Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to JKRowling.
Credit: This is the chronicle of Severus and Hermione's friendship and eventual love as related to two storytellers - co-writers etherian and Master Snape.
Summary: This takes place after Deathly Hallows, and ignores the Epilogue, and of course, the assumption that Nagini killed Severus Snape. Hermione did marry Ron but she is divorced at the beginning. Rated M for some language, and erotica later on.
Revisions are being made (as of 3-28-12) and chapters seamlessly replaced. Please feel free to read and review.
Had someone been knocking? No, he probably dreamed it. Nobody could possibly be knocking on his door this early in the morning, especially on a Sunday. If somebody actually had the audacity to cause such a disturbance at his home, they were probably incredibly obtuse or remarkably brave. Turning onto his stomach, he stuffed his arms under the heavy down pillows, and buried himself deeper under the velvet duvets, ready to drift off once more, when he heard the offensive sound again.
It was definitely knocking.
Sighing deeply, he rolled onto his back and cracked open an eye. Seeing the soft glow peeking around the edges of the heavy drapes drawn over the windows in his bedroom, he knew it was barely past dawn.
There it was again, that infernal knocking. There was no denying it this time.
Cursing under his breath, he threw back the bedclothes in irritation, and made his way to the loo, making sure to grab his robes along the way. Whoever it was could damn well wait until he was through with his morning abultions. If they were gone before he was done, all the better, especially for the poor imbecile who dared to disturb his slumber. Taking his time, and hoping the dunderhead would take the hint, he laboriously scrubbed his face and shaved by hand, purposely not using any magic to assist him. Once he had slowly tied his silk cravat and slid the last button on his frock coat into place, a good thirty minutes had passed but the intrusive knocking still persisted. Giving up, he made his way downstairs in a flurry of black robes, aggravation pulsating around him. It was too early to put up with the monotony of entertaining anyone who was stupid enough to pound on his door at such an ungodly hour.
Then again, for Severus Snape, any time was too early for visitors.
Grabbing the door, he flung it open ready to unsheathe his wrath on the unsuspecting clot, only to find a pair of surprised honey colored orbs staring back at his deep grey. One of her hands was frozen mid knock while the other carried a brown paper sack.
His charcoal grey eyes narrowed.
"Miss Granger, what are you doing here at such an unseemly hour?" He seethed, making sure to punctuate each word with the aggravation he clearly felt.
"P-professor Snape, I-I didn't mean to disturb you," she stuttered, trying to gain back the confidence she had felt earlier when this seemed like a wonderful idea.
So much for spur of the moment decisions.
"I assumed you would be up by now. You always seemed to be an early riser especially when you were teaching. I often saw you take early morning walks around this time," she said, offering him a weak smile.
"And you would know this how?" He asked crossing his arms and eyeing her suspiciously. What reason did she have to notice such a thing? Surely there was more to this?
Hermione sighed but did not break the former Professor's gaze.
"I had problems sleeping most nights, in fact I still do, so I would simply rise early and sit by my window to read or watch the sunrise. Many times I saw you leave the castle to go on what I assumed were walks. I wasn't spying Sir; it was just something I couldn't help but notice."
"You assume too many things Miss Granger, however that does not explain the nature of this obtrusive visit," he said disdainfully as his dark eyes left hers and flicked momentarily to the paper sack in her hands before moving back to meet her gaze once again. Was that a blush on her cheeks? No it was probably the cold. Suddenly realising she had been standing outside for the good part of an hour, he resigned himself to the inevitable and moved aside to let her in.
"If you have to explain yourself, you may as well do so inside as I will not be responsible for you catching your death. Now that I am finally free of teaching dunderheads, I would like to enjoy my retirement in peace and not have that interrupted by the untimely death of a former student freezing on my doorstep," he said sharply, as he slammed the door shut upon her entry, making the girl jump in fright. She spun around instantly to face him, her cheeks flushed with anger.
"I recall you telling me I could drop by anytime if I ever felt the need for conversation. As your floo is warded, and you ignore your owl post most of the time, there really is no way to get a hold of you! I am sorry; I did not think this was too early for you Professor! I was taking a walk this morning and happened upon a new French bakery not too far from my home in Hogsmead. I wandered in just as they were putting out a tray of freshly backed chocolate croissants. I recall you having a fondness for them at Hogwarts, so I thought I would pick up extra and share them with you while they were still warm. You're right however, I assume too much. You will have to forgive my impertinence," she said with haughtiness that he knew was masking her deep hurt. Gryffindors could never hide their true feelings well. She coldly thrust the paper sack into his hands, and made her way toward the door.
The dark wizard sighed knowing she was right, though he loathed admitting it. He had told her she could stop by anytime, especially when he knew she was trying to cope with personal problems. The loss of her son Hugo from Dragon Pox earlier in the year, coupled with a newly settled divorce from that idiot Weasley had left the woman a mere shell of the brilliant student he once knew.
When she had started writing to him almost a year ago to inquire about a potion she was researching, he did not expect the correspondence to last as long as it had, but gradually as the letters continued, a tentative friendship had begun. Soon she was coming over for tea weekly, and though he would contest it until given Veritaserum, he knew her visits were the highlight of his week.
"Tell me Miss Granger, do you make it routine to observe all your Professors eating and sleeping habits?" He scowled to mask his own curiosity. He could not fathom why she would take the time to care about such things. The very notion was insane.
He watched the young woman pause at the door, her hand resting on the vintage brass knob as if fighting an internal struggle. Finally with a resolute sigh, she turned her fallow eyes to meet his deepest grey.
"Only those I care about."
The minutes seemed to stretch into an eternity as nobody dared to move. The only sound was the ticking of the antique clock on Severus' mantle. Somehow with that one statement, both knew a major shift had occurred in their relationship, though neither seemed ready to take the next step. Thankfully a gentle chime on the hour seemed to release the pair from their uncomfortable paralysis. As Hermione turned to leave, Severus cleared his throat and lowered his eyes to stare at a spot on the rug as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.
"As I recall Miss Granger, you have a fondness for French Roast coffee. I distinctly remember you ordering it several times at the lectures where we have encountered each other. As it so happens, I have an abundance of it thanks to Minerva's sagaciousness during the holidays. You are welcome to share it with me and test the theory if this new bakery is worth another visit," he said as he fingered the paper sack in his hand, his expression unreadable. "I suppose this would also be a good time to discuss the business proposition we had talked about last week, if you are still interested that is," the former Professor asked, softer than he had intended.
Hermione let her hand fall from the door knob, her heart pounding against her chest, as she turned to take a step closer to the Potions Master.
"I would be honored Professor, and yes, I am very much interested."
Lifting his eyes from the rug, he scanned his former pupil's face. She had indeed grown into a strong and lovely woman. How had he not noticed this before? He had tolerated her seemingly innocuous visits over the last year, but were they really that much of an annoyance, or was he in denial? They had often encountered each other at potions lectures and Ministry functions, so he did not see her visits as anything different. When had things changed?
When she had trusted him enough to open up about her life.
When her visits became the point of light in his week.
When she told him she cared.
Clearing his throat, he came to a decision.
"I am no longer your Professor, nor do I even teach. The title you give me is ludicrous. I have a name, Miss Granger. I suggest you use it."
Hermione felt as if she had just run, jumped, and hurdled herself over a massive precipice.
"Only if you call me Hermione, for I am also no longer your pupil," she said taking another step closer to the older wizard before adding softly, "Severus." The smile on her lips showed how much it pleased her to be able to address him as such. Not many people were given such a rare invitation.
The word escaped from his mouth before he even realised he had spoken out loud. A slight flush of embarrassment crept up his cheeks and he quickly turned toward the kitchen sniffing indignantly for her to follow, hoping she had not noticed.
Hermione followed him thinking how much she had always hated her name until the moment she heard it spoken with the voice that had haunted her dreams as well as her heart for more years than she dared to admit, even to herself.
This was going to be a morning to remember, and hopefully one of many to come.
Author: Master Severus Snape