Hermione didn’t see Severus all summer. She supposed it was partly because of her mother. Every time Hermione mentioned her father, her mother would get in a huff, mentioning how much she disliked the man, and how much she disapproved of Hermione spending any time with him. Of course, both of her parents seemed to secretly know that Hermione would, in the end, do exactly what she liked, that was just Hermione’s nature. She still got letters over the summer from her father, which her step father would pass to her under the table at breakfast.
Their letters back and forth never amounted to much. Mostly just wishes for a happy summer. It wasn’t until just after Hermione had received her book list for second year that Severus’ letters moved to something more concrete. He began talking about the upcoming year, and how he hoped he could speak with Hermione a little more, if she so desired of course. Severus swerved around the subject of a public life together, though he had been thinking about it, and settled for being fatherly in closed sessions throughout the months. Hermione agreed with this whole heartedly, so it was decided their first meeting would be September 19, Hermione’s birthday.
And so it was, that after the new semester had begun, and Ron and Harry’s entrance in the flying car was behind them, Hermione found herself sitting on the opposite side of Snape’s desk, in his private study, which was cleared off and set up like a dinner table instead. A house elf brought a small tray with two plates of corned beef, green beans, and potatoes, as well as cutlery, two glasses, and a pitcher of pumpkin juice.
Hermione wasn’t sure what to say to her father, so she just smiled and thanked the house elf, and the man. The air was filled with nervous energy all night. Severus was trying to make idle chit chat, trying to remember what normal twelve year old girls talked about in his classes, which probably wouldn’t have done any good if he had remembered, as Hermione was not a normal twelve year old girl. Instead he stuck to thinks like, “Twelve, huh, that’s a big number.” While in truth, he was thinking, “Twelve years, how did I miss twelve whole years?”
Hermione stuck to the simple statements, like, “Yeah, it’s neat.” And, “Oh, thanks.”
Still, as awkward as it was, it was better than the nothing that both of them had experienced the year before. Severus was just happy to be with her, really. He was sitting in a room with his daughter, capable of speaking to her, not as her teacher, or “that man” her mother hated so much, but as a father, a distant, unhelpful, probably not well liked father, but still.
Hermione wouldn’t put it in her diary as a wonderful night, or one of her more enjoyable birthdays, but she did stay till the very end, when a house elf came back to pick up their plates and set one single piece of chocolate cake in front of Hermione.
“Happy Birthday, Hermione.” Snape said.
Hermione smiled shyly and thanked the house elf again. “But don’t you want some, Pro-um, Dad?” Hermione asked.
It was the first time she had called Dad, and Severus couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear before answering. “No, I’ve never been one for cake. It’s too sweet.”
Once Hermione had finished her cake, and they were back into the same silence as before, though by now a little less awkward, Severus slid a small package out of his cloak and set it down in front of Hermione, not saying a word because he didn’t know what to say.
“Oh, you didn’t have to get me anything.”
“Yes I did.” Severus said, “What sort of father would I be if I didn’t.” With that he pushed it toward Hermione, willing her to open the box.
She looked up at him before pulling the brown packing paper off of the box and pulling out a heavy stone mortar and pestle with HJG engraved on the bottom.
Hermione grinned, “Thank you.”
“It’s nothing, I just heard you complaining in class about yours.”
“No, really, thank you - Dad.” Hermione said, standing up and giving the awkward man a quick hug.
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