!

'If this goes anywhere, I don't want you, six months down the line, to have some typically male identity crisis over the fact you're seeing a younger woman and then bugger off to go and nurse some inferiority complex—'

'You do hate men.'

Maybe she should consider batting for the other side if men annoy her so much. I very nearly suggested it, but managed to quash the urge, feeling that, knowing my luck, she would actually think it a wonderful idea.

However, she laughed softly. 'I don't hate men,' she repeated. 'My experience of them has just left me a little bit defensive, I suppose.'

Little bit?

'I'm confident I can look after you better than Weasley ever did.'

Will there ever come a time when I shall not cringe in terror at anything remotely sentimental in nature? Because, Merlin, I nearly curled up and died when those words left my mouth.

They were daring words, and they were more or less true. Well, sort of; I'm not that confident. And when you consider how unclear my prospects are at the moment, she might have to chip in now and again and look after me.

'What makes you think I need looking after?'

There was a dry smile on her face, and that's why I replied in my most obnoxious voice: 'Isn't that what all women want?' Oh my …! Her expression was so outraged! Ha!

'Are you a chauvinist in your spare time? '

'Only as much as you are a misandrist. '

A smile appeared around her mouth and she appeared to consider for a moment. 'Good answer… In that case, I shan't object to having dinner with you, next week.' She smiled challengingly, as if daring me to object. Why the fuck would I want to object? She's the one who could probably do better.

She patted me on the arm as she passed me to go inside, the rain having now become a little heavier. Fuck the rain. I hurried after her, mainly because I didn 't want her to discover Weasley's stricken form yet. 'Er, dinner, yes, well, I shall look forward to it.'

Don 't think I will, really. Have a feeling I will mess it up and we'll have a crap night she'll want to forget. Plus, when she finds Weasley, she might want to throw me over out of principle. She can be a bit funny about propriety, when she wants to be, I've learnt.

'Indeed, I'm sure I shall have trouble waiting even that long.'

If ever I have said the right thing …!

She stopped in her tracks and appeared to blush slightly. 'Oh,' she said, suddenly rather diffidently, unable to meet my eye.

I used the opportunity to judge a different exit that would avoid Weasley, but there was no plausible alternative. If I started leading her the long way back to the hall, through all the darkened hallways and staircases, and considering what I'd only just said to her, she'd probably become a bit disturbed as to my intentions.

Even though my intentions are always honourable…

Suddenly, out of nowhere, there were lips on my cheek and I nearly flinched away with a yelp, but I just (only just) managed to contain myself and my surprise without her noticing it.

She's going to have to realise it'll be a while before I won't need preparation for any… sudden movements on her part.

'There's something for you to be going on with, then,' she commented brightly.

And then, to my dismay, she carried on walking, saying that we should get back before we got drenched. I thought I might possibly get away with it. I thought she might not even see Weasley lying in the shadows. I thought…

But alas … the silly girl stumbled over one of his crutches.

'Ron? What the hell…?' She hovered a Lumos charm over him and looked at me in shock. 'Who would do…? Oh God! It was you, again, wasn't it?'

I had to summon every ounce of my woefully underdeveloped charm that I possess. Was hard, let me tell you.

'Gr … Hermione,' I began. 'My mind was made up—how could I allow anything else get in the way?' I aimed for a smouldering look, but of course, I have no idea how to pull that off. Luckily, I think the half-light helped me in that regard.

'And would you have wanted me to? ' I asked quietly, reaching out to smooth some of her hair behind her shoulder.

! ! ! !

Beginning to think I have hidden depths —hitherto untapped!

Was chuffed to see she looked slightly thrown, and the 'No' she uttered was just right—a perfect balance of reluctance and sincerity. Humbled any inner narcissism over the success of my machinations, anyway.

She freed Weasley and he hauled himself upright, looking as furious as I have ever seen him.

'You fucking prick!' he bellowed indignantly. 'What do you think you're playing at?' He goggled at me for a moment. 'Do you know what, Hermione? This stupid git fancies you, and—'

I put my hand on Granger's shoulder. 'No hard feelings, eh, Weasley?'

Weasley's anger fell away to be replaced by an all consuming shock, which consisted of him opening and closing his mouth several times.

'Leave it be, Ron,' said Granger diplomatically, and I followed her as she walked away, half expecting Weasley to launch a curse at my back, but nothing materialised. Shame really; I had a volley of curses on the tip of my tongue, just itching for the go-ahead.

We walked in silence for a time, until she said: 'I have one request; will you please stop hexing my ex-husband?'

Ha! As if!

I scowled. 'Not like he was hurt—either time.' Think I have showed exemplary restraint compared to what I could have thrown at him. Anyway, it's her stupid fault for having an ex-husband in the first place. Hate even more that it's Weasley.

'I can say that I shall not hex him unprovoked. Will that do? '

'Interesting caveat; suppose I can live with it. For now. '

She was smiling, despite her tone, and I nearly smiled back! (nearly).

Something more pressing was bothering me, though. The fact that I had secured an invitation to dinner with her was sinking in. Oh God. Have I emerged triumphant? Have I? For the first time in my life? What an awful thought! Where the fuck do I go from here?

I used all of my mental capacity to block out such thoughts and put them in the category of I'll worry about it later!

We returned to the hall where things were still in full swing, and I, it has to be said, was at a little bit of a loss. Was I supposed to stay with her? Did she want me to bugger off now that an arrangement had been made? What was I supposed to do?

And the worst thing is, I know these kind of questions are only going to plague me even more as things progress (if they progress).

'Shall we dance?' she suddenly asked, turning to me expectantly, while I groaned inwardly. 'I seem to recall you were willing give anything a go as long as I asked…' She trailed off laughing (no doubt laughing at my horrified expression). 'Let's see,' she continued. 'How are you at a quick-step?'

'Ha ha. I'm not dancing.'

How long is she going to tease me about my diary? It's a hugely sensitive spot that I'm not sure can take much prodding!

I folded my arms and looked around the room. There was no sign of a return from Weasley. Ginevra, I noticed, was not so surreptitiously spying on us, though. Nosey bint.

'I seem to recall,' came the voice of my companion again, 'I seem to recall quite clearly, in fact, that you danced with your… receptionist.'

Ouch. My receptionist? Her claws aren't far beneath the surface, are they?

'Your point? '

She sidled nearer. 'How am I supposed to feel knowing you would dance with her, but not with me?'

I had a suitably sarky comment ready, but unfortunately, she chose that moment to put her hand in mine and I experienced a sudden mental block. Merlin! Felt like her hand was on fire!

'Suppose, ah, suppose it would be rather ungallant of me. '

'My thoughts exactly! Besides, you must have had enough booze to get you going by now. '

Nope; not nearly enough…

Nevertheless, found myself in the throng of people before I could run for the hills, with one hand in her hers and the other around her waist (not sure how it got there, to be honest. I certainly didn't put it there; I know that much). In contrast to the last time I found myself in this position, and despite my detestation of any kind of public spectacle, I felt ridiculously light of heart. I was not removed from the situation this time, but very much caught up in every little sight and sound and touch and…

01:15

(Just took a little break from writing because my grammar was in danger of becoming frightfully extravagant. Am now composed again).

Was enjoying myself. There. That's prosaic enough and very much all I shall say on the subject.

Except … there was nothing prosaic whatsoever about the experience… Even the music was inspiring—

Oh fuck. Get a grip, Snape. We were just shuffling round and round in circle! That's the size of it!

She seemed to like it when I flung her about in a spin, though; never mind that she tripped over my feet halfway through. She burst into subsequent peals of laughter. In hindsight, think she was a bit pissed, to be frank. Something had gone to head, anyway.

'I can't dance properly, either!' she said joyfully.

Was offended by the implication. I thought I 'd been doing all right, but apparently not.

'So, I needn't worry about any requests for a tango, then,' I muttered dryly, watching a couple on the opposite side poncing about like they were in a ballroom and not at a rather rowdy Christmas party.

To my surprise, her laughter fizzled out and she stopped moving. There was an air of almost serious contemplation to her, and unfortunately, I felt I knew what she was thinking about—this blasted diary. Probably was feeling sorry for me and my passages of self-pity.

Either that, or I thought she might do a Pomona and request to know what I 'd written about her. Maybe she'd even become paranoid about it… I know she can be curious, almost to a fault.

'No,' she said quietly, smiling. 'No tango. The world isn't ready for that, yet; don't you agree?'

Never will be, either, if I have anything to do with it.

I simply nodded, suddenly worrying again about this dinner we were to have. Where will we go? What will we talk about? What will be expected of me? Gah!

The 'dancing' seemed to have fizzled out by then, and we were just standing there. But whilst I was fighting off a mild panic attack and contemplating Summoning a steadying whisky to hand, her thoughts were evidently elsewhere.

'Don't think I didn't see you, ah… kiss your receptionist, as well.'

! ! ! !

'You been spying on me?' Don't ask as to the lengths I had to go in order to find my voice—it was hiding in my boots, somewhere.

Was grateful for the advance warning this time, though, and I was sufficiently prepared when, ah… when she kissed me. On the lips this time, mind. Was very nice, indeed. Was very, um... yes, nice... In fact, was just getting into it, when—

'Er what in the name of Merlin's arse is going on here!'

Aargh! Was bloody Potter! Stupid arse-wipe!

He was standing there, watching us with a scandalised expression on his face. 'Ron's just…Hermione…what are you doing?' he asked in a disbelieving voice.

Realise that Granger and I are not the most orthodox pairing in the world, but think I was miffed that Potter, after all his posturing lately, was going to revert to type and disapprove. Suppose I 'm not surprised he won't ever trust me fully.

'What do you possibly think she could be doing?' I spat testily.

He looked downwards and scrubbed a hand through his hair. 'Um… But… But why?'

Merlin!

Granger stepped away from me and touched her friends arm. 'We're, um, well, sort of together, Harry, in a way—'

'Together? Since when?' he exclaimed in dismay. 'I didn't think you actually knew each other very well. You even said you couldn't stand him, once, Hermione!'

Couldn't stand me, eh? Charming!

She blushed. 'Might have been a little hasty… And Harry, I'm sorry I never told you, but Severus and I have become friends over the last few months…'

'Friends?' Potter repeated blankly and, to my everlasting horror, looked at me as if… as if I'd betrayed him.

What the hell?

'Well, I… I suppose I am happy for you both…' He smiled awkwardly. 'Um…Just a shock, that's all. I ah… Oh, Ginny needs me.' He walked off to stand next to his wife, who clearly wanted to know the juicy details, but Potter just stood there like an automaton.

'Don't worry…' said Granger briskly, also looking at him.

(Is she blind? Worry? I hasten to clarify that I was not worried any way, shape or form!)

'… He's just upset to realise he's not the first in your affections any more.'

Oh my God! Oh my God!

This can't be true! Potter is unbalanced—unhinged. The years of abuse and torment and near-death experiences have finally caught up with him.

No other possible explanation. None.

Bloody creep.

Thursday 29th December

14:50 — Home.

Have left Hogwarts for home, now that Christmas is over with, because, naturally, nothing whatsoever can remain under wraps in that castle, however hard you try. I'm sick of Minerva shaking her head and muttering a dazed sounding 'Hermione Granger,' under her breath every time she sees me.

And if I hear, 'I just can't get my head round it,' one more time, I'm going to scream. She can't get her head round it? How the fuck does she think I'm managing? And I'm the one who has to go out with Granger for dinner tomorrow night!

Merlin!

Some people are so self-absorbed.

Friday 30th December

16:30 — Hoping to calm my nerves through some important self-reflection whilst knowing perfectly well I shall fail miserably.

Well, it turns out this shall be the last entry I make in this diary. It's going to have to be because it runs out after December and I've only got two and a half pages left to write on. Dear Lord; I've actually filled a whole book with my meanderings of thought.

Was considering buying a new diary for the new year, but… now I'm unsure whether I shall continue this practice.

To be honest, that security scare I had with Granger has put me off. Don't think I want to risk anyone else getting their hands on my most personal ramblings. Indeed, the possibility has become too much to contemplate, and so I am even considering burning the evidence of this past year. There are just some things too sensitive for public consumption, and I'd rest easier knowing there was no way this diary could ever fall into the wrong hands.

And yet … I'm not sure I can bring myself to destroy it. Not yet, anyway. I know it's a new year and a new start and all that rubbish, but I think it would be hasty of me to forget what has happened to me these past twelve months.

In light of that, suppose I could just continue to ward the book extensively—possibly put it within my vault at Gringotts', disguised as something else, until I'm ready to obliterate it entirely.

Have spent a good deal of today reading back through these ramblings, and all I can say is thank Christ I never did keep a diary throughout the war. Dread to think what I would have come out with, if this lot is anything to go by.

Nearly twelve months ago I was a forty-five year old former Death Eater, former spy, former Potions Master, former Defence Against the Dark Arts Master, and left-on-the-scrap-heap-civil-servant, of little significance. Am now nearly forty-six year old former Death Eater, former spy, former Potions Master, former Defence Against the Dark Arts Master, former left-on-the-scrap-heap-civil-servant, of little significance, and current man of leisure, seeing woman half his age!

If that doesn 't scream mid-life crisis, I don't know what does. But still, I'm going to call it progress nevertheless.

It appears that this time last year, I wrote down a set of goals for the year ahead. Only seems appropriate that I evaluate them at this juncture.

1. Drink less.

Well, I think I can safely say I didn't even get off the mark with that one. Oops.

2. Embark on new career route by finding a job I: a) actually enjoy; b) am not over-qualified for; and c) where I am fully appreciated.

Oh dear Lord.

3. Find a woman.

Success! Ha ha! Who would have thought? Of course, this goal may be back by next year (may even be back by tomorrow) if I manage to bugger things up, which, let's face it, is very possible.

Still, it's two fingers up at Weasley, for the time being, and I'll always remain grateful for that!

4. Will think positively.

Did I really write that? Extraordinarily deluded of me, wasn't it?

One out of four, mind. I think that 's something to be applauded, actually. Well done me.

Tomorrow is a new day, then, and nearly a new year. Am happy to say I shall be starting this next year in better condition than I did the last. Might even look forward to my imminent birthday!

Or not, really. Don 't want reminders as to how old I am… Maybe I won't say anything to Granger… Hermione… whatever she wants to be called… about it. Maybe she isn't even aware of how big the age-gap actually is… Although, I expect she could still deduce it without the finer details… Damn. Was going to shave five years off my actual age…

Still have no job, of course, but that's fine. If I get really desperate, will just have to get the cauldron out; am sure I can make a few Galleons on that score. There are always people in Knockturn Alley willing to buy potions off the street…

More pressingly, there are only two short hours remaining until I am to Apparate to Diagon Alley to meet Granger for our dinner. Have already had two (three) snifters in preparation. Will curtail any further libations, as I don't want to turn up looking and smelling like I've spent the day in a distillery (what a wonderful image, though).

It's time to Make Effort, again… Ugh… Will have to give the navy-blue cravat another airing… Will put a comb through my hair, as well, I suppose… Oh God; what a fuss! And for what? Shall probably be disaster of epic proportions and I will come home and simply want to die.

Oh well… have only a few lines left on the page, so, finally, then, will leave you with this vote of confidence I overheard from the eminently sage and matter-of-fact Rolanda Hooch, on the incident of my rather fledgling relationship with Hermione Granger.

"Oh, it won 't last; she's on the rebound, and he, wellhe's been on the rebound for the last twenty five years or more!"

Charming; bloody charming.

FIN


AN: I'm reasonably confident Severus will, indeed, be buying a new diary for the new year; however, I do have a fic for the SS/HG gift exchange to work on first. Eek. Thanks to Cave Felem for her help and assistance; and thanks to everyone for reading, and for reviewing—much appreciated : )