Hermione climbed the stairs of her building, her arms full of groceries. When she made it to the landing her flat was located on, she carefully walked along the hall. Her arms ached from the weight of the bags. I should have just done two trips, Hermione thought to herself, shaking her head.
"Jean, do you need help?" a voice asked.
Hermione peeked around her groceries and saw Eileen, a usually bitter old woman who lived in the flat beneath hers. "Hi Eileen. Would you mind getting my door?" Hermione asked, handing her key.
Eileen shuffled over and opened the door. She stepped aside to allow Hermione entry before walking in as well.
"Thank you," Hermione said, giving her a smile. She quickly placed her groceries on the counter. "What were you doing up here?"
The woman scowled. "You shouldn’t be so nosy, Jean."
Hermione laughed. "You're rather nosy yourself, but all right, you don’t need to tell me." She began to unpack her things.
"Well, I suppose I was wondering if I could borrow some sugar cubes. I've run out."
Hermione stopped and turned towards the woman she considered her friend. "Of course, let me get you some." She knew that Eileen struggled to pay her bills, so she didn’t mind helping her out every so often. The woman had a son who lived abroad somewhere, but he rarely contacted her. It was just Eileen, and after her husband passed away from cirrhosis, she was left with very little money. Hermione had grown to care for her, despite the woman being incredibly rude at times. However, despite her faults, Eileen was also very insightful and straightforward – just the type of person Hermione wanted in her life.
After packing up some sugar cubes, she handed them to Eileen. "If you need anything else, just let me know."
Eileen briefly smiled. "Thank you, Jean. Have a good night, dear." She saw herself out of Hermione's flat, closing the door behind her.
Hermione finished putting away her groceries before collapsing onto the couch, utterly exhausted. It had been a long day of work at the school she worked in. She was the librarian in the primary school located down the street. She usually adored her job, but today one of her six-year-old students decided they would rip apart a few of the picture books on frogs. Hermione had done her best to tape the books back together, but one of them had been damaged beyond repair and she couldn't use magic in a Muggle school.
She was happy, though, happier than she had been while living in the wizarding world. Both a disastrous relationship and job had led her to second-guessing her choice to stay in the wizarding world. She had had a career at the Ministry of Magic working as a clerk for the Auror office, but she had quickly realised she was just an office lackey and would never be anything more. They never gave her anything important to do, yet Ron and Harry were allowed to begin Auror training despite the fact that the two of them had never gone back for the NEWTs.
Ron had been something else entirely. The two of them had always clashed as friends, so she didn’t know why she had thought it'd be different with them as a couple. They had argued constantly, and despite their good moments, Hermione still couldn’t figure out why she had stayed with him for as long as she did.
Ron had been incredibly bawdy during their relationship. He was always making inappropriate jokes about their disappointing sex life, making suggestive comments while they were around other people, and just being very indecent in general. Unable to take it anymore, she had broken things off with him after a mere six months. The two of them would never have lasted much longer as far as she was concerned. Ron hadn’t taken it very well, and unsurprisingly, his family had sided with him on the matter.
Tired of feeling useless and unwanted, Hermione made the decision to leave the wizarding world and live as a Muggle. She kept in contact with some people, mainly Minerva, Luna, and Neville, but no one else bothered to keep in touch. Harry had gone his own way, which she respected. He had changed during his experiences during the war, and so had she. She supported him in his choices, but the two were not as close as they had once been.
Hermione stood, stretching her arms above her head as she yawned. Feeling utterly exhausted, she decided that she would have a bath and get some rest. Crookshanks rubbed against her legs, and she smiled. Despite getting older, he was still her most supportive friend. "Love you, Crooks," she said, reaching down and scratching his ear. "Time for some dinner for you first, hmm?"
A few days later, Hermione found herself standing outside of apartment 12's door. She had thought to drop by Eileen’s and see if she wanted some of the new tea she had just purchased. Reaching up, she knocked on. Eileen appeared moments later, an excited expression on her face. "Jean, come in!"
Hermione stepped inside. Seeing Eileen so excited was surprising. She was even more shocked to see that Eileen's flat was meticulously clean. It was obvious the older woman had spent some time dusting and sweeping the flat. "What's going on, Eileen? Is everything all right?"
"I've heard from my son!" Eileen said excitedly.
"Your son?" Hermione asked, arching her brow. Eileen rarely shared about her family, only briefly mentioning tidbits here and there. "You must be excited."
"It's been years since I've seen the lad. He was injured a few years ago, and moved to North America shortly after healing up. We've talked a bit, but he's just said that he'll be here within the next day or so." Hermione noticed a mischievous glint appeared in Eileen's eyes as she spoke. "I think that you should meet him."
"Meet him?" Hermione repeated, her stomach suddenly swirling with nerves. "Eileen, I'm not really interested in meeting that type of 'someone'." She flushed, hoping that Eileen wouldn’t be insulted.
Eileen waved her hand, dismissing her protest. "Neither is he, Jean, which is why the two of you will hit it off perfectly."
Hermione closed her eyes, knowing that Eileen was stubborn and that there was no way that she would be able to get out of it. "I never pegged you as a matchmaker."
"There's a lot you don’t know about me," Eileen replied. "Come over for dinner tomorrow night. He should be here by then and the two of you can meet."
Hermione bit her lower lip, unsure of how to respond. She quickly wracked her brain, looking for any excuse to say no. Eileen's dark eyes stared into hers, and Hermione trembled. It was as if the old woman could see into her very soul. "All right," Hermione consented. She knew there was no other choice.
"Wonderful," Eileen said, a smug expression on her face. "Why don’t you make some apple pie to bring? You make a lovely pie."
"Sure thing," Hermione said, smiling softly. She frequently baked for Eileen, and the two often had tea together while eating dessert. It was those types of moments that she cherished. Those were the moments that made moving to the Muggle world worthwhile. "Well, I'll be off then." Hermione inched towards the door. "I'll see you tomorrow evening, Eileen." She turned and left, closing the door quickly behind her. She exhaled loudly; she was not looking forward to tomorrow at all.
Severus crossed his leg over his knee, trying to get comfortable on the hard train seat. After much traveling, he was almost home. It had been seven years since he had seen his mother… Seven years since he had left the United Kingdom.
While he had enjoyed his time abroad, Severus knew that it was indeed time for him to return home. His mother was getting older, and he suspected that she needed him more than she let on. Spending some time together would be good for them both.
His hand reached up and pulled his scarf tighter around his neck. While he wasn’t self-conscious about the scarring on his neck, he knew it could be a displeasing sight to others. Not wanting to be stared at by small children or ignorant adults, he covered it up with a deep green scarf as he often did when out of his home.
Severus was also looking forward to visiting with Minerva. He had written to his old colleague to let her know that he'd be returning to England. She had written back, pleased, and the two had made plans to meet for a pint at the Hog's Head.
Looking out the window, he watched as the green rolling fields passed by. While he had enjoyed living in an American city, nothing compared to the English countryside.
It was good to be coming home.
Hermione stood before the mirror, fussing over her appearance. Her usual glamour was in place, making her hair appear more tamed and her eyes slightly blue. She wasn’t sure why she was so worried about how she looked; she didn’t care if Eileen's son liked her or not.
Crookshanks rubbed against her leg, leaving orange hairs all over. Reaching down, Hermione scratched him behind the ear before deciding that she looked nice enough. A sweater, jeans, and a pair of flats were nice enough for dinner. Picking up the apple pie she had made last night and locking her flat after herself, she carefully made her way down a flight of stairs.
Quietly humming to herself, she walked along the hall. She stopped when she saw someone standing outside Eileen's door, knocking on it. She couldn’t see his face, but he was wearing black trousers and a black jacket. The only spot of color was a green scarf tied around his neck.
That must be Eileen's son, Hermione thought to herself. Putting on a smile, she walked up to him and stopped behind him. "You must be Eileen's son, I'm Jean," she said.
He turned around and Hermione felt the air whoosh out of her lungs. She gaped at him, knowing full well that she looked like a fool.
"Oh, hello," he said curtly. "Can I help you?"
She stood in the doorway, unsure of what her next move should be. She was shocked, frozen in place. She had never in a million years imagined that Professor Snape would be Eileen's son. Then again, she had no reason to ever suspect that he was. Eileen never told Hermione her last name, and the only pictures she had of her son were baby pictures. Adorable, bare-bottomed pictures of a black haired baby she now realised was Snape… Oh Merlin. She had seen naked baby pictures of Snape.
Millions of questions and thoughts ran through her mind, leaving her confused and gaping like an idiot. What should she do? What would he do if he found out that it was her?
The door opened, revealing Eileen. "Severus, Jean, I see the two of you have met."
"Mother, what on earth is she doing here?" Snape said to his mother, his eyes narrowing angrily.
"Come now, Severus, she'll be joining us for dinner. In with the both of you, dinner is waiting."
"Thank you, Eileen," Hermione said quickly, stepping into the flat. Her eyes locked with Professor Snape's briefly before she tore her gaze away. She still couldn’t believe that he was Eileen’s son.
"Mother, I can't believe you did this," Snape hissed to Eileen when Hermione had moved further into the kitchen. "I told you to stop trying to set me up."
"And I keep telling you that you need to stop being so negative, Severus. You're a handsome man who deserves to be happy. Jean is a nice woman, and I think the two of you will really hit it off."
"I doubt that," Snape grumbled angrily. “You should have seen the way she stared at me in the hall, as if I was hideous.”
"Indulge an old woman," Eileen said, giving him a small smile. "That's my boy," she said when he gave a sigh of defeat, and carried a platter into the dining room.
Hermione wisely pretended that she hadn't heard their whole conversation. "Eileen, this looks lovely." Dinner did look scrumptious. There was a baked chicken, roasted potatoes, and green beans. She placed her apple pie on the table as well and turned to face the two of them.
"Sit down, both of you," Eileen said, oblivious to the awkwardness between them both. "Let's eat."
Hermione helped herself to some food, hands trembling slightly from nerves. She discreetly watched Snape eat and began to look him over. She noticed that he looked better than the last time she had seen him, which had been while he was healing at St. Mungo's. He looked…healthier. There were no circles under his eyes and his face wasn’t as thin as she recalled it being. He looks good, she thought to herself, eyes widening when she realised what she had just thought.
Oh, sweet Merlin, how am I going to get through this dinner?
Severus scowled at his mother as he served himself some potatoes. He should have known that the blasted woman would go and try and set him up once more. He wanted to be angry with her, but a part of him couldn’t. He knew that she was only really trying to help, and would likely never stop.
"So, Jean," he began, deciding that he would indeed indulge his mother. "What do you do for work?"
She put down her fork, clearing her throat. "I work as a librarian in the school down the street."
"Really?" Severus asked. "Do you like to read?"
"I do," she said, an excited smile on her face. Clearly a subject of interest to her. "I like to read a little bit of everything. Classics, mystery, romance… I've always felt at home in libraries."
"I was the same in my youth," Severus shared. His eyes raked over Jean and he conceded that she was quite an attractive woman. She had lovely blue eyes and her hair was a caramel colour and slightly curly. She had plump lips and long lashes… things he found physically attractive in a woman.
"Many people don’t care to read," Jean said. "Some of my students absolutely loathe spending time in the library, but there are a select few who truly enjoy it."
"Those will be the bright ones," Severus commented. He could see why his mother thought he and Jean would make a good match. ...So far.
"Indeed," Jean said, taking a sip of her drink. "What about you?" she asked. "Your mother said you spent time abroad?"
"I spent some time living in New York City. I studied chemistry there."
"Chemistry?" He thought he saw something flash in her eyes. "I was never good at that," she whispered, laughing slightly.
"It's not for everyone," he agreed with a tilt of his head. "Only the truly talented will succeed in a field such as that."
"Will you pursue that field?" she asked.
"I've considered teaching."
"Have you really?"
Severus narrowed his once. He could have sworn that he once again saw a flash of amusement in her eyes. "I have. We shall see, though."
The rest of dinner went well, Severus supposed. He found out that Jean was rather like him – she preferred the company of books to people and had a good sense of humour. She dealt with his mother's crassness perfectly as well, which was impressive to Severus. Many people were often put off by his mother, and it was refreshing to see someone who was up to the challenge she put forth.
Blast it. Severus turned his gaze to his mother, who was being surprisingly silent. He noticed the small smirk on her face and sighed. As much as he loathed to admit it, his mother may have succeeded in finally setting him up with someone.
Hermione served Snape and Eileen a slice a pie before cutting one for herself. "I hope you like it, Severus," she said, hating that she was blushing for what seemed like the millionth time that night. "Your mother really enjoys it."
"That I do," Eileen said, a smile on her face. "I know a good thing when I see it." She winked at them both, causing them to avert their gazes from each other.
As Hermione ate, she was torn over her thoughts. She wanted to reveal to Snape who she really was, but a part of her was hesitant. She was enjoying herself with Severus, and was pleased to hear that he had been doing so well. She had often wondered about him – he had disappeared without a trace.
What am I going to do? I can't just tell him the truth, he'll be so angry. She knew that Snape had a temper. She'd hate to see it released upon her.
"This is delicious, Jean," Snape said between bites. "Thank you for bringing it."
"It's an old family recipe," Hermione said. "My mother taught it to me before moving away."
"You'll have to pass along my thanks," Snape said. "Truly. So sweet, yet the apples are still crunchy."
Hermione smiled warmly, blushing once more. "Thank you, Severus." She looked and saw that everyone had finished. "Eileen, thank you for dinner, but I best be going."
"Thank you for coming," Eileen stood, casting a glance towards Snape. She picked up her dish and headed towards the kitchen.
"Jean," Snape said, coming towards her. "Would you care to have dinner with me tomorrow?" He held out his hand for her to shake.
Hermione panicked. "I…" She reached out to shake his hand, the impulse automatically. She let out a small yelp as a spark zapped between them, emitting a bright white light. Her eyes widened when she felt her glamour fade away.
"Professor," she said, her mind reeling as she tried to figure out why her glamour suddenly faded. Her eyes widened and her body froze in panic when she saw how angry he was.
"Professor?" Eileen asked, having observed the whole thing from the kitchen doorway. "What do you mean, Jean?"
"'Jean'? Mother, this is Hermione Granger," Severus said, turning to face his mother, furious. "She was a student of mine – friend to the great Harry Potter," he sneered.
Hermione didn’t know what to say. "Eileen, I—"
"It seems you have a lot of explaining to do, young lady," Eileen said, a small smile on her face. "Now, I can see that Severus is ready to hex you."
"Mother, did you know?" he asked curtly, staring at her. "Out of everyone in Britain, it had to be her you invited to dinner?"
"So you're a witch, then?" Eileen asked, ignoring Snape. She was still smiling "I never would have guessed."
"My parents are Muggles," Hermione responded, inching slightly towards the door. She kept glancing at Snape, who wore an unamused expression on his face.
"So why did you decide to live a Muggle life?" Eileen arched a brow at her.
"I could ask the same thing of the two of you," Hermione countered.
"Hermione," she corrected her. "You might as well call me Hermione now, it's my first name."
"Hermione, we can have plenty of time to share tales later. I believe you and Severus need to have a talk."
"Mother, I do not think that is necessary." He moved closer to her. "I'd like to retire for the evening."
"No," Eileen said firmly. "Just talk with her, Severus," she whispered. "Hermione stayed the entire evening despite knowing who you are. I think that's worth discussing."
"Mother, no," Snape hissed.
"I'll give you both some time to talk," Eileen said, stepping away from Snape and revealing that she had been holding her wand. She cast a spell, and both doors to the dining room slammed shut.
Hermione groaned, knowing that the two of them were stuck in there together until Eileen decided to let them out, and who knew how long that would be.
"Miss Granger," Snape said, turning to face her.
"Call me Hermione," she said. "I haven’t been your student in years, Professor."
His eyes narrowed momentarily before he gave a curt nod of his head. "Call me Severus, then."
"Severus," Hermione said softly. Never in a million years had she thought Professor Snape would invite her—knowing it was her—to use his first name. "Sir, I… I don’t know what to say."
"Was this some sort of game for you? I bet you can't wait to find Potter and tell him all about your 'date' with Professor Snape."
Hermione bristled. "Severus, I don’t even speak with Harry anymore, so you don’t need to worry about that." She felt her cheeks warm "I would never betray your confidence by doing that."
"Oh? I find that hard to believe," Snape said angrily.
Hermione crossed her arms. "You barely know me, Severus. I'm not the girl you knew years ago. I've changed, and you have too."
Severus let out a huff. He moved towards her, towering over her in an attempt to intimidate her. "Why did you stay tonight?"
"Because I care about your mother," Hermione replied honestly. "She's a good woman. When she invited me to have dinner with the two of you, I never expected you to be her son. She never shared her last name nor the fact that she was a witch."
"Why?" He asked finally.
"Why what?" She took a seat. If they were going to be stuck in here speaking, she might as well be comfortable.
"Why did you leave the wizarding world? Why don’t you speak to Potter?" Snape hesitated before taking a seat next to her.
"I hated my job at the Ministry," Hermione began. She told him about how she had constantly tried speaking with Kingsley and the Department Head about some of her ideas, but that she was constantly put down. About how she was tired of being unwanted and unappreciated.
"Ron was an absolute waste of time," Hermione said with a huff, refusing to go into further detail about her failed relationship at the moment, until the words boiled out of her, glad to have someone to vent to who knew the party involved.
Severus observed her as she spoke. Miss Granger – no, Hermione – certainly looks well. I never expected her to be the type to leave the wizarding world behind. She was a brilliant witch in school.
As Severus listened to her tale of life after the war, he found himself understanding her. He was unsurprised that the Ministry had given her a pointless position, but he was surprised about Potter and Weasley. A poor mistake on their part. Then again, the Ministry was known for its poor decision making.
Weasley. Severus fought back a rude remark when Hermione shared briefly about their relationship. He had thought Molly Weasley would have raised him better than to treat a woman as he did. No woman deserved a man so crass – especially not Hermione.
He glanced over her appearance. Her hair was as curly and unruly as he recalled it being without the glamour, but the features he had found attractive remained. The years had seen her face fill out. She looked like a woman now, not the young girl he had known as a student. No, she was different… More mature and refined. Something inside him stirred. Damn his mother.
"What about you? Why did you leave?" she asked, startling him from his thoughts.
"I..." He paused, clearing his throat. "I spent some time in New York City. After Potter spilled my entire life story to the press, I had no desire to stay in England where I would be harassed by people. As soon as I was discharged from St. Mungo's, I boarded up my home, said good-bye to my mother, and bought a plane ticket to the United States. I, too, lived as a Muggle, although I occasionally ventured into the wizarding population there."
"What was it like there?" she asked and he could see the familiar spark of her curiosity. That aspect of her hasn’t changed.
"Wonderful. People aren’t as friendly there, but being in a busy city was wonderful. I did enroll in a Muggle college as I mentioned earlier and took some chemistry courses – it was fascinating. After a while, though, I'll admit that I became a bit lonely. America was brilliant, but it was starting to lose its appeal. It just wasn’t home. I wrote to my mother and told her that I would be returning, and here we are."
"Here we are," she repeated softly, her cheeks turning pink once more.
The more she blushed, the more Severus realised that he didn’t mind it so much. In fact, she looked rather attractive with her rosy cheeks.
Severus realised that Hermione had been right. It had been years since they'd last seen each other. She was no longer his student, and he was no longer her professor. They barely knew each other. Perhaps it would be right to change that, he thought to himself.
"Have you kept in contact with anyone from Hogwarts?" Hermione asked as there was a lull in the conversation.
"Yes, with Minerva," Severus replied.
"Hermione smiled warmly at him. "I write to Minerva as well. I'm sure she'll be happy to hear that you're back in England."
"Indeed," Severus nodded. "I've arranged to meet with her."
"That's good," Hermione said softly. "Severus, I… I wanted to tell you who I was when I saw your face, but I wasn’t sure how. I knew you'd be furious."
"I was furious," Snape said, briefly smiling at her. "I do understand your reasons for living as a Muggle as they were slightly similar to mine. You needed to get away, and I respect that." He paused, considering her. "I am curious as to why your glamour fell when we touched."
Hermione nodded. "I'm not sure, either. I'll have to look it up when I get back to my flat. Perhaps it could be due to my magic recognising another magical being?" She shook her head. "No, I've touched your mother plenty of times, it would have done the same then."
"You'll have to research it," Severus replied. "Perhaps I could help."
"Perhaps," Hermione replied coyly. She stood. "Severus, thank you for speaking with me."
"Have you two finished?" Eileen poked her head into the dining room with oddly perfect timing. "Good, I see no dead bodies or broken bones. You've survived your discussion?"
"Yes, Mother," Snape said, standing. "Hermione, I'll walk you to your flat."
Eileen looked pleased at those words. "Hermione, thank you for coming over."
"I'm sorry for not being truthful with you, Eileen," Hermione said, her cheeks turning red slightly.
"No need to apologise," Eileen said with a wave of her hand. "You had your reasons." She smiled warmly at Hermione.
"Thank you for a lovely evening, Eileen. I'll be just upstairs if you need anything, but I doubt that since Severus is home now."
"You're always welcome here," Eileen said, touching her briefly on the shoulder before heading to the kitchen.
"Shall we?" Severus asked. He picked up the dish containing the rest of her apple pie.
"Of course," Hermione said. "I just live on the next floor up." The two of them headed out of Eileen's flat and towards the stairs. Hermione wanted to say something, but she didn’t want to be too forward or awkward. She nibbled her lower lip nervously. Glancing at Severus, she saw that his face was expressionless, giving her no hints if her own advances would be welcome.
"This is me," she announced, standing outside her flat door. "Thank you, Severus."
They stood in awkward silence for a moment, fidgeting.
"Hermione, would you go out with me tomorrow night? I know I asked before, but I wanted you to know the offer still stands. I would like to take you to dinner."
"Yes!" she exclaimed too quickly. "Er, that is, yes, Severus. I'd like that very much."
He smiled at her, his eyes softening as he gazed at her. He cupped her cheek and for a second, Hermione thought he was going to kiss her. Her heart raced and disappointment spread throughout her as he removed his hand. "Until then," Severus said. He handed her the dish and turned and left.
Hermione watched him walk down the hall, her eyes glued to his arse. I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on his arse, she thought, a wicked smirk appearing on her face. Feeling rather giddy, she stepped into her flat and did a small twirl.
She couldn’t wait until tomorrow night.