Reflections in Firewhiskey by Inusagi

Summary: Severus Snape drowns his sorrows in some of Ogden's Old.

Disclaimer: It's Jo's sandbox. I'm just building castles. With dungeons and potions labs.

Severus Snape was turning into a drunk. It was a fact that shamed him. As a child, he'd sworn he'd never touch the bitter liquid that so often sent his father into a violent rage. He'd lived on both sides of two wars. He had lost the only two people he'd genuinely cared about—one because of information that had passed through his traitorous lips and the other at the end of his wand. He'd endured bullying, torture, and loneliness. And yet, through all of that, he'd never been driven to drink in the way he was now.

He hated himself.

But every time he lay in his bed, he could smell her almond-scented shampoo on his pillow, could feel the slight weight of her head resting on his shoulder, and feel her unmanageable brown hair tickling his nostrils. He could feel her soft skin arching up against his, hear her gasps and moans.

When he sat in his study, he could practically see her there, curled up on his sofa with a Potions journal or Dark Arts book from his personal library, filling entire notebooks with information, thoughts and doodles, disturbing the peaceful quiet with questions and excited chatter.

Everywhere he went, everything he did, he was reminded of Hermione—clever, innocent, sweet Hermione, who lit up his life with her passion and laughter. Merlin, but he missed her.

Firewhiskey was the only thing that could make the ache subside.

It had only been a week since he'd packed her things and kicked her out. He couldn't even face her, couldn't even be a man long enough to break her heart. He'd shrunk her things and left her a note. Like a coward.

But Kingsley had been right when he told Severus that he was holding her back. Her bosses at the Ministry all knew she was seeing him. Theirs was a small community, and the government offices were filled with whispers of her liaison with the dangerous, dark wizard who killed Dumbledore and evaded Azkaban. How could she be trusted, they whispered, when she didn't have the good sense to find a decent wizard?

Kingsley was right. She deserved better. Much, much better than him. She deserved a skyrocketing, glamorous career fighting for House-Elf rights and Muggle-born equality. She deserved to be heard by the Wizengamot. She deserved a family. She deserved a good wizard who could enrich her life and make her happy.

She deserved better than a middle-aged, emotionally-stunted Death Eater.

So Severus poured himself another glass.