This is a companion piece to "A Few Thoughts On Turning Thirty". It will make more sense if you read that one first.
I have known Severus Snape since he was eleven years old. I remember the evening that I placed the Sorting Hat on his head, thinking that I had never seen a scrawnier or homelier child. He was tall for his age and hadn't grown into that nose of his.
His robes were clean, but his trousers were too short and showed more ankle than they should. They had a faded and nubby look to them from too many washings. In a family with several children, I would have thought them handed down from at least two previous owners. It turned out that they had been purchased second hand. Over the years, I never saw Severus wear anything new until he could afford to purchase his own clothing.
Eileen Prince's son. I had wondered what became of her after her family cast her out. It Was Not Spoken Of in polite company, but word had got out that she'd become pregnant by a Muggle and was sent off to shift for herself. According to the various information and consent forms Eileen had sent after young Severus received his Hogwarts letter, Eileen's last name was Snape and the boy's father listed as one Tobias Snape, Muggle.
The Half-Blood Prince.
That's how he styled himself after a few years. Sorted into Slytherin, Severus learned quickly to emphasize his wizarding blood line and mock his Muggle one. After all, the Princes were a fine old family, even though they were dying out and had outlived their money.
On more than one occasion, I thought it dreadful that the family did not take that child under their wing. The boy was intelligent, magically adept, and absolutely determined to prove himself. Those inbred idiots in the Prince family ignored the existence of a child who could have done them proud, if they would have overlooked his father.
Having a family that cared about him might have kept Severus from falling into bad company. He might have had the confidence that would have kept the Sorting Hat from sending him to Slytherin and put him in Ravenclaw instead where he truly belonged. As utterly brilliant as he was, Severus would have been so much happier and content in Ravenclaw. The children there are accustomed to eccentric, awkward, and highly intelligent children. He might have made good friends and had an easier life.
Yet, if the Hat hadn't sent him Slytherin, we might have all been doomed. His associations may have led him to become a Death Eater, but if he had not become our spy, I question if we could have ever defeated Voldemort.
I will always feel the shame of how I misjudged Severus. How could I forget everything I knew about Severus Snape and his character from the years we shared in the Order of the Phoenix? I knew full well that he was a consummate actor. He never would have survived the first rise of Voldemort, let alone his return, without those acting skills.
The evidence was there. The way he spared the children from the worst the Carrows could do. Sending the children from Dumbledore's Army into the Forbidden Forrest with Hagrid for detentions. So many bits and pieces that told the truth behind the lies and I did not put them all together and come to the right conclusion. Instead, I drove him off and humiliated him in every way I could.
It wasn't until Potter announced to Voldemort and the assembled multitudes that Severus had always been Dumbledore's man that we knew the truth.
I was grateful when Hermione Granger had one of those brilliantly insightful moments and figured out why we couldn't find Severus' body and Nagini's head after the Battle of Hogwarts. She used Albus' time turner and Harry's invisibility cloak to fetch Severus' dying body and Nagini's severed head. That teenaged girl saved his life.
Albus should have warned her when he told her where the Time Turner was hidden. He knew full well that having three Hermiones existing in one time frame would create a paradox that would kill her once the time lines merged. Drat that man. He always withheld key pieces of information that could have helped others avoid disaster. If Albus were alive, I would have thumped him about the head and ears for that.
Fortunately, when Severus was revived, he grasped the situation immediately. He wove some extraordinary magic that put Hermione back together when her body began to shatter in the parlor at Grimmauld Place. That action, along with Harry's revelations, changed a lot of opinions about where Severus Snape's loyalties truly lay.
He put his own shattered life back together, far away from Hogwarts. I asked him to return as the Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor or Potions Master, whichever he would prefer. He would have none of it. Severus started his own potions business as a supplier to St. Mungo's.
I never would have imagined that the serious-to-the-point-of-grim Severus Snape secretly envied the Weasley twins for their clever inventions. I never would have imagined that the reclusive former Death Eater Headmaster of Hogwarts would one day invent magical sweets that would cause one to turn lime green and spout smutty limericks with an Irish accent.
That boy was always too smart for his own good.
The first time that showed up at Hogwarts, I personally sent him a Howler. I've sent him dozens since. The man actually has the temerity to laugh at them.
I am glad of it. If ever there was a man who needs to laugh, it is Severus. They've become a standing joke between us.
I am happy that the man made a life for himself. He will never be a ray of sunshine, but at least he appears to feel he has paid his debts and deserves some peace.
Then, there was that night when so many of us from the Order got together at Harry and Ginny's home after Kingsley was reconfirmed as Minister of Magic for a third term. We were all deep in our cups and thoroughly enjoying it. I'm proud to say I can still drink any of them under the table, without the aid of a potion.
After all this time, I cannot recall exactly how the conversation started. We ended up talking about Albus and Gellert Grindewald and trying to remember anything Albus might have said about the two of them. Albus never really kept it a secret that he preferred blondes. In the decades I knew him, Albus had short-term relationships with half a dozen different fellows.
I remember commenting that he never brought any of them to Hogwarts and didn't want staff sneaking their lovers into the castle. Married couples only. Which meant that we single teachers didn't get any for long periods of time, since we couldn't leave the castle as freely as Albus.
"Probably why so many of us were grumpy." I couldn't believe that Pomona actually said that, even if it was the truth.
Meeting at the Ministry, my foot. I cannot begin to tell you how many times that was Albus' cover for an assignation.
Somehow, that led to someone mentioning Severus, whom we all agreed had been exceedingly grumpy for about twenty years. Which led Harry to make the observation that he'd been saving it all up for his mother. That left us appalled until Harry clarified that he was talking about Severus' relationship with Lily and not Eileen Prince.
All of us who were teachers during those years knew that Severus had a crush on Lily. I had no idea it had survived all of those years. If Harry hadn't been drunk on his arse, he probably wouldn't have said anything about it. I distinctly remember Harry saying that only a true romantic would have held on that long to an unrequited lost love.
My own response was something about obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Fortunately, Hermione didn't hear that part. She was too busy refilling the drinks on the other side of the table.
A few months later, I heard that Hermione and Severus had actually been seen together at Flourish and Botts. Followed a few weeks later by a report of dinner at a Muggle establishment in London.
I knew the rumors were true when Severus actually turned up with Hermione for dinner at the Potter's.
Hermione Granger is a force of nature when she is determined to accomplish something. She actually got Severus Snape out of the back room at Weasley Wizarding Wheezes, pulled his nose of whatever books he was reading that little row house in Manchester, and out on a date.
A date. They were dating. Severus Snape and Hermione Granger. You could have knocked me over with a quill.
By no means do I think that they are ill-suited. Two rampaging intellectuals whose idea of a hot date is browsing the deep thinker's section of any book store. Two people who can be painfully shy around people they don't know. Who went through hell and sacrificed much during the war, though in different ways. They have far more in common than most would realize, if they are only looking at the surface.
By the time we reached last October, I was not surprised that Severus gave her a ring for her birthday. She turned thirty and was quite ready to settle down.
It is now January 9th. Severus turns fifty today.
There was an elopement on New Years Eve. The two of them wished to start their new life with the New Year and didn't want a fuss. Rather typical of Severus and Hermione, but it won't stop us from giving them a party. It has been presented as a fiftieth birthday party that was already in the works before they eloped.
The invitations have gone out to only a few good friends and there shall be about twenty-five of us. Knowing Severus, he is putting up with the notion of celebrating a birthday because of Hermione's influence.
They are happy. Severus hides it behind a wall of positively Victorian manners. Hermione is a bit more obvious. The brief touches between them, gentle words, and a barely noticeable softening of Severus expression when he gazes at her. In his world, that is the equivalent of adoration.
He has come so far from where he started, bad decisions he made, and ultimately the redemption he so desperately sought. Severus Snape deserves to find Happily Ever After. Who would have ever thought it would be found with Hermione Granger?