Disclosure: JK Rowling created and rightfully owns Harry Potter. I simply aim to give you a few happy minutes while we pretend we're reading an email from work, as we imagine our favorite book characters living on past Deathly Hallows.
"Minerva, it's Severus. Are you in?"
Minerva's voice floated through the fire. "Yes, Severus, come through."
Severus unfolded himself from the fireplace and quickly cast a cleansing charm.
"Have a seat, Severus," Minerva said, grinning.
"Damn Cheshire Cat," Severus joked.
"I am an old woman, Severus, surely you can allow me to enjoy the little play that got performed yesterday. O'Henry would be proud."
Severus rolled his eyes. "I'm losing my touch as a spy. For some reason, I didn't think I had to spy on Hogwarts to see what the woman I love was plotting behind my back. Especially because I assumed that you would have my back, Minerva," he said pointedly.
"Don't blame your idiocy on me, young man," she teased. "Had I known that you had given Hermione a second thought since you parted ways two years ago, I would have told you. My only fear now, is that I have lost my newest Charms apprentice and junior professor."
"If that were the case, she would be here with me," Severus stated levelly. "Professor? She didn't tell me that part. She simply said that she would be Filius' apprentice."
"She is too modest. Filius couldn't accept an apprentice along with his Deputy Headmaster duties, or else she would probably be a full Charms Mistress by now. She asked directly after the war, but we couldn't figure out how to make it work. She was the one who asked if she could take over teaching some of Filius' junior classes to free Filius to apprentice her. She is incredibly organized and motivated, so it won't be a huge burden on her. It will take her a full year longer, though. But for some reason," Minerva said sarcastically, "she wasn't too bothered about being here for three years." She paused to laugh. "Did you see her face when she figured out that you had taken a job at the Ministry to be with her instead?"
Severus scowled. "Can we get back to the issue at hand, Minerva?"
Minerva scowled right back at him. "Of course. You're here because you need to know if now is a good time for you to return to Hogwarts. Did you tell Hermione that you would be coming back this year?"
"Yes, but then I decided I would like to have a chance to court her before returning. It is rather hard to find a wife when you live at Hogwarts year-round."
"But now you think you might be able to find a wife," she said levelly. "That makes me happy, Severus. She deserves a mature man. A patient man. And you are a patient man, Severus." She looked at Severus fondly until he scowled again.
"Oh, do stop scowling. All right, to answer your question: yes, this is a good year to let Professor Slughorn return to retirement. If you ask Horace, any year is a good year to retire. I will send both of you parchments with details of when to come to the castle. Now, off with you. I have to floo the Minister of Magic and gloat."
Severus chuckled as he rose from his chair. "Thank you, Minerva. I'm ready to be back."
Minerva smiled. "And Hogwarts is ready for you again."
At the Welcoming Feast, Severus got there early and sat down in his chair. The other professors trickled in. Some stood chatting while others took their seat. Suddenly, he felt a presence behind him as Hermione was making her way toward him. Severus nodded at her and stood from his chair. "Professor Granger," he greeted her. She blushed prettily, and he pulled the chair out for her. For three months, they had been steadily facing the world, together.
Remembering Hermione's tirade in the library of Grimmauld Place, after the sorting, he casually leaned over to Hermione.
"I was so surprised, Miss Granger, to hear that you were returning to Hogwarts. Minerva and Filius must trust you a great deal to allow you to teach the younger students while still apprenticing. You intrigue me."
Hermione played along. "Thank you. It's so good to be back at Hogwarts. I was surprised to see that you, too, were returning this year. I had not heard from you in a very long time, Professor Snape."
"You must call me Severus. We are colleagues now. I insist."
Hermione smiled at him. "Well then, you must call me Hermione."
Severus was about to ask her if she would like to go on a date with him to Hogsmeade when he suddenly felt Hermione's hand on his thigh.
He chuckled darkly. "My, my, Hermione. You are very forward for a woman who just gave me permission to use her given name."
"Well, I know I'm young, Professor Snape, but I know what I want."
"Is that so?" Severus asked silkily.
"Yes, it is so. Why, when I was only eighteen, I brazenly kissed a man. He was much older than myself, quite the scandal. It was right out those doors in the Entrance Hall. I can see the spot from here."
"And do you always get what you want, Hermione?"
Her smile was the bright, beautiful smile of the young woman he fell in love with, and he smiled back at her.
"Eventually," she answered playfully, grabbing his hand above the table. She watched as Severus kissed her fingers softly. "Eventually."
Author's Note: Thank you for reading!