A/N: Hi, long time no see, everyone! I am so so sorry for my incredible inconsistency with updating this story, but I promise I will never abandon it, no matter how long it takes.
Thank you for all those that reviewed!
rizzo87, what a great idea! I hope you like what I did with it, it's not quite the same, but I liked this better. I hope you do too!
All the reviews really inspire me to keep writing, knowing that at least some people actually like it really helps too! This is my longest chapter yet, and it's actually kind of chapter length, although I cannot guarantee that the chapters will be this length from now on. They probably won't be.
I apologize for any errors, I was really eager to finally post this so I probably missed a few.
Anyways, I won't keep you any longer, go forth and enjoy! (Hopefully)
Don't forget to review, it'll help make your own reading experience better as well!
"When I said we weren't mad at you, that didn't mean you don't have some serious explaining to do, missy." The redhead did not hesitate in scolding Hermione as soon as she walked in the door.
Dorothy's was a quaint little muggle café at the intersection of two less-frequented avenues. Just two blocks from Hermione's flat, it was one of her favourite places to come and think, or to get away from the wizarding world for a while. The café had outdoor and indoor seating areas, the latter of which was almost completely empty, what with the beautiful weather. Outside, the elegant swirling metal and glass tables were almost all occupied, their current owners reading, eating, chatting, and all combinations of. The fresh spring air carried a light breeze and miniscule delicate butterflies fluttered in and around people's heads. A wrought-iron fence wrapped the cobblestoned sitting area with a safe boundary from the nearby street.
The tables in the outdoor section seemed the most inviting to both girls. Ginny and Hermione automatically walked over to a small table in the corner without conferring. They both knew that it was the best place for talking when one didn't wish to be overheard. After collapsing into the mismatched cushioned chairs, Hermione spoke.
"Of course not, Gin. I would expect no less of you thatn to wonder what on earth is wrong with me."
Ginny smiled. "Hey," she said jokingly. "I never said anything was wrong with you. Although now that you mention it…" she broke off, grinning at her best friend.
"Hey now, this is not the time or place to talk about my extensive list of faults. Now, before you start asking me endless bouts of questions, let me just say one thing. I'll answer as best as I can, but, honestly, I'm not quite sure myself why I acted that way."
"Well, we were all pretty astonished. But… Hermione, you were… well… quite a bit more reactive and angry than the rest of us. Really, I think we all expected Harry to react the worst, and he was the first to warm up to Snape! Not you! That was certainly not expected. Even if we forget the fact that you're usually the most levelheaded of us all, you were never that close to him, you hated him, and he hated you even more."
"I know, and you're right! It's just… oh Gin, I don't know. When I saw him, after all those years of thinking he was dead… something… something broke. Y'know, he really was a good person. It didn't seem like it, but I mean he was acting as a double agent. He couldn't exactly be very nice to us, could he? And… well Harry was pretty much the reason for Lily's death, right? I-" Hermione broke off at the sight of Ginny's incredulous stare.
"No, I didn't mean it like that! You know I love Harry just as much as you do, just in a different way. I would never say anything against him. But, if Lily and James never had Harry, or even if Harry wasn't, well, Harry, Voldemort would have no reason to kill them. Harry would never have been part of that prophecy, etcetera. Oh, well I guess Lily and James were in the Order, but that was their choice and they knew the impending consequences. So when Lily was killed, Snape blamed Harry for it. Understandable, of course. And as Harry grew up to be 'The Boy Who Lived' and all that crap, arguably the most famous wizard alive, that would do nothing to tame Snape's hatred. Neither would the fact that he was so much like his father. James Potter; the man that tormented him all throughout school and, even worse, stole his best friend and secret love away from him and married her. So, he hated Harry. Being one of Harry's two best friends, that did no favours for me. And then there's the fact that I was an insufferable know-it-all. Oh you know it's true, you guys just didn't want to hurt my feelings." Hermione laughed at Ginny's shameful expression. "Is there a single teacher in the world that likes people like that? Probably, actually, but Snape was certainly not one of them."
"Hermione, I get it. There's plenty of reasons for him to hate you. What's your point?" Ginny grinned at Hermione's bashful blush. She could really get on a roll.
"Can I get you ladies anything?" The girls looked up, startled. An attractive young muggle waiter stood expectantly beside their table, notepad in hand.
"Oh! Erm… yes, please! Some tea would be lovely, thank you." Hermione flashed a warm smile as he nodded and hurried away, and then turned back to the topic at hand.
"Oh. Yes. Well, he really is a good person. He was working for Dumbledore the entire time, right? Not only that, but he worked so hard to pretend he was on Voldemort's side, which really made a difference. He devoted his whole life to defeating Voldemort, he died for it. Oh… well I guess he didn't. But he was willing to. And Ginny, he's so smart!"
"Wait. What does that have to do with anything? I get how he's really a good person, but what does his intelligence have to do with anything? "
"Oh… uh… nothing. Nothing. Just… an observation." Hermione was blushing again, although Ginny couldn't imagine why.
"Okay, this is all very interesting information, but what does any of this have to do with your reaction? Like, 'Oh, you're really a good guy and have loads of reasons to hate me but you have no right to hide from me for six years? 'What?"
Hermione faltered. She looked down at the table, up at the bright blue sky, then back down at her hands. The distraction she was looking for came when their attractive waiter came back holding a tray with two teacups, a teapot, and jars of cream and sugar. He placed it neatly down on their table. One nice thing about this café, unlike some others she had been to before, was the wait staff didn't pour your tea for you. That had always bothered her when people did that. As they started to prepare their drinks, the young man turned to leave.
"If you need anything else, feel free to ask!"
Hermione took her time pouring the tea. She slowly poured in the cream, watching with fascination as the liquid layered into picturesque clouds as it mixed with the tea. Ginny had already finished measuring out her sugar and dumping it into the cup when she looked up. She presumed that's where Ginny got some of her endless energy from. Hermione never took sugar herself, she liked her tea quite well without and didn't appreciate it when someone tried to convince her to try some.
"Well?" Ginevra stared unblinking at her friend.
"Gin, I really don't know! I feel like… like it's on the tip of my tongue. Or maybe somewhere deep down. Maybe I do know, and just can't admit it to myself. Maybe… I have no idea. All I know is that when that man pulled down his hood and I saw who it was, something snapped, something… changed. I don't know what to do, I don't know what I'll do next time I see him. Gin, I swear, I kept seeing him in the most random of places before this happened. He would run away whenever I saw him, and yet he kept appearing wherever I was. I don't know what's going on, or what to do about it. Why was he, of all people, following or… watching me? Why does he care what I do?"
Hermione sighed and slumped in her chair. Ginny, astounded by Hermione's unusual lack of great posture, realized the stress Hermione was putting herself under.
"'Mione, obviously I can't really help all that much, but you need to stop stressing out over this. You're putting so much pressure on yourself over something you can't control all that much, and it'll run you down. You did something and you don't know why, and who knows, you may never know. Just go with the flow, whatever happens, happens. And don't worry, I'll always be your wingman, sidekick, trusty leader and guide, or just a shoulder to lean on. I'll always be your best friend, and you can always count on me. Ron will come, and, well, Ron will probably go, to be honest. But I'll always be here."
"Oh no! Ron! Oh, what must he think of me now? Oh I've made such a fool of myself, everyone must be so… so… oh how am I supposed to show my face to any of them now?" Hermione started to breath faster, and Ginny recognized another panic attack coming on.
"Woooooaah, Hermione. Calm down. They don't think of you any differently. As I said, we were all startled at Snape's arrival. We were just surprised at the magnitude of your reaction. That's all." Hermione's breathing started to slow.
Hermione nodded meekly.
"Good, then let's pay for this and go for a walk." Ginny left a £5 note on the table, grabbed Hermione's hand and yanked her up.
Getting up and moving around having improved her mood a lot, Hermione started to actually look at the shops they were passing. A music shop loomed in front of them, and she dragged Ginny towards the entrance. She let go of Ginny at the entrance, not expecting her to like the same music. Straight to the rock section, letter B. There it was. The beautiful sight of dozens of albums by her all-time favourite band; The Beatles. This store was special, because it let you take a disc and play it in one of their new machines, which Hermione took full advantage of. Picking out one of her favourite songs on a CD, she slipped it into the player. As she turned up the volume (not too loud as to greatly disturb the other customers) she could hear a guitar playing.
It's been a hard day's night
And I've been working like a dog
It's been a hard day's night
I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you
I find the things that you do
Will make me feel all right
Ginny looked over from a couple aisles down and grinned widely when she heard the song. She sped over, and placed her hand on the volume knob.
"You guys don't mind?" She asked, more as a confirmation than a real question. There were only two other customers and an employee, all of whom shook their heads vigorously and motioned for her to turn the volume up. Up the volume went, until the melodic voices of the Beatles reverberated throughout the entire shop, and it became a small intimate jam session.
Ginny looked over at Hermione as she shook her head to the music, Her fiery hair flying loose of the constraints of an elastic band and waving everywhere. Hermione grinned sheepishly at her, not used to this kind of listening to music.
"You like the Beatles?" Hermione asked, surprised.
"Of course! Love 'em!" Ginny sighed as the song finished, but only spent a moment in despair. Before Hermione had a chance to respond, Ginny was back over at the Beatles section, fishing through the albums for the one she was obviously looking for.
"A little slower, but still a good old favourite." She held up her findings and skipped back to where Hermione was still standing at the CD player. "This might not right away seem like a good song to cheer you up, but you'd be surprised how well it works." Ginny flashed one more brilliant smile before sliding the disk into the slot.
Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better
"You think I'd be surprised? I love this song! It's always playing at home! It's pretty much the one thing I can always count on to make me feel better! How'd you know, you sly fox?"
Ginny laughed, and danced around with Hermione as the song continued.
Better better better better better better, oh
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Distracted by their elated dancing, neither girl noticed when a tall man clad in black strolled into the shop, and stopped in his tracks, surprised by the louder-than-usual music. He was even more surprised when he saw two heads dancing in the back rows, one with bushy brown hair, the other with fiery red. He laughed, usually a deep, throaty noise, but after the accident, it had been cut up into a strangled rumble. He decided, since he was no longer technically in hiding, to go and say hello.
As he approaced, the girls spun around, so that Hermione had her back to him, and Ginevra was facing him. She spotted him, and stopped dancing abruptly. A nervous and fearful expression spread its way over her face, but was soon covered by a somewhat fake look of happiness, her smile just a little too big, her eyes just a little too wide.
"What? Ginny, what's –" Hermione slowly turned around, and jumped back when she saw who was standing right in front of her.
"I… I can't… not yet…I'm sorry," Hermione turned and walked unnaturally quickly to the front of the shop, where she stepped out the open doorway and flopped onto the bench right outside the window.
"Oh, Professor! How nice to see you!" Ginny smiled a little too big, but Severus still returned it happily.
He pulled out his wand, and when Ginny gasped and jumped away, he laughed and shook his head. Waving it quickly, words appeared in the air.
Miss Weasley, I do not mean to harm you, this is just a means of communication I have taken to using as my original means have… not stayed intact.
The words flashed away, followed by new ones.
First, I am no longer a professor, so of course you do not have to address me as such, and second, I know it will take you all quite some time to get used to my presence again, so feel no need to act otherwise. I understand.
Ginny sighed. "Oh, thank you pro- sir, but I'm sure I will get used to it sooner than you guess. For others, though, I cannot guarantee. I apologize for Hermione, it seems your reappearance has hit her the hardest, and she is having trouble dealing with it. It is nice to know you're not dead, though."
Severus smiled. It is nice to know my survival is rejoiced, rather than dreaded. You have no need to apologize, she will come through eventually. When she does, please tell her I would like to say hello, and apologize. I will let you get on with your day, good afternoon, Miss Weasley.
The words were swept away as if with an invisible broom, and he swept off to a different aisle. Ginny noticed as she was walking out, however, that when she turned her back, Severus Snape went back to the rock section, letter B.