He would never admit to liking the brat. That wasn’t his way, not really. He tolerated her company though. Sometimes, he even felt calmer in her company. The cat would purr more when the two of them sat together. It was nice. Severus would sit and meditate, simple meditation techniques that he had been taught by the Muggle therapist he had never told anyone but her that he visited. She attempted to help him to get used to the idea of talking to someone who knew the situation he had put himself in, but he only told her snippets here and there, talking into the ether, not acknowledging her in any way.
“You know, Albus used to like to make me wait to go to Poppy until after I’d given my report. I’d stand there, shaking and bloody from all the abuse I’d suffered at Tom’s hand and wonder… ‘which one of them is truly the monster?’ and sometimes, I didn’t even know the answer myself.”
“You know, Albus gave me nine months to prepare to kill him and then proceeded to treat me like trash so it wouldn’t hurt my soul or hurt me as much. He didn’t want anyone else to have Horcruxes like Tom had.”
“You know, that last year here without anyone, was the hardest of my life. And considering how hard my life has been, that’s saying something.”
“You know,” he said softly one day, talking more to the cat than to her, “when I first saw you here, in my garden, I didn’t know what to say. All I wanted was to yell and scream at you to just leave me alone and stop being so damn noisy in my garden. But it wasn’t the noise…”
“It wasn’t the noise I hated, you know, it was the fact that you were so very happy. What right did you have to be happy? You fought in the war, you lost people…why were you happy?”
One day he spoke directly to her, instead of the cat. He stared at her, practically pinning her to the ground with his staring, and opened his mouth, closing and opening it twice before he shook himself and then opened his mouth a third time, blurting out the most awkward sentence she had ever heard from me.
“Would you…are you…that is…might I consider you a friend?” She looked at him, surprised he even had to ask and then it hit her that he probably had never had a friend, after Lily Evans Potter of course.
“Sir, you talk to me, you smile at me when you think I’m not looking, you haven’t snapped at me in months and, technically speaking, I am barely a student anymore, yet I come back to this garden every day, especially when I know that you are here. The only thing missing is an offer of an Apprenticeship and then you will be able to keep me around Hogwarts for longer. Once I get my exam results, I think we can suggest that we will definitely be friends.”
“To hell with the exam results, I’ll offer you an Apprenticeship right now if I get to keep you as a friend.” The words were out of his mouth before he had a chance to even think. She looked at him in surprise and blushed, smiling at him prettily.
“You can keep me. Can I keep you Severus?”