Ummm yeah...this is a bit late, but blame the idiots that make my life hell at work (and ultimately at home)!
So we find out who the person in Hermione's office is... but what is or has been going on in the background?
Warnings: A bit of language. Lemony goodness will be coming up soon.
I own nothing but my imagination and a nice bar of chocolate. My muses belong elsewhere (apart from Gus)
Hermione's mouth fell open as she stared into the black version of her husband's eyes. But the face that accompanied them did not belong to Gus. It was older and all too familiar; a face from the past that she never thought she would see again.
Panic filled every fibre of her being. Her throat constricted as she battled to speak, and all the figure before her did was stare at her with those deep black fathomless pools.
He wished the circumstances surrounding his presence in Hermione's office were purely social, but a man in his position did not have a social life. But that suited him fine because you cannot miss what you never had, and he had enough things in his life that he did miss.
He looked down at the girl―no woman―that he knew from all those years ago, and took in a deep lungful of air in the vain hope that he was close enough to sense a piece of comfort from the past. He knew seeing her in person again would be hard, and the tightening in the pit of his stomach only confirmed this, but despite rehearsing what he had to say to her now that he was finally standing before her, everything he had prepared to tell her evaded him.
They just stared at each other until he quietly broke the silence. "Hello, Hermione," he drawled. His voice was different. It had lost much of its velvety quality and was much more like fraying silk.
Oh I really miss his voice. She thought despondently. It doesn't matter, at least it's still him. Where the fuck did that come from, Hermione?
Eventually, she regained some control of her own voice and croaked out, "You?"
"It is indeed me."
He placed the fingertips of his right hand on her desk, and nervously bounced them off the surface as he waited for her to assimilate what he knew must be a shock.
She wasn't sure if her brain was still functioning properly, but she managed to pull herself together enough to blurt out, "But...but you're dead!"
He snorted softly before swallowing hard as he tried to regain his composure. "The evidence would suggest otherwise," he stated calmly, even if his emotions were roiling just as much as the night he made the hardest decision of his life.
"No, you are. I saw you die. I saw you take your last breath." Her voice disappeared as she whispered, "I cried for you."
"I know you did," he told her as he blinked to battle back a tear which was threatening to escape. "I heard you. I—" He wanted to tell her why it was that he'd heard her. He wanted to tell her that he hated it when she cried. But that all had to wait. He was here for a reason. The past had been the past for so long that it could stay that way until he could address it properly.
A thousand questions hit her all at once, and he could see by her distressed expression that it would be prudent for him to take the lead in the conversation.
"Hermione, I know this must be a shock to you, but I can assure you that it was imperative that my death was falsified. I can explain why later but I need you to understand that―"
He stopped speaking as she looked at him wide eyed and opened mouthed. "So, Gus is your son? All this time it's been staring us all in the face, but because we thought...I can't believe this. Professor Snape is my father-in-law? You know, he's so like you, but you...you didn't have a child. If you did, there's no way you would have been so...so awful to us. And he always talks so highly about his father. He worships you...I suppose that explains why he's so good at Potions, but...how can someone like you be a parent let alone his dad?" You bitch! That was a terrible thing to say. You should apologise.
Her words stabbed at him, and his chest constricted. He couldn't deny that the mask he had worn over the years had shown him to be a bastard, and he couldn't deny that he wasn't the most pleasant of men in general. But when it came to the people he loved, no matter how hard or easy it was, he would try to move heaven and earth for them. If he couldn't then he did what he thought was best, and usually regretted it. It was that regret that caused her words to hurt so much.
But he couldn't react. He couldn't show her that she'd hurt him because, at the moment, she didn't know any better. All he could say was, "Yes, I am his father. The eyes and his brilliance in Potions are a giveaway, aren't they? And Hermione, aside from the fact that you married my son, and I am no longer a Professor, I believe that calling me Professor Snape is as inappropriate as me calling you Miss Granger. You may call me Severus."
He tried to force a smile, but Hermione couldn't help noticing that his usually tight lips fell slack as he screwed up his eyes and exhaled forcefully, like a defeated man. He knew that what he was about to tell her would break her heart just as much as his was already broken. Unfortunately for him he was quite familiar with breaking both their hearts.
He noticed that she seemed to have stopped paying him attention again as she tried to get her head around the fact that the man she thought had died long ago was standing in front of her very much alive and well, and also happened to be her father-in-law.
The silence was oppressive as both their minds calculated their next move. She was thinking up questions, still too shocked to realise that for him to be stood there at all meant something was seriously wrong, and he was trying to work out a kind way of telling her the reason behind his unexpected visit. He just knew that a game of twenty questions wouldn't help anyone, so he decided to press on.
"Hermione, the reason I've come to see you today is because—"
"Severus, why didn't you come to the wedding?"
Oh for fuck's sake! Will you never change, woman? He growled in his head. "Just because you didn't see me didn't mean I wasn't there," he said with an exasperated sigh. She wasn't making his task easy.
"Oh don't give me that I was there in spirit bollocks. It was your son's wedding day, and—"
"You wore three Dendrobium bellatulum orchids which, I am led to believe, are one of your favourites, in the back of your hair. They were only visible from behind, so I didn't just look at your wedding photographs, and pretend that I was in attendance."
"Well, why didn't you stay?" She asked in a far more familiar and accepting tone than he could have hoped to hear from her at the moment.
"I'm supposed to be dead. That kind of impediment tends to limit ones public appearances. And because of my unique role―"
"Unique? You're just an Unspeakable," Hermione scoffed.
"A supposedly dead Unspeakable," Severus grumbled. "If I may continue, whenever I am seen in public it generally requires the use of Polyjuice. And those who do know I am still alive, and until the moment I stepped into this office there were only three, have all made Unbreakable Vows."
"Will I need to make one?" Hermione asked.
"No, because after the Evening Prophet goes on sale it won't be necessary," Severus told her with an impatient sigh.
Severus looked at the ceiling and squeezed his eyes together as he told himself to keep it together. "All will be explained, but I just want you to know that the reason you were not aware I was at your wedding was because I slipped in after you walked up the aisle and left before you came back down it. It was one occasion where I didn't want to be Polyjuiced or Disillusioned. The point is Augustus knew I was there, so you do not need to worry about me not discharging my fatherly duty."
"Why didn't he tell me? I was ranting on about you not being there, and...well I thought it was strange that he wasn't that upset," she mused conversationally.
He took a deep breath and pushed it out quickly. "Hermione, as much as I would love to reminisce, and you did look stunning, by the way, I—"
But he was cut off by an incredulous laugh. "You're my faithful servant. Severus Snape is my faithful servant. That's how you ended that letter you sent to me with our wedding present."
Stop fucking interrupting me, Hermione! He thought as he suddenly tried to stop himself from blurting out a sentiment that rushed from the back of his mind to the tip of his tongue. Unfortunately, it was to no avail. "I've always been faithful to you."
Hermione's face suddenly dropped. "What? What does that mean?"
He could tell that she was now becoming suspicious of him, which whilst understandable was going to make his task even harder.
He hung his head allowing his hair to fall across his face and shield his eyes as he kicked himself for that slip up.
He always does that when he finds things difficult to say, Hermione thought before adding to herself, Where is all this coming from?
He wished he could explain what he meant, but there just wasn't the time. And yet she was looking at him with her soft, questioning, brown eyes, and against his better judgement he found himself mumbling, "I've only ever loved three people unconditionally, Hermione. Lily, Augustus and—"
"Gus' mother?" Hermione offered.
"No, she meant nothing to me," he told her, his voice full of revulsion. "She was—"
"Why Rosier?" Hermione interrupted urgently. "Why doesn't Gus have your name?"
Of all the questions she could have asked him, he wasn't expecting that one. He sighed deeply, becoming impatient as he desperately needed to tell her why he was stood in her office, but composed himself enough to state, "Well actually he does have my name. But Rosier was his maternal grandmother's maiden name, and he used it because—"
Hermione tried to recall all the large family trees for the name Rosier and, unfortunately, she remembered where she had seen it far too easily. She remembered how Harry had given her the dubious honour of removing the Black family tapestry from Grimmauld Place and asking Narcissa, Andromeda, even Draco if they wanted it. Unsurprisingly, none of them did.
But one thing was for sure. Druella Rosier had three daughters and only one was dead. Hermione found herself swallowing back down the bile that had risen in her throat.
"Please tell me it's not true. Please tell me that Gus knew how to brew the counter curse to rid my arm of the bitch's artwork without the use of blood magic." She sniffed as she tried to hold back her tears before she asked quietly, "Was Bellatrix Lestrange my husband's mother?"
The pain in her voice nearly broke him. He wished it wasn't true, but he found himself nodding to confirm her suspicion.
He watched Hermione pale as her body dissolved into wracking sobs. He wanted to console her. He wanted to wrap her up in his arms, but he knew he couldn't...now was not the time.
She felt another wave of nausea hit her, and brought her hand up to cover her mouth as her stomach churned. His hand twitched as he prepared to vanish any ensuing mess from her, but somehow she managed to control herself, and raised her hand to indicate that she was going to be alright.
Of course, he knew what Bellatrix had done to Hermione all those years ago at Malfoy Manor. He'd heard it straight from the bitch's mouth. He recalled her persistent cackling and bragging to the Dark Lord. Voldemort had punished her for an hour with the Cruciatus for letting Hermione, Weasley and Potter escape, but he wouldn't have let her get off so lightly. He'd have tortured her for days before ripping her throat out with his bare hands just for touching a single hair on Hermione's head.
But he always had to maintain his image of the cold, sneering bastard. He couldn't give himself away despite how he felt. But as he played his part well, he inwardly prayed that the plans Dumbledore had left in place succeeded. Then he could personally hunt down any Death Eater scum who managed to remain alive by the end of the gods forsaken war.
Hermione looked at him with fat tears rolling down her face.
"He's nothing like her," she whispered feebly.
"Thankfully not," he responded with a sigh. He tried to give her time to assimilate the information that he had not expected to reveal. Even Augustus had never been told the entire story behind his conception, and in fairness he had never asked. And as he thought to himself, and he never will, he had to swallow hard to fight another wave of emotion.
He was suddenly snapped out of thoughts as Hermione reared up and screamed at him, "How could you? How you could fuck her?"
"Shut up!" She yelled as she held up a splayed hand to stop him from speaking further. Then in a much calmer voice, she added, "Just...just don't talk."
If anyone else had spoken to him like that they would have suddenly found themselves unable to speak ever again, but he did as she instructed, and closed his mouth as he observed her carefully.
Hermione needed time to think. It wasn't that she didn't believe that he'd slept with Bellatrix. She knew Snape would have been quite young when Gus was conceived, and found herself thinking, He looks so good for fifty seven. And from what she'd heard about the revels, it was more than likely that he was so drunk or high that the bitch took advantage of him. At least that was what she wanted to believe. Although, if she was being honest, she didn't want to believe any of it because the instant she did, she had to acknowledge that her husband―her beautiful Gus―was the product of a what was no doubt a quick and dirty fuck between her former professor and that crazy bitch.
Severus knew exactly what she was thinking, but the fact was he knew the truth was so much worse.
Hermione found herself thinking the unthinkable. She was actually grateful to Snape's mentor, whom she assumed to be Voldemort at that time, for encouraging him to have Gus separated from her at birth.
As these thoughts whirled in her mind, she lowered her hand and placed it on the arm of her chair.
He took this as a sign that he could speak, but again she voiced her thoughts before he could open his mouth. Her voice was small and lost as she asked, "Is this a bad dream? I used to dream that you were still alive, you know. I hated what people said about you. It was just so unfair. Are you really here?"
Snape's heart threatened to thump out of chest as he said, "I promise I'm really here, sweetheart," before he walked around to her side of the desk and quickly knelt before her.
"Sweetheart?" She exclaimed as the epithet snapped her thoughts back into the present. "How dare you call me that? Who are you? The man I knew, father-in-law or not, would never call me that. In fact, you never had a good word to say about me, so—"
"That's not true," he said dismissively before muttering, "You just can't remember."
"What do you mean I just can't remember?" She asked suspiciously before a horrible thought hit her. "What happened to me? What did you do to me?"
"What did you do to me?" She repeated menacingly before trying to push her chair away from him. Unfortunately, her L-shaped desk prevented her from getting very far.
"I did what I had to do to keep you safe," Severus told her urgently. "Please, Hermione, I will tell you everything, but I need to—"
He reached forward tentatively to cup her cheek with his hand. Hermione looked at his long fingers. Gus' were the same. The first time Gus ever touched Hermione she couldn't shake the feeling that his touch was all so familiar. She kept staring at the hands of the man kneeling before her. What the fuck are you thinking? Her breathing was becoming erratic as her mind raced with thoughts that she could not believe she was thinking.
Now feeling even more threatened by his proximity, she growled, "Don't touch me!"
She went to reach for her wand, but found it was gone.
He sat back on his heels, and inclined his head to the side as he looked at her. "Do you honestly believe that I would be naïve enough not to expect this kind of reaction from you at some point? I know you too well to be unprepared. Your wand is safe, and I will return it to you, but first I need to talk to you, and I need you to stay calm because—"
"Tough shit!" She screamed at him as she managed to scramble over her desk and stumble towards the door.
"Impressive, but futile as I warded all the exits when I walked in here," he told her with an exasperated sigh as he hung his head, and pinched the bridge of his nose as he broke completely on the floor of her office.
Hermione held onto the door knob as if it provided some sort of protection, but as she looked at the man kneeling by her desk she realised he was sobbing.
"Please, Hermione," Snape pleaded. "Come and sit down. It was not my intention to scare you. I didn't want it to be like this, and what I have to tell you is hard enough as it is without you being—" His voice broke further, but he managed to compose himself enough to say, "I'll Langlock you and bind you to the chair if I have to," but his voice lacked any of its customary bite or sarcasm. If anything, he sounded utterly crushed as he ran his hand over his cheeks to wipe the tears away.
Hermione was suddenly overcome with conflicting emotions as she actually looked at the man kneeling beside her desk.
The last time she saw him was the day she thought he'd died, but here he was alive and well. She knew him as an unemotional, hard and cunning man, and yet her husband talked about him as a loving father, generous mentor with a wicked sense of humour. And the evidence before her seemed to support her husband's opinion of the man. Deep down she had always suspected him capable of being more than the cantankerous bastard everyone thought him to be. And it wasn't just because of what she knew about him and Harry's mother. But for the life of her she didn't now why she had ever become one of the man's staunchest supporters.
And then it dawned on her that whilst she was busy being shocked and confused by his reappearance, the news that he was Gus' father and that her husband had been sired with the woman who had tortured her all those years ago, she hadn't asked him why was he was there.
It was only then that it hit her, and she suddenly didn't want to contemplate why he was there, but she had to ask. "Why are you here?" She asked carefully, all sign of hostility slipping from her voice.
Finally, she asks, he thought to himself as he turned slowly to face her unashamed to show her the tears which had returned.
"Sit down, please," he directed her.
She took faltering steps towards one of the guest chairs and lowered herself into it tentatively. "Something's happened to Gus hasn't it?"
He nodded slowly.
"But it can't be that serious," she said almost hopefully, "because they always send department heads to give really bad news and you're definitely not Harry Potter."
He snorted softly at the mention of The-Boy-Who-Lived-Again and Hermione's assumption. He stood up and walked round to the other side of the desk, and pulled the other guest chair closer to Hermione before he sat down. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and steepled his fingers. He hung his head and swallowed hard.
How many times have I seen him do this? And why do I want to tuck his hair behind his ear? Hermione thought to herself.
"I'm afraid, Hermione, that although Augustus led you to believe both personally and professionally that Mr Potter was his department head I can assure you that he is not, and so it would not be his place to inform you of anything. Gus was one of my Unspeakables," he told her as his voice broke completely.
Hermione's eyes widened as she heard this. It wasn't just because she'd heard that her husband was an Unspeakable but because—
"You said was. Why would you say was?" Hermione asked urgently as she felt her heart trying to break out of her chest.
He pressed his lips together and closed his eyes, which only caused her to panic more. Her breathing was uneven, and all he wanted to do was reach across and take her hand. Who was he trying to fool? He wanted to pull her onto his lap, wrap her up in his arms and protect her from everything. It wouldn't be the first time. He just wished someone would walk into the room right now and offer him a way out of telling her. Hell, he would have done anything not to have to acknowledge what he was about to tell her.
He tried to compose himself, but he knew it was hopeless, so he decided just to give it his best shot and hide behind his stoicism. "Mrs Hermione Rosier, as the Head of the Unspeakable department it is with regret that I must inform you that your—"
He felt the tears begin to trickle down his cheeks as Hermione sat there stunned, shaking her head in disbelief as he spoke to her. He prayed for some miracle, but it wasn't forthcoming, and he pressed on. "—your husband, Augustus Severus Snape, was...he was...killed in the line of duty. The cause of death has yet to be determined, and a full investigation is underway."
If Severus had been dealing with a widow that he didn't know; if he'd been dealing with a widow who wasn't his daughter-in-law; if he'd been dealing with anyone but Hermione, he would have carried on informing the bereaved of certain protocols that needed to be observed. But he had just formally acknowledged the death of his son and all he could say was, "I'm sorry, Hermione. I'm so, so sorry. He was so close to solving the case. I can't believe that when he left my office yesterday that it was the last time I'd ever talk to him. He loved you so much."
Hermione sat there in complete silence, her face expressionless as the man before her buried his face in his hands and sobbed.
It was only when there was a sudden violent banging against her office door that they both looked at each other, and Hermione felt something that she knew was missing click back into place. She was just unable to pinpoint what it was.
The banging was accompanied by Harry's voice as he yelled, "Hermione open the door. Please, love, I know you're in there. Are you alright? For fuck's sake open this door before I break it down."
Severus wandlessly dismantled the wards and Harry, surprised by the fact the door now opened, came stumbling into Hermione's office.
He looked at Hermione, and asked urgently, "Are you al...?" His eyes widened as he took in the still imposing figure of Severus Snape sat by his friend. Finally, Harry found his voice again, and said "So, it's true. You're alive?"
"Now is not the time, Mr Potter," Severus cautioned as he suddenly felt Hermione's hand slip over his.
"No, you're right. I've just been told. All these years we've corresponded, but I never knew it was you. I just wish the reason you decided to reveal yourself was more..." His voice trailed off as he watched Hermione instinctively walk over to Severus, curl up on his lap and begin to cry. "I suppose this is a time for family," Harry conceded as he looked at the pair of them succumbing to their grief.
"You're as good as family to her, Harry," Severus choked out as he wrapped his arms around Hermione gently.
The younger wizard felt tears run down his face. "He was a good man. Just like his father, " Harry admitted before he asked wistfully, "Why does it always happen to you?"
Severus looked up at him, and his stomach turned as he saw Lily's eyes again. "What?"
"Everyone you love dies," Harry whispered as he bit his bottom lip.
"Not everyone," Snape whispered as his lips ghosted over Hermione's hair.
Augustus Severus Snape―Rosier was his cover name―was buried in a small cemetery near Hermione's house in East Finchley three weeks later. She'd asked Severus if there was anywhere he wanted Gus to be buried, but he insisted that his son's final resting place should be near to his widow.
Following an intensive investigation into Gus' death, the coroner recorded a verdict of Death by Misadventure. In other words, he had made a mistake. Severus felt numb. His son had made an elementary mistake, and it ate away at the Potions Master. It was on that day that he resigned from the Ministry.
The Potters, Scamangers and Weasleys―even Ron―flocked to Hermione's side in her darkest hour, but Harry was mindful to keep Severus close and respect his position in Hermione's family. After all, who else did he have?
After the funeral, however, Severus tried to stay away from Hermione and her circle of friends. His sudden re-emergence into society was bittersweet. There was those who welcomed him back with open arms, and there were those who wanted to see him dead.
When the press released the news that Severus was still alive, the articles revealed that Dumbledore had informed the then Minister for Magic, Scrimgeour that he had asked Severus to end his suffering, and had bargained so that not only would Severus survive the war, but no charges would be brought against the dark-haired wizard. However, this was on the understanding that Severus Snape would disappear from public view and become an Unspeakable. He was initially to resume his role as a spy, but what was not revealed was the personal price Severus had to pay for this deal.
The Potions division of the Unspeakable office had developed a close enough match to an anti-venom for Nagini. Being a spy was inherently dangerous, and they knew Voldemort could discover Severus' allegiances one day, so they prepared for all eventualities. His cuff buttons had a Protean charm cast on them so that a team could rush to his aid should he be seriously injured, and he had been taking the anti-venom for months before the final attack. When Hermione saw Severus take his final breath it was when he passed out from blood loss. The moment the trio left with Severus' memories, a medical team arrived to assist the fallen man.
It was around the time of Severus' resignation that Minerva McGonagall announced that she was stepping down as Headmistress of Hogwarts, and for reasons which defied all logic to Severus, he was asked to resume his role of Headmaster. With reluctance, he accepted. It meant he could keep his distance from Hermione, even though the very idea killed him, but ast least she would know where he was should his daughter-in-law ever want answers to the questions she'd asked him on that fateful day in her office.
Meanwhile, Hermione tried to carried on. She hated the emptiness of their house, and after a few weeks she moved in with the Potters at Grimmauld Place. She lost her appetite. She felt nauseous all the time. She worried about everything and wished she could have one day without a blinding headache.
It was after she came home from work one evening and immediately ran to the toilet to be sick that Ginny visited Hermione in her room later that night and sat next to her on the bed. After the ensuing discussion, the red-haired witch advised her friend that now would be a good time to get in touch with her father-in-law.
And so two days later, Hermione found herself in the Headmaster's office at Hogwarts sitting opposite Severus Snape, who didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the news that he was to become a grandfather.
A/N 2: This work does not have a beta so all mistakes are my own. I will tidy this all up if necessary at some point but I don't want to overburden my beta at the moment...or ever for that matter!