Disclaimer: I am, most unfortunately, not J.K. Rowling, nor am I a member of Fun... so if you recognize something, it's not mine.
Song: We Are Young, fun.
A/N: Listening to this song one day, a scene began to play out in my head - so I wrote it down. At first, I attempted to change the characters around to make it more believable, but nothing seemed to fit. In the end I decided to stick with the characters I first saw, and let them tell the story... and this just sort of happened.
It's definitely AU. I don't want to give away to much background - it's important in the story - but I'll let you know that this is set at least six years after the final war and the defeat of Voldemort.
She hadn't been back to the bar since that night. Since that morning, when she woke up on Severus' couch, leaning against him with his arms around her. It was innocent enough, had they been friends, but because of their muddled past…she made sure not to wake him as she grabbed her coat and slipped out the door.
That had been two weeks ago. Somehow she'd let Lucius persuade her to join him this evening. She knew he was meeting up with Severus; they were still friends, and she held nothing against him for that. She figured it might be a little easier to speak with Severus if it wasn't just the two of them this time.
This was why she was now sitting in a booth next to Lucius, across from Severus. They'd been speaking amicably for the past half hour, albeit the conversation was a bit tense. When the most recent topic trailed off to a comfortable lull, Lucius stood.
"I'm going to check on the chips. I'll give those Muggles one thing – they know their way around a potato." He grinned at Severus for a moment and pressed a kiss to Hermione's cheek before sauntering off toward the bartender. She didn't miss the way Severus' lips tightened into a disapproving line before he lifted his mug and took a long drink. She watched him, appearing more relaxed than she felt. She didn't want to get into an argument with him again, and considering the last time they were alone together…
"He's quite fond of you." His statement was meant to be neutral, but hints of disdain slipped out around the edges. Hermione nodded, keeping her eyes on the man across from her. He would not look at her – he'd managed not to make eye contact the entire evening.
"And I him." She answered truthfully, taking a sip of her own butterbeer. He set his glass down rather forcefully.
"Look, I know that I have no right – "
"You don't." She interrupted him.
"You're a beautiful, young woman, and it should be no surprise that men are lining up – "
"Really?" She asked sarcastically, glancing around as if expecting a literal line to be forming. He half sighed, half growled, and his upper lip curled in annoyance. "There you are. Severus Snape. I was wondering where he ran off to." She let out a short, dry laugh, and took a long drink from her glass. Looking back at him, she was slightly surprised he was looking pointedly into her eyes.
"Will you let me speak." He hissed in his 'professor voice'. She raised her eyebrow and shrugged, once more returning her attention to her drink. She knew what he wanted – Merlin, if she were honest she wanted it too – but she wasn't going to make this easy for him.
"I've already told you everything I can. I've apologized in every way I know how – even knowing that mere words can't change what I've physically done to hurt you, I've said them anyway. If you know any other thing I can do to fix this, tell me. I'll do it. And I mean that." He paused, gauging her for a moment. "If you want me to die, then… there are many ways for that to happen. But I – " He hesitated, stopping and looking down at his drink.
She raised her eyebrow again, this time curiously. She certainly did not want him to die – no, she wouldn't be able to live if he were dead. After everything, she still loved him.
"But?" She asked softly, so softly he wasn't sure she'd spoken. He guessed she didn't want to frighten him off.
"I know that I'm not all you have. But you're all that I have." He was looking at her in earnest, and she knew that if she tried Legilimency his mind would be open for her to peruse. She carefully schooled her features to be neutral but not negative.
This was Severus Snape who was speaking to her. Snape, the man who ridiculed everyone he set eyes on, his entire life. The man who hated her best friend, who worked as the right-hand man for the most evil being on Earth for many years, who killed one of the most beloved wizards of their time, who tortured wizards and Muggles alike just to save face…
And yet he was also the man who was bullied and ridiculed, who never got anything that he wanted – not even love, who put his life in the hands of a wizard who wasn't actually all sunshine and lemon drops, who tore apart his soul for the woman he adored… he spent years working with Voldemort, as an inside man for Dumbledore. He pretended to loath Harry in lieu of protecting him, in hopes of some sort of condolence for not saving the woman he loved. A woman who hadn't even loved him in return.
He was also the man who allowed a throng of known Death Eaters into his home, Death Eaters who hated Muggle-borns such as Hermione. Death Eaters who assumed that the only reason a revered Dark one such as Snape would have a Muggle-born in his house was for personal pleasure…and it wasn't the sort of personal pleasure any normal people would indulge in. Like Bellatrix, these Death Eaters were the true insane types – they thrived on the pain and torture of those below them. They reveled in it. And because Snape knew that they would have hurt her far worse than he, he was the one to cast the curse. She remembered the look on his face as he pointed his wand at her just as clearly as the man sitting before her today.
She sighed and closed her eyes, ending the memory. She knew that he'd seen it as well.
"I will never forgive myself for that. Never." Opening her eyes at his words, she saw that he now held that same expression he had those many months before. His left hand was resting on the table, and she reached out her right to place upon it. He flinched, but did not pull away.
"You might as well. I've forgiven you." She told him sincerely. As she spoke, she found it was true. It still hurt her to think about, but she had forgiven him. He looked shocked.
"What for?" He furrowed his brow, appearing almost angry with her. "You shouldn't. They don't call them Unforgivables for nothing." He said sarcastically, pulling his hand away from hers and taking a long drink of butterbeer. She frowned as well, folding her hands in her lap.
"Here you are, asking me to forgive you, and then when I say I have you tell me that I shouldn't. Make up your mind, Snape, because Lucius will be coming back soon and this conversation will be done with." She said shortly. He visibly flinched when she called him 'Snape'. He hated it when she used his name as if it were a curse, and she knew he hated it.
"It's just…not easy." He told her, not looking up. She watched him for a moment, sighed, and softened her features.
"It's not supposed to be easy," she said gently, "That's what makes it such a powerful thing. I do forgive you." He didn't look up.
"Severus." Surprised at her tone, he lifted his eyes to meet hers. "I forgive you." She told him sincerely. To anyone watching, it would have appeared as if he simply ignored her statement, or even thought of it with disdain. She, however, knew him better than anyone else – and she saw the emotion in his eyes, and in his thoughts as he allowed her to look into them. She was surprised by the strength of his emotion.
"Who would've thought…" He looked at her curiously as she spoke quietly, "Who would've thought that the man who seemed to have the greatest lack of emotion, was in fact the man who could love the most." The corner of his mouth quirked up in what could be called the start of a smile. She knew that it would take a while for her to see the true grin light up his features once more, but she would wait for it.
Just as she had waited for it the first time.
"I – would you…?" He suddenly asked, and then stopped himself, looking displeased. She took a drink of butterbeer, waiting for him to continue. "Would you like another one?" He gestured to her now empty glass. Setting it down, she nodded.
"Yes. Thank you." She told him as he gathered their empty glasses and stood.
"No…thank you," He told her softly before walking away toward the counter. She was watching him, too distracted to notice Lucius slide into the previously occupied seat across from her.
"So, did you two make up?" He asked in all seriousness, setting a steaming plate of chips on the center of the table. She jumped slightly, turning to face him.
"Hardly," She scoffed, picking a chip off of the edge of the plate, blowing it cool before taking a bite. "However… we're heading in that direction." She amended, knowing that by the time the night was over she would want to be in his company once more. Lucius watched her, a mischievous look in his eyes. She sighed. "What is it, Lucius?"
"I know that he's more important to you than I am," He began, and she looked at him indignantly.
"Don't say that. You are very important to me." She insisted. He raised his eyebrow and ate a chip.
"But you don't love me." He stated. When she opened her mouth to reply, he held up his hand. "No, it's just a fact. I know it, and you know it. I never expected for you to love me, Hermione. Yes, you are beautiful, and yes, you are a damn good shag," She kicked his leg under the table, but laughed. "And yes, I value your feelings immensely," He said sincerely, "However, I am not the one who holds your heart." He looked pointedly toward the counter where Severus was, and she sighed.
"It's horrid though, isn't it? We argue all the time, hurt one another with our words – and sometimes physically too – and yet…" She looked toward Severus, "And yet…" She trailed off, returning her gaze to Lucius. "We just tear one another apart." She took another chip and munched on it, not really focusing on the taste.
"Maybe you could find new ways to fall apart." She heard the innuendo in his tone and choked on a bit of chip, kicking him again.
"Lucius Malfoy!" She cried, making to kick at him again. He laughed and used his own legs to trap hers.
"Oh, come off it. I know you two were…previously engaged in certain relations –" She threw what was left of her chip at him when he wiggled his eyebrows.
"We weren't!" She insisted, wriggling, trying to get one of her legs free to kick him again. He easily held her off.
"Come on, why else would you have been in his house at that time of night? 'Personal pleasures', I bet – "
"We weren't! You know very well that he and I have been working together for years!" She pursed her lips in annoyance, giving up her attempts of kicking him. "We had been working on brewing a potion that he had created. We'd taken a break when there was a lull and…well, that was when all that happened." She waved her hand in the air indicating to her scars. Lucius relaxed his hold on her, looking at her sideways.
"I believe you," He said after a moment, "So that means the two of you should all the more –"
"No, Lucius. He wouldn't… we can't." She trailed off.
Her relationship with Severus had always been tumultuous, until the last three years or so. He had told her about his past, and she realized that he was much more than just Severus Snape, Death Eater. It had been quite a surprise when she'd claimed he was a close confidante, and even more of a surprise when he agreed and returned the sentiment.
And then six months ago, during a late night of brewing Wolfsbane, Severus had a few unannounced visitors. How they got into Hogwarts was anyone's guess, but after that night the wards surrounding the castle had been checked and doubled.
"Maybe you should prove to him that you really do forgive him…then he might forgive himself." Lucius told her softly. She had been so caught up in her thoughts she hadn't even felt him use Legilimency. She frowned at him but didn't vocalize her disapproval.
"Are you two done flirting, or should I grab my own table?" Severus asked with disdain. She hadn't noticed his approach, but now looked up at him as he held two frothing mugs of butterbeer. She realized that her legs were still wrapped up in Lucius', and Severus probably noticed it from the bar. She quickly pulled her legs back as he set the mugs down on the table. She grabbed his arm and pulled slightly, so he sat down next to her on the booth. He appeared surprised, but pleased, and Lucius looked mischievous again. Lucius winked at Hermione when she caught his eye, and Severus quietly growled under his breath.
"Sorry, my friend. I was merely attempting to defend myself from her vicious kicking." Lucius told Severus, who smirked into his mug as he took a sip.
"Oh, I'm sure you deserved it then." He commented, with an amused raised eyebrow. Lucius scoffed playfully and made to retaliate when he noticed the group that had just entered the pub.
"Excuse me for a moment, I'm gonna go get those guys. Mind if they join?" He asked as he stood up. Hermione shrugged and nodded, and Severus merely took another drink of butterbeer. Hermione reached for hers and set her other hand on top of his, which had been resting on his leg nearest her. He flinched slightly but did not pull away. She took a long drink as he dared to intertwine his fingers with her own. She squeezed his hand, and when he opened his mouth to speak, she blurted,
"Would you like to come home with me tonight?" Did she just say that? Lucius was more persuasive than either of them thought. Severus looked just as surprised, if not more so.
"What?" He asked after a moment, wondering if he heard her correctly.
"No – that's not a question." She corrected herself, realizing that she very much wanted the safety of his arms again tonight. "Come home with me tonight." She told him softly, taking another drink as Lucius and the other two men were now nearing their table. Severus opened and closed his mouth a few times, looking straight ahead.
"Wow, look at this! It seems my boy here has been rendered speechless! That's certainly a feat – what did you say, Hermione?" Lucius teased as the other two sat down across from them. He pushed Severus closer to Hermione and sat on the other side of him. "Or maybe I should ask, what did you do?" He leaned across Severus to stage-whisper to her, and wiggled his eyebrows. Hermione blushed and made to pull her hand away from Severus, but he just tightened his hold.
"Mind your own, Lucius. And stop misconstruing things." She told him haughtily as she took a drink of butterbeer. She felt rather than saw Severus elbow Lucius back to his own space on the seat.
Harry and Ron, the two new additions to their group, looked uncomfortable and mildly disgusted. Hermione squeezed Severus' hand, offering encouragement. While the boys certainly respected him and didn't mind his company now that his true colors were out, he was still the snarky git of the dungeons at Hogwarts.
"Hey, Hermione, I know you've got your own right to who you, ah, hang out with – but could you, ah, kind of, you know, just…hold off while we're around? It's just kind of unsettling, you know. I'll get used to it eventually, just…" Harry scratched the back of his head uncomfortably as Hermione let him ramble. Severus raised his eyebrow at the younger man but kept his mouth shut.
"Harry, I didn't do anything!" She insisted, shooting a look at Lucius, who was laughing.
"So, how've you been 'Mione?" Ron asked, attempting to change the subject. Hermione looked at him gratefully and answered his question.
Severus sat quietly and watched as the other four interacted, throwing in a 'hmm' or a smirk every now and then when needed. He looked at Hermione with a new appreciation. They didn't know that he was the one that had hurt her. He thought for sure he'd have to be on his guard against them from then on, but it seemed as if they were genuinely attempting to get along with him. She hadn't told them the truth.
"Careful, Snape, you look a little too interested if you catch my drift," Lucius whispered in his ear, and he jerked his gaze from the woman next to him. "Wouldn't want the Potter boy to find out you've been shagging – "
"Let's raise a glass!" Severus said suddenly, interrupting Lucius and the other three, who had been in a deep conversation concerning the recent happenings in the Ministry. Harry and Ron immediately joined in, as did Hermione, though she had a questioning look about her. Lucius tapped his glass with theirs as well, his eyebrow raised in amusement.
"What for?" Ron asked as he took a drink along with the others.
"The five of us are all sitting here amicably, having pleasant conversation and not trying to kill one another. That's good enough reason, don't you think?" He sounded only slightly sarcastic, and Harry smiled and lifted his glass in salute.
"I'll drink to that," And he did. Ron downed the rest of his butterbeer as well (they had already gone through most of their glasses each by this point), and he pulled at Harry's arm to join him in acquiring another mug for each of them. Severus used this moment of absence to lean closely toward Hermione.
"I've also found someone willing to take me home tonight," He whispered silkily into her ear, his lips brushing her skin. She blushed as he pulled away, and raised her glass as well.
"I'll drink to that," She told him in the same tone of voice Harry had used, and he revealed a quick smile as she took a drink.
An hour later Hermione announced that she should probably be headed home, and Severus immediately offered his assistance. Lucius stood to let them out of the booth, and Harry and Ron complained a bit about her "leaving so soon", but they said their goodbyes with a grin. Lucius followed Severus and Hermione to the door.
"I'll stay with these chaps; make sure they get home safely. You have a sobering potion, right Severus?" Lucius asked his friend, who nodded.
"Yes I do," He began to answer, and Hermione wrapped her arm around his and pulled him halfway out the door.
"But he won't need it. We'll walk. I don't live too far from here." She said, smiling to Lucius.
"I know," Lucius grinned playfully and kissed her forehead. "It's been fun, lass, but I hope I never have to be the scapegoat for Severus ever again." She raised her eyebrow at him, and he laughed. "Mostly because he's one of the few people I'm truly afraid of." He clapped his friend on the shoulder and bid his goodbyes, slipping back inside. Severus sighed as they began to walk down the sidewalk.
"I still hate that you did that." He told her, looking ahead. She looked up at the sky, a comfortable smile on her face. The butterbeer probably had helped with that.
"Yes, well…that part of my life is over with, and never to be seen again." She promised him, and he looked down at her.
"Never?" He said quietly, and she stopped walking and faced him. She looked at him for a few moments, and nodded.
"Never." She affirmed, and took a step closer to him. She stood on her toes to brush her lips against his, and wrapped her arm more tightly around his before continuing the path home. After that, he had to force himself to watch where he was going. He'd always thought she was beautiful, but in the moonlight… he didn't have words for it. The rest of the walk was one in comfortable silence, but when they reached her doorway he hesitated.
"Are you sure?" He asked her, frowning. She slipped her arm from his as she unlocked the door, then turned to face him.
"Severus," She said seriously, "I have never been more sure. I never did stop loving you. Not even – not even then. You did it to save me. I understand that. And I still love you." He stood there looking into her eyes, hoping that she was telling the truth.
Their love for one another had been something they avoided talking about, even in their closest moments. He had been aware that she cared very deeply for him, and she was aware that he cared for her just as well; it was something that had just never been vocalized.
"I can't promise I'm not going to hurt you again," he told her, "I can promise that it will never be physically, never again, but…I'm still me. The 'snarky git'." She took his hand in hers.
"The snarky git that I love." She affirmed. "You have no reason to run." He didn't reply; he was unsure how to. "Don't worry, we're not… I just want you here, with me. I need to know that you're here." She told him. He gazed at her silently, with the emotion that he was feeling inside but was uncomfortable with expressing. She smiled softly and opened the door, not letting go of his hand as she pulled him in behind her. She'd learned to read even his most subtle facial expressions long ago.
No, he wasn't perfect by any means, but he was still the one who held her heart. And she held his.
"I'll always be here," He promised her very quietly as he closed the door behind them.
A/N: Reviews - help write better, me, they do. :)
Also, the story is supposed to be a little vague on things, but if you would still like anything cleared up, I will certainly respond to any questions/confusion.