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The Half-Blood Prince and the Muggleborn by Hermione Clone
Chapter 4 : Chapter 3-Truths and Revelations
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 9


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Author's Note:

Hello again!

Sorry, this is going to be a bit long. Just a few housecleaning things I need to take care of.

I just have to say, I love all of the wonderful reviews I've been recieving lately. I love to get feedback, and I can't make this story the best it can be without your help. Thanks to all of you who have been reviewing, and I hope that you and many others will continue. I will answer every review, though it might take me a couple days.

*Quotes used from Chapter 28 "Snape's Worst Memory", Page 648 of Order of the Phoenix, U.S. Edition.*

Also, a quote made by Dumbledore is referenced. It can be found in Chapter 17 of the U.S. Edition of Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, page 298.

Thanks to everyone from the Forums who have helped me with this story. Special thanks goes to Alexaviera J Raven for helping with Hermione’s address, lune cat for help naming a Ministry Department, and to leent who helped me figure out Hermione’s career, which helped a bunch of other pieces of the puzzle fall into place. You guys are the greatest!

I’d also like to thank the academy...sorry, I couldn’t resist!

Enjoy!



Chapter 3-Truths and Revelations

Although it was the middle of summer, Severus Snape sat in an armchair by a roaring fire. He had a glass of wine that he had poured for himself over an hour ago, but it had remained virtually untouched. He looked at the photograph in his hand. It showed a scene of a boy and a girl, both about fifteen years old, frolicking and laughing. He smiled fondly at the memory of that day. It had been taken the summer before his fifth year, when Lily was still friends with him...

Severus loved the freedom the summer brought. He didn't need to be concerned with what his schoolmates thought about his friendship with Lily. He was free to spend as much time as he wanted with the girl, no, she wasn't a girl any longer. He got to spend time with the woman he loved.

At least, he thought it was love. He had never received much of it from his parents or anyone else before, so he didn’t really know what it was. But from the way his chest seemed to swell every time he saw her, he figured that these feelings had to be love.

"You can't catch me!" Lily taunted, her hair blowing brilliantly in the wind.

A smile quirked itself on Severus' face. "Yes I can!" he called back to her in just as playful and expression. They darted across the field, Severus in hot pursuit. Her sweet laughter reached his ears, and acted as a stimulant. He suddenly accelerated and wrapped his arms around her. She went down with him on top of her.


Severus couldn't tell if she was laughing or crying. "Are you alright?" he asked anxiously. He hadn't meant to hurt her...

"I-I-I'm fine," she panted, gasping for air. A bright smile still played across her features.

She was definitely laughing.


Her mother had been the one to take the picture. He could remember vividly how shocked the woman had been when the camera had emitted a puff of smoke along with the flash. He and Lily hadn't been able to stop laughing for what had seemed like hours.

He knew that Lily had begun to doubt their friendship more and more every year at school. Still, when summer came around, it was as if nothing had changed between them.

Severus bowed his head. If only things could have stayed that way...it was all his fault.

*"LEAVE HIM ALONE!"  He could still hear her voice, strong with righteous indignation on his behalf, as clear as crystal. He could still hear the blur of the taunting boys who held him at their mercy. "...you're lucky Evans was here, Snivellus-" the senior Potter's voice rang in his head. Severus begged it to be quite, he knew what terrible words it had sparked. "I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!" The insult that was from his mouth born flew about in his head. Filthy little Mudbloods....Mudbloods like her...Mudbloods...filthy...Mudbloods...Mudbloods like her...Lily...

Severus cried out in physical agony. That one sentence had ended the most important relationship he’d ever had. He had regretted saying it the moment it exited his mouth. The look in her eyes...he would never forget it.

Tears prickled in his eyes as he gazed at the girl in the picture. His thumb gently brushed her face. She was as beautiful as ever. He looked up into the mirror on the other side of the room. The reflection that gazed back at him looked nothing like the boy in the picture. His eyes had lost the little sparkle they had gained, and his skin was scrunched up in wrinkles, especially near the forehead and eyes. He even could see strands of gray hair amongst the coal.

He had changed so much. Yet the love he felt for Lily still hadn't changed after all these years. Filthy little Mudblood. Those weren't words of love. How could he have possibly said such things to such a beautiful person, such a dear friend?

Suddenly, Severus heard a knock on the door. He pushed all thoughts of Lily and the pain they brought down inside of him. He began to put the picture back in the drawer, where it had taken up residency every time a visitor had come to call. He paused, as Lily's picture self caught his eye. There was no reason to hide her anymore. He set her on a table underneath a lamp, the light casting a soft glow on the two teenagers.

Making sure that his emotions were in check, Severus rushed to great his visitor. He had a good assumption of who it was.

His theory was soon supported as he was greeted by a downcast Hermione Granger on his doorstep. She smiled sadly. "I thought I'd take you up on your offer."

Severus smiled. "I've very glad you did." Severus immediately realized his mistake. "Er...I didn't mean it like that..." he corrected himself.

He could have sworn that he saw the corners of her mouth flick upwards. "It's alright. I know what you meant."

"Er...come on in," he offered awkwardly, standing aside so that she could enter his home. He didn't know why he was acting so flustered. It was just all that thinking about Lily, that‘s all. He just had to focus.

Severus led Hermione into the living room. She frowned at the sight of the fire. "You do know it's the middle of the summer, don't you?"

He couldn't help but chuckle. "There's a charm on it so I can't feel the heat." She nodded in understanding. "I don't know, I guess I just find the fire soothing." He shook his head. "Here, take a seat. Do you want something to drink? Tea? Water?"

She looked at him wearily. "Do you have anything stronger?"

Severus raised his eyebrows. "I only have wine," he lied. He did have more potent potables, but he wasn't going to let her get drunk. She was obviously upset, presumably because of Weasley, and he was not going to let her drown her sorrows in a bottle. He had enough experience with the practice, and he knew it wasn't very effective. "Is that good enough?"

She nodded appreciatively. "Yes, thank you."

He summoned the newly opened bottle from the kitchen. Severus sat down next to her on the sofa. He filled another goblet with the ruby liquid, which he passed to her, and added several drops to his own. "Cheers," he muttered, clinking his glass with hers before bringing it to his mouth for a sip. He vaguely noted that Hermione had almost drained her glass, and he made sure that the bottle was closest to him on the coffee table.

"I take it you left Weasley," Severus began, cutting right to the chase. She nodded, a dejected expression on her face. "Do you need somewhere to stay? This isn't the biggest domicile, but I definitely have a spare room or two that you could use if-"

Smiling, she cut him off. "I'm staying with my Mum," she informed him.

"Oh,"

Hermione wrapped her arms around her like she was trying to protect herself from the nonexistent cold. "It was awful," she whispered, pain filling her eyes. "I hurt him so much..." She buried her face in her hand, and began sobbing. It looked like she had been holding this all in, and was exploding from the force of the pressure.

Severus looked at her awkwardly. He had never been good with the whole comforting thing; it wasn't like he had much experience with it. He tentatively placed his hand on her shoulder, slightly applying pressure. Hermione must of taken it as some sort of sign, as she turned towards him and leaned into his side. He wrapped his arm around her, pulling her body close.

For one selfish moment, Severus relished in how wonderful it felt to have her curled up next to him. The smell of her hair was intoxicating. The constant pressure at his side wouldn't let him forget who he was holding in his arms. It was something out of one of his dreams, his fantasies...no, it wasn't. She wasn't supposed to be crying.

Severus wrapped his other arm around her, and patted her awkwardly on the back, "It's going to be alright," he soothed. He laughed inwardly at the ludicrousness of the situation. He was the type who usually caused this kind of damage to a person, not the one who was sought out for help. Still, he held onto her as she grasped him like to do otherwise would be the end of the world.

It was strange. As much as this caring, comforting person was not someone he recognized, it felt...right. He had never really fit in. He had tried to be someone he wasn't, and it had cost him everything he had cared about. Although, the actions he was exhibiting now were not a product of his upbringing; rather, it was something that came from deep inside him. Something that before only Lily had been able to draw out of him.

And it was looking like Hermione had a similar effect on him. Without really thinking, Severus rubbed Hermione's back gently. She buried her nose in his neck, and held on even harder. Eventually, she must have cried all the tears out of her, as she suddenly pulled away, wiping her eyes determinedly. She closed her eyes, a red tinge flooding her face.

"I'm sorry about that." Hermione let out a watery chuckle. "I guess I just lost it for a bit."

The cruel bastard in him came up with a thousand things he could say that would make her even more miserable. Instead, he brushed her apology off. "There is no reason to be embarrassed." He raised his eyebrows at her. "Now who's apologizing needlessly?"

Hermione smiled, and this time, Severus was positive that some of the pain that had been in her eyes had vanished. She was still far from whole, but she seemed a bit more relaxed than before. "I think I might take you up on that offer of tea now,"

Severus nodded. "I'll be back momentarily."

Once he had reached the asylum of the kitchen, Severus chanced a glance at Hermione through the doorway. He was mesmerized by the way she twisted a lock of bushy hair around her finger absentmindedly. The soft smile that danced on her face was beautiful. It was amazing how much she reminded him of Lily. They were both extremely intelligent, beautiful even though they didn't always see it themselves, and the both just happened to be Muggleborns. It was no wonder that these crazy thought about Hermione were popping into his head; it had been exactly the same with Lily.

He forced himself to look away. The scene he had imagined so many times, with Lily jumping in front of that deadly beam of light, the jade hue cast eerily across her face. Severus sighed resolutely. If it hadn’t been for him, none of that would have happened. He was the reason she was dead, and there was no way in hell he would let Hermione end up the same way.

She was his friend, and that was all that she would ever be.

***************

Hermione felt slightly numb. She hadn’t cried like that in ages, let alone in front of someone. It felt good to have gotten some of that out. She watched Severus’ retreating form as he moved to get her tea. I really am fortunate to have him as a friend. The irony didn’t escape her. It was amazing what one night, one decision could do. If she hadn’t saved his life, she didn’t know where her own would be right now.

To this day, Hermione still could not understand how it had happened. She had looked for similar situations more than she’d like to admit, but still came up with nothing. There was nothing describing the bond that passed between them that day. She knew that that one moment was the basis for their entire friendship. Sure, the fact that Severus and Harry began to get along helped things, but if it hadn’t been for that moment, she wouldn’t be here right now. Honestly, she had no clue as to where she’d be.

Something near the lamp caught her eye. It was a picture of two carefree children, a boy and a girl. She picked it up. The dark haired boy was obviously Severus. He had the same nose, although his hair was more straggly and it looked like acne, the mark of puberty, had assaulted his features. He was dressed in mismatched Muggle clothing that, although still rather large, he was beginning to grow into. He had a look in his eyes that she had never seen before. They were dancing with laughter, and it was wonderful yet horrible to watch. She knew how much pain there was to come for the young boy, but it was still thrilling to see him before his already tumultuous life was torn apart.

The girl had vibrant red hair that glimmered under the sunlight streaming down on the pair. Her smile stretched so wide that Hermione thought that it must be visible from space. She was beautiful, almost angelic. Almost, because of the devilish look she had in her eyes. Those eyes. They were exactly like Harry's. The girl had to be Lily. She gave Severus a look that if given by anyone else would have seemed malicious, but on her, it was obviously playful teasing.

"Enjoying ourselves, are we?" came Severus' voice. It seemed to have reverted back to how they used to converse in her school days, almost leering and very condescending. Stalking over, Severus deposited the tea on the table and plucked the frame from her grasp.

Feeling an awful lot like a kid caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Hermione looked up, startled by this sudden transformation in her friend. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-, I was just, I-" she fumbled, feeling her embarrassment rise by the second. Then she noticed it. There was a faint echo of the sparkle that had filled the young boy's eyes in Severus'. He wore an expression similar to the one he had on the many occasions he docked points from Gryffindor, that smug smile creeping on his face. He was enjoying this way too much. Her mouth dropped open in realization. "You-you were joking!" she exclaimed.

His smile, though it still retained a bit of smugness, softened ever so slightly. "Why would I be upset that you were looking at something that was out there for anyone to see?" He settled himself on the couch next to Hermione, but she wouldn't have any of it.

She stood up. Arms crossed over her chest, she inquired crossly, "Why the hell did you do that? You know what an idiot I feel like right now?"

Severus poured himself a cup of tea. The calm manner in which he did it was beginning to get very irritating. He took a sip. "I wanted to get your mind off things." He raised his eyebrows at her. "Did it work?"

Hermione frowned slightly. She did not agree with his methods, certainly, but...she hadn't thought about Ron for a whole two minutes. That's a record, she thought sarcastically to herself. Sighing, she sat down and poured herself some of the steaming beverage. It had appeared that Severus had been attempting to serve her, but she didn't want him too. She was still annoyed with him, and didn't want to give in to him one inch. Besides, she could do things for herself. It wasn’t like she was a helpless baby or anything.

"The girl in the picture, it was Lily, wasn't it?" Hermione asked, trying to keep her voice soft.

He nodded stiffly. "It was taken the summer before our fifth year."

"The year before you two had your big falling out?"

Severus closed his eyes. "Yes,"

"What happened?" she inquired curiously.

"Pardon?"

"What happened?" she repeated. "Why did you two stop being friends? You obviously still care about her. I always wondered, but it never felt appropriate to ask..."

He raise his eyebrows at her. “So why did you now?”

She knew that Lily was a sensitive topic for him; most other times she came up in conversation Severus would wiggle his way around the subject, so they ended up discussing something absolutely inconsequential. Normally, Hermione would have let it go. She wasn't really sure why she was pursuing it today. She had her theories, and she had wondered what the mysterious feud had been, but Severus had never given a clue. The whole matter was frankly none of her business.

It was almost, she admitted to herself, like she wanted Severus to hurt as much as she did.

Hating herself for feeling like that, she quickly amended herself. "I'm sorry, you don't have to tell me anything. You must have had a good reason for not telling me. I-"

He brushed her off with a half-hearted wave of his hand. "I think you should know."

A deadened look was in his eyes. It scared her. Suddenly, she wasn't sure that she really did want to know anymore. Some secrets are best left untold...

"I just have to warn you," he began, "you might not want to have anything to do with me after you hear this." The pit that was forming in her stomach tightened. "I called her a Mudblood."

Hermione's blood froze at the use of that word. During the war, she had dealt with hearing it tossed around casually, even tried to embrace it. Still, there was always that burning indignation in her stomach when she heard it. It brought up so many awful memories. Bellatrix was screaming it as she tortured her young victim into the realm of unconsciousness. Draco Malfoy throwing it at her in Second Year. Ron desperately screaming her name as he heard her cries of pain. Ron jumping to her defense, and getting a stomach full of slugs in return...

She shook her head. She had to focus on Severus, not Ron right now. She looked warily at the man sitting beside her. He, unlike the others whom she had heard say if, looked utterly miserable. He gleaned no pleasure in the slur; rather, it seamed to have caused him physical pain even to utter it. His eyes were closed and face drawn. Curiosity rather than anger nagged at her.

“Why?” she asked simply, trying hard to keep any accusation out of her voice.

Severus rose swiftly from his seat. Hermione thought that he was going to leave the room without answering her question, but, with his back to her and his fists clenched, Severus spoke softly. “Potter, well, Harry’s father and Black were...er...putting me in an awkward situation. Lily defended me, and I repaid her by saying the worst thing possible. I didn't mean it, of course, but it just slipped out. Too much time spent with my Slytherin ‘friends’, I suppose.”

Hermione knew what he expected of her. He was convinced that she would storm out of the place and never want to see him again, his back turned so he wouldn't have to face the inevitable rejection. She wasn’t going to do that. He obviously regretted what had happened. Besides, it was in the past, and she knew that Severus was not the exact same man he was even five years ago, let alone the person he had been as a teenager.

She did the unthinkable. She smiled knowingly, gaining a confused look from Severus.

“I already knew.”

Severus’ mouth hung open slightly in shock. If the situation wasn’t so serious, Hermione would have broke out in laughter. “How?” he managed to whisper.

Hermione found a spot on hem of her shirt and started playing with it mindlessly. “It was at the end of my Sixth Year, right after you...I mean right after Dumbledore-”

“You can say it,” Severus muttered in a monotone voice. “I won’t get offended. I killed him.” he stated matter-of-factly.

Hermione was a little taken aback by the they way he almost casually referred to his awful deed. But although it was obvious that he was trying to conceal it, Hermione could tell that night had done him much harm. She could almost picture him having nightmares about it, but for some reason she couldn’t picture him, as absurd as it sounded, as the type who would sleep, let alone dream. Besides, she knew that he had only committed the crime on Dumbledore’s own orders, that the old man was already well on his way to the grave. Still, the whole thing was just a bit unnerving.

“Well,” Hermione continued, “we were all in the Hospital Wing, and Harry had just told us what had happened. Of course, when Minerva and Remus heard who had done it,” she said, inclining her head slightly in Severus’ direction, “they, as were we all, were speculating about what had happened, and why on earth had Dumbledore had so much faith in you.”

Severus smiled tightly. “I wonder that myself, sometimes.”

Hermione couldn’t help but let a small smile creep its way onto her face. “Harry told us how you had been the one to give up his parents to Voldemort-” She winced as she saw the pain seep into his eyes. “I’m sorry,”

He let out a terrible sound that might have passed for a dark chuckle. “What for?” he muttered miserably. “There’s nothing that you’ve said that hasn’t been the truth.”

“Yes, but sometimes the truth can be hard to accept.”

Severus nodded. “Continue,” he ordered.

“So Remus pointed out your animosity towards James, and Harry said that you didn’t care about his mother either, as you had called her a Mudblood.”

Severus looked up suddenly. “You said it...”

Hermione scoffed. “I don’t like the word, no, but I’m not afraid of it. 'Fear of a name increases the fear of the thing itself.'”

He chuckled. “Sounds like something Dumbledore would say.”

“I think he did.” Hermione informed him with a sad smile.

Severus nodded awkwardly. “So that’s how you found out?”

“Yes, though I didn’t know much more than that. I didn’t know the specifics until today.”

Severus looked at her wearily. “So I guess I got you all worked up for nothing.”

“Yeah,” Hermione agreed. “I thought you were going to tell me you were some creepy serial killer guy or something.”

“Glad you were wrong?” he asked. Is there a hint of hopeful pleading in his voice? she pondered, but decided against it. Severus Snape was not one to plead.

Hermione smiled kindly. “Definitely.”

She could have sworn that she had seen relief in his eyes before he covered it all up with his customary indifference. Suddenly, Hermione's stomach gave an earsplitting gurgle. Hermione felt her face turn crimson in embarrassment.

"I take it you haven't eaten?" Severus inquired politely. It was obvious he was thankful for the opportunity to change the subject. She didn’t really mind, though. If she were in his position, she wasn’t sure how she’d feel about discussing such matters, even with the closest friends.

She shook her head. "I was too worked up earlier. I couldn't keep more than a little food down."

"Come," Severus more ordered than requested. He led the way into the kitchen. Pulling out a chair from the small table, he gestured for Hermione to sit. "Snarky!" he called out.

With a loud crack, a small creature appeared before them on the floor muttering excitedly, "Yes sir!"

Hermione raised her eyebrows. “You have a house elf?” she questioned accusingly.

“Don’t get your tea cozies in a tizzy. He’s a free elf, if you hadn’t noticed.” Her cheeks burned at the assault on her efforts on behalf of the house elves. After closer examination, Hermione noticed that the little one was indeed wearing neatly matched clothes instead of the customary rags of enslavement.

She smiled nostalgically. “I guess I’m so used to thinking as free elves dressed like Dobby-”

The small creature cut her off with an excited squeak. “Miss knew Dobby? Dobby was Snarky’s friend too! Dobby helped Snarky be freed from Snarky’s evil masters and brought Snarky to Hogwarts!”

Severus gave Hermione a tight smile. “I’ve actually grown rather fond of him.”

Hermione couldn’t help but chuckle, earning her a dark glare from her former Professor. “I’m sorry,” she apologized, “but it’s so odd to think of you being fond about anyone!”

“Miss,” the elf chimed in. “Master Severus is most kind to poor Snarky. Master Severus gives Snarky almost anything Snarky needs. Master Severus is much nicer to Snarky than some of the professors at Hogwarts...” he muttered darkly.

Severus shook his head at Hermione’s questioning look. She wanted to press the matter and find out who on the Hogwarts staff would cause an elf to act like that, but she let it go.

“Snarky, could you please prepare dinner for Miss Granger and myself?” Severus inquired.

“Please,” she corrected, “It’s Hermione.”

The elf nodded his head fervently, his big ear flopping comically around his face. “Snarky will not fail in his haste to prepare the fine meal! Sir, Miss,” he exclaimed as he bowed extravagantly to them.

Hermione couldn’t help but smile at the elf’s enthusiasm. Severus must have done something exceptionally good for him to be receiving this treatment.

"How have things been going at work?" Severus asked Hermione, taking the seat opposite her as Snarky began to bustle around the kitchen.

"Pretty well, I guess." she answered.

"Has Mr. Portman given you any grief?" Severus asked evenly.

Denis Portman was Hermione's boss in the Department of Potion Experimentation. He was a heavyset fellow in his late thirties with sandy hair and misty blue eyes. Denis outwardly seemed like a kind hearted man, but there had always been something about him that nagged at Hermione.

Frowning, she asked, "What do you mean?"

Severus chuckled malevolently. "Well, let's just say the man was practically in love with Horace Slughorn, and was absolutely crushed when he went into retirement.”

Hermione gave it him a wry smile. “I take it he wasn’t your biggest fan?”

A malicious smile crossed Severs’ features in remembrance. “He had talent, certainly, but he was much to arrogant. He thought that just because he had miniscule skill that he was better than everyone else.”

Hermione smirked. “Better than you, you mean.”

Severus brushed her comment aside. “So, he went from being at the top of the class to barely scrapping by in his N.E.W.T. exams.” There was way too much satisfaction in his voice. “He couldn’t stand that he had to take orders from someone a mere several years older than him. He’s always been one to hold a grudge.” he finished anticlimactically.

A steaming plate of delicious smelling food was placed in front of Hermione. “Thank you,” she offered to the small elf.

Snarky beamed. “Miss is very welcome!” he squeaked.

“You’re lucky,” Severus continued their conversation as if there had been no interruption. He cut into the steak that was on his plate. “Since you didn’t finish your schooling, if you hadn’t had that letter of recommendation from Slughorn, you’d never have gotten that job.”

Hermione frowned. “Wouldn’t he have had to accept one from you, even if you two loathed each other?”

Severus gave a weary laugh. “Just because there has been a corruption purge the last several years in the Ministry doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. There’s no regulation that’s actually enforced on hiring or firing practices in the departments that aren’t always in the public eye.”

She gave him a suspicious look. “How do you know all this?” she inquired. She knew that the Ministry wasn’t perfect, but there were rules that people were supposed to abide by. Some thing seemed to amuse Severus as he gnawed on his meat.

“You’re trying to comprehend how people can possibly not follow the rules, aren’t you.” he muttered, the tinniest hint of a smile gracing his lips. Hermione felt herself blush again.

“How could you tell?”

Severus smirked yet again, shrugging his shoulders. Frustration stirred in her as she realized he wasn’t going to answer her question. Sighing, she resigned herself to devouring her meal.

*******************

After another hour of small talk, Hermione could feel her stomach bursting from all she had eaten. She glanced at her watch, and was shocked to see just how late it was. “I really should be getting home,” she announced regretfully. Her visit had been quite...interesting to say the least, and it had done the desired effect of taking her mind off things that were sure to return once she was home.

Severus nodded. Rising, he held out his hand. “Come,”

Hermione frowned. “Come where?”

Severus gave an aggravated sigh. “Your mother’s house, I presume.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m perfectly capable of getting myself home, thank you.” she replied curtly.

The man standing across from her raised his eyebrows. “So you really want another ride on the Knight Bus, do you? Developing quite a relationship with Stan Shunpike, I see.” he jested.

Hermione’s first thought was to reply to the insinuation, but then something else caught her attention. “Wait, how did you know how I got here?”

The eyes in Severus’ head rolled. "You are intelligent enough not to risk Apparition while under emotional duress, you obviously didn’t come by Floo,” he continued gesturing towards the fireplace. “you hate flying, and I live much too far away for you to have taken Muggle transportation. The Knight Bus is the only other alternative. Besides,” he drawled, his trademark smirk rearing it’s head once more, “there was the telltale sign of the greenish tinge of your face when you knocked on my door.”

Hermione shook her head and took his proffered arm. “She lives at 14 White Castle Drive, Guildford, Surrey.”

Severus chuckled. “I don’t need the entire address, you know.”

Rolling her eyes, she allowed Severus to pull her along into thin air. Moments later, they both arrived with small pops on the front stoop of her parent’s house.

Hermione was met with an expectant look. “Aren’t you going to invite me in?”

Regretfully, she shook her head. “I’d love to, but I don’t want my Mum jumping to any conclusions. She’ll will probably start theorizing that you’re my ‘rebound guy’, and I’ll never hear the end of it.” Severus nodded in response. Hermione wrapped her arms around him gently, and noticed that he visible stiffened. A sad smile crossed her face. He was obviously not used to this. “Thanks for everything,” she whispered. “And don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me.”

“Goodnight,” Severus replied curtly, and Hermione got the distinct impression that he wanted to leave as soon as possible.

“Goodnight,” she replied as the man tuned on the spot and was abruptly gone. Shaking her head, Hermione entered the house.

Just as she expected, her mother was waiting up for her, sipping from a steamy mug of coffee in front of the television. The older woman smiled. “Good, you’re home. I was starting to worry...”

Hermione gave her mother a quick hug. “I’m fine Mum. I can take care of myself.”

Mrs. Granger sighed. “I know, but dear, I’m your mother. It’s my job to worry.” She nodded her head towards the door. “Who was your friend? It definitely wasn’t Harry or Ginny.”

Hermione really didn’t want to get into her relationship with Severus with her mother. She had been concerned from the start because of the generous age difference between the two, and even in the glory days of her relationship with Ron was convinced that he would try to seduce her. The very thought of that is just absurd! she argued in her head. We’re just friends.

“It was just someone from school, Mum,” There, that was perfect. She’ll think it’s just some old acquaintance from school, and we won’t have to go into the same conversation all over again.

Mrs. Granger seemed to get that her daughter didn’t want to discuss this topic. “It’s late, you should get to bed. You need your rest.”

Hermione couldn’t help but smile. “Alright, Mum,”

The older woman gave her a peck on the cheek. “Goodnight. I love you,” she whispered.

“I love you too, Mum.”


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