Continuing Tales

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 17 of 23

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Still It was early morning, and Hermione sat alone in the kitchen—Harry and Ginny had already left for work. She was leisurely drinking a cup of tea and eating a slice of toast, and that was how the morning post found her when it arrived. As soon as she heard the tap on the window, she did not glance hurriedly at the owl to see what missives it held in its claws. Neither did she sigh irritably when she saw that it was only the Daily Prophet and Ginny's copy of Witch Weekly.

All right, she did do both those things, but only because he still hadn't Owled yet. And, okay, so it had only been two days since she'd seen him at the Ministry, but the anticipation was going to kill her.

It was while she was sorting the post into a neat pile that she saw something that made her groan with disbelief and momentarily forget her thwarted hopes.

Ron's face was grinning up at her from the front cover of Witch Weekly.

Exclusive interview with Ron Weasley – page 4!

What the hell had he done now? Picking up her tea, she went and sat on the sofa and opened the magazine. Her eyes almost fell out of her head at what she saw.

What the hell?

The headline, quoting Ron's own words, read:

'Hermione was the best woman for me'.

Hermione frantically looked down the page, her eyes picking out all sorts of sentences that made her stomach clench with horror.

'I made a mistake—I was an idiot to let her go.'

'We had such good times together... but maybe we got together too soon after the War...'

'We're really good friends again, so who knows what the future may hold?'

Hermione felt her body fill with complete dread when she read the banner across the bottom of the page.

So, who should Ron have stuck with? Turn over to find out!

'What the fucking hell!'
Hermione shouted when she turned the page.

On one page was a picture of her, and on the other was one of Lavender. Naturally, they'd chosen one of Lavender's professional photographs, preening and flicking her hair at the camera, while hers from back when she'd received her Order of Merlin.

There were boxes floating around the photographs, and Hermione couldn't believe her eyes when she realised they were awarding marks out of ten for certain factors like 'beauty', 'occupation' and 'style'.

Hermione Granger went back to Hogwarts to complete her N.E.W.T.s, following the War, and is considered as one of the foremost intellects of her generation. She was all set to have a glittering career at the Ministry of Magic, but for reasons only known to her, chose to abandon her career to study Potions with former spy and current deputy Headmaster of Hogwarts, Severus Snape. It is now understood that she will begin working for St. Mungo's research and development department. Witch Weekly gives her eight out of ten.

Lavender Brown left Hogwarts, as many of her peers did, without any N.E.W.T.s, but has actually shown to be genuinely talented in the field of Divination. Since school, she has enjoyed lucrative contracts with top clothing companies and caused a stir recently when she modelled Twilfitt and Tatting's new range of lingerie—eight out of ten.

Hermione Granger is a conventionally attractive young woman, but is unfortunately blessed with a head of unruly curls that are just begging to be tamed. Not known to be particularly fashion-conscious, we did like her choice of outfit for the Annual Ministry dinner, a few months back—seven out of ten.

Lavender causes many a woman to become green with envy. She has the whole package –a bright and bubbly personality, long blonde hair that is in perfect condition, and her curvaceous figure is considered to be one of the most attractive to the opposite sex—a true natural beauty—nine out of ten.

There were a couple of other paragraphs, but Hermione passed them over in disgust. At the bottom of the page was the overall score out of ten, and she had come one point behind Lavender.

We want to hear what you think! Who do you think should win in the battle of the exes?

Shutting the magazine, she stared at it uncomprehendingly for several minutes. Had she really just read something so demeaning? And some of the things they had written! But Witch Weekly had never liked her for refusing to give interviews to them. No doubt they thought her aloof and stuck-up.

Still, she was actually going to kill Ron. The thought of everyone reading that piece of crap! How could she not feel some humiliation? Lavender, on the other hand, would be immensely pleased—maybe she'd even had a hand in it.

But Merlin, what in the name of arse had Ron been thinking? What was all this rubbish about them becoming "really good friends again?" Anyone reading that article would think they were on the verge of getting back together, and—

'Oh no, oh bloody hell, no!'

What were the odds of Severus Snape getting his hands on Witch Weekly?


When Hermione returned home from work later that day, she was pleased to see that Harry and Ginny were not the only people in the house. A rather contrite-looking Ron got up when she entered the living room. She, however, didn't care how contrite he was; hell, he could have been indulging in self-flagellation all day, but she had something she wanted to say.

'Sit,' she demanded.

'Um, shall we leave you to it?'

Hermione ignored Harry. 'Explain, please.' She slammed the magazine down loudly in front of Ron. 'Explain what the hell you thought you were playing at!'

Ron raised his hands defensively. 'Look, Hermione, I swear I didn't know they were going to print all that rubbish about you and Lavender!'

'I explicitly told you not to retaliate, but not only do you ignore me, you have the bare-faced cheek to actually drag me into it—to use me in your pathetic tit for tat with Lavender!'

'I didn't think you'd mind, I mean, you hate Lavender—'

'For Merlin's sake, Ron, I have come off the worst! Did you seriously think Witch Weekly was going to risk antagonising their prize cover girl? The girl who sells their magazines? All you have done is succeeded in making us both look like fools!' Hermione sought to get her breathing under control.

Ron sighed belligerently. 'Look, I'm really sorry, OK? I made a mistake.'

Hermione shook her head. 'You knew what you were doing—it just didn't turn out the way you wanted it to! I have had pitying glances all day in work. People coming up and patronising me, saying, "Don't worry Hermione; we can't all look like Lavender Brown, after all!" And what the bloody hell was all that about us potentially giving it another go?'

'I never said that.'

'You didn't have to! Anyone with half a brain could read that it was implied!' Ron opened his mouth, but Hermione spoke over him. 'Did you even consider how I might feel about this? Or the damage you might have caused...?'

'What damage?' he accused with incredulity. 'You're not seeing anyone, you haven't since we finished!'

Hermione shook her head in disbelief. She could hardly tell him that he might have just undone any progress she had made where Severus Snape was concerned. 'Just, don't ever do anything like this again—I'm warning you, Ron.'

He nodded tightly and looked away, a look of frustration upon his face.

Hermione turned on her heel with a huff and retreated to her bedroom. She stretched out on her bed and stared up at the ceiling. Surely, it was unlikely that Snape had managed to see that article. But then, it was possible that as he was still at Hogwarts, one of the other Professors had a copy, and he could easily find out about it.

He'd said he'd Owl her, but maybe she would have send one to him first, just to check. She hoped that if he did see the article, he would realise that it was simply Ron talking out of his arse. She still couldn't believe that they'd printed all that rubbish about her!

She could just see Lavender's sickly sweet smile, and one day, Hermione resolved, she would wipe it right off.


During her lunch hour the next day, Hermione made her way into Diagon Alley with a view to going to the Owl Office. She'd composed a letter to Snape last night. It had taken her a while to write just a few lines, and no doubt he'd return with some quip about her thinking he was an idiot. She hoped so, anyway. They had actually had discussions about the Wizarding press, and they both knew that neither could stand to be displayed in it.

Hermione stepped through the wall at the back of the Leaky Cauldron and into the cobbled street. However, before she had time to comprehend anything, an arm shot out from nowhere and tugged her forcefully into a nearby alleyway. Yelping in surprise, she reached for her wand immediately, but a hand closed over her mouth and another trapped the hand moving to her sleeve, leaving her wand uselessly trapped. Her free hand came up to grab the arm of her assailant, but she could do nothing more than dig her nails painfully into his skin and breathe frantically.

A face came into view. 'Stop that—I'm not going to hurt you.'

Hermione froze in horror—it was Yaxley.

'I promise I won't—look I haven't got my wand. I just want to speak to you.' He loosened the hand over her mouth a fraction, and raised his eyebrow in query.

Hermione nodded slightly; inwardly unsure as to whether she should believe him.

'Please don't run...' He removed both his hands, and Hermione immediately produced her wand and jabbed it into his chest.

'I wanted to say I'm sorry.'

She paused at that and looked at him fully. He was only a few years older than she, but physically he looked much older. 'You're sorry?' Was this some kind of joke?

He nodded vigorously, his eyes wide. 'I'm sorry for what I did, and I wanted to thank you for not telling the Ministry—'

'I didn't do that for you—it was because I had no magic!'

His expression became urging. 'You must understand, I'm sorry—'

Several cracks of Apparition suddenly pierced the air, and Hermione looked around in shock.

'Severus?' she whispered in confusion, as he grabbed Yaxley from behind and pressed his wand to his throat. Harry was there, too, and three other Aurors materialised behind him.

Harry enquired if she was all right and then proceeded to magically bind Yaxley's wrists.

'We warned you about this, Yaxley, didn't we?'

'Please, I was just—'

'Save it,' snarled Snape, and shoved him towards the waiting Aurors.

'Hang on, he hasn't done anything...' said Hermione hurriedly.

'He's breached the conditions of his release—that's enough,' stated Harry as Yaxley disappeared with the Aurors.

'I think he just wanted to say sorry...'

Both Harry and Snape looked at her stupidly.

'It's true.' She shrugged. 'He said he was sorry.'

'So, you willingly decided to come into a darkened alleyway with him, then?' Snape asked dryly.

Hermione coughed. 'No, he forced me to, but—'

'Exactly—he forced you to. How do you know he wasn't lulling you into a false sense of security?'

'Well, I don't, but—'

'So we should just let him go about his business, then?' His eyebrows were raised.

Hermione fought not to groan in aggravation. 'What are you doing here, anyway?'

Harry cleared his throat. 'Look, I need to get back to the Ministry and sort this out. If you are all right, Hermione, I'll see you later. See you back at work, Snape.' He nodded, and Disapparated.

Noticing that they were now alone, Hermione felt some of her impatience die away to be replaced with discomfiture. 'He didn't take my wand off me, you know. In case you didn't notice, I had mine pressed into his chest.' She began walking out of the alley. 'What are you doing with the Aurors, anyway? Moonlighting?'

He ignored her attempt at humour. 'Now that school is over, I am required to lend my services to the Aurors. We have been tracking Yaxley to see what other connections he might have.'

That's why he'd been at the Ministry the other day, then. 'So they would keep an eye on you in case you fall back into your Death Eating ways, but would value your assistance in such matters nonetheless?'

'That's about right, yes.'

They stood still on the pavement, but Hermione noticed that he seemed to prefer looking down Diagon Alley than at her. She bit her lip.

'My, ah, original purpose in coming here was you, actually.'

'Oh?' For some reason, he didn't seem particularly interested.

'Yes, I was going to Owl you about something you might have seen in Witch Weekly? Did you see it?'

'I did, yes.'

Hermione's stomach sank.

'Rather sickening, it was.' His mouth set into a grim line.

Her spirits lifted. 'Yes, I quite agree. I just hoped you wouldn't think that... well, you know.'

'It's fine.'

She let out a little sigh of relief—thank Merlin for that!

'I never expected anything less.'

'I'm sorry?'

He looked at her then, and from his tightly controlled, blank expression, she knew that she'd completely misinterpreted him.

'Did I not tell you that this would happen?'

She shook her head slowly, a cold feeling of dread suddenly descending upon her. 'No, no, you've got it wrong, Ron was—'

'It's fine; you wanted to keep your options open...' He shrugged to indicate his understanding.

Hermione suddenly had an urge to hex him. 'Are you suggesting that I've been stringing you along until something else caught my eye—like I'm some kind of slut?' She ignored the slight flicker in his expression. 'Merlin, you're actually pleased by this, aren't you? You're pleased because you think it proves that you were right! Everything can go to hell, just as long as you are always right!' She stared at him in disbelief, and her anger gave way to sadness. 'Oh, Severus, you really think I lack enough basic human decency that, were I getting back together with Ron, I would let you know through an article in a magazine?'

Even after what she'd said during their conversation at the Red Dragon—after everything?

He didn't say anything.

'Right,' said Hermione, a little shakily. 'Well, at least I know where I stand now.'

Without another word, she Disapparated away. She thought she might have heard him say her name, but it was too late—she would not, could not, cry one tear in front of him.

She'd been deluding herself, she realised. If he could doubt her sincerity and think so negatively of her – so easily – then there was nothing worth hanging on to, was there?

Her patience had officially just run out.


After an eventful morning, much of the remainder of Hermione's day passed in a blur. The evening found her making hot chocolate in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place, following a very relaxing soak in the bath. The only thing to break her peace was Ginny arriving home and rushing into the room.

'Merlin, Hermione! Are you all right?'

'No, not particularly,' she replied, without really thinking.

'I don't blame you! All we can be grateful for is that he didn't hurt you again!'

Hermione blinked, realising stupidly that Ginny was talking about Yaxley. 'Don't worry, Gin. I'll be fine. I don't think we'll have to concern ourselves about Yaxley, again. I think he was genuinely sorry.'

Harry appeared around the door. 'I'm going to go and get a takeaway, anyone want anything?'

'No, I'm not very hungry, thanks, Harry,' said Hermione. 'Say, you never mentioned that Professor Snape was working with the Aurors.'

Harry shrugged. 'I wasn't allowed to—it's all been very hush-hush. None of us knew anything about it until he turned up one day and the boss said he'd be helping out.'

Hermione nodded slowly and turned back to stirring her cup. Why was she even interested? She should be working hard to put him out of her mind.

Once Harry had left, Ginny turned towards her once more. 'Hermione, you really don't seem yourself—are you quite sure you are OK?'

A knock on the front door sounded before Hermione could reply.

'I'll be right back.' Ginny squeezed her arm reassuringly and disappeared out into the hallway.

She needed some biscuits to go with her drink, or maybe some cake—that would comfort her. She didn't care about what happened with Yaxley—she cared about what had happened afterwards. Her anger had abated somewhat during the course of the afternoon, especially as she began to consider that his belief in the article said less about her than it did about his own nature—his pessimistic outlook, and his... complete lack of self-esteem. She should have seriously anticipated such a response—she'd known he had been waiting for something like this to happen.

It was just completely disheartening to realise that she hadn't really got anywhere with him. It seemed so easy for him to think the worst of her, and could that ever change?

A few moments later, Ginny suddenly reappeared looking a bit dazed.

'All right?' asked Hermione distantly.

'Snape is in the library!' she hissed in disbelief.

Hermione spun round in shock. 'What?'

'Severus Snape is here—come to see you, and he's waiting in the library.' Ginny looked like she was brimming with uncontrollable interest.

'He's come to see me?' Hermione looked down at herself. 'But, I'm in my pyjamas—I'll have to go and get changed.'

'You can't keep him waiting—he looks grim enough as it is! Just stick your dressing gown on and you'll be fine—he's not going to care what you're wearing!'

'Gin, I have moving ducks on my pyjamas!'

Ginny shoved her unceremoniously out of the door.

'You don't understand—' Hermione protested, but Ginny, however, had shut the door.

Pulling out her wand, Hermione spelled the ducks to shrink, and she tied the belt of her dressing gown tightly with resignation. I will not be embarrassed, she decided firmly. Had he come to throw some more accusations? If so, he would not get away so lightly, again. She'd tell him to turn around and never come back.

Tentatively, Hermione pushed the door to the library open. He was standing by the fireplace, his cloak hanging unclasped around his shoulders. She aimed her wand at the fireplace and a fire sprung to life.

He turned around.

'Hello,' was all she could manage.

He appeared to take note of her attire. 'I apologise for intruding; perhaps you would prefer I come back another time?'

'No, indeed, it's fine.' It was a miracle in itself that he was here, at Grimmauld Place of all places, and she was hardly about to look that gift horse in the mouth. She sat down in an armchair—at least then her pyjamas were less visible. 'Please, sit.'

'I'll stand, if it's all the same.'

She shrugged and looked at her nails. For a moment, the only sound was the crackling of the fire. Venturing a glance at him, she wondered if he had become transfixed by the flames—he was staring into them, unmoving.

Eventually, his voice sounded. 'I have... come to apologise, Hermione, for the way I spoke to you today.'

'Oh.' This was a bit of a surprise. She glanced more fully at him, suddenly rather interested.

He continued to stare away from her. 'You were right, of course. I did your character a disservice.' He shook his head in frustration. 'Deep down, I know that you would not do such a thing—I know it. But I can only say that... Well, I am a man full of doubts.' His voice was flat, and he seemed uncharacteristically contrite. Hermione wasn't sure she liked it. Sarcastic jibes were her comfort zone. 'Or maybe it's not even that,' he continued. 'Maybe it's just easier for me to think the worst, and then I can go on living in my own little world of bitterness, mistrust, and self-denial.'

'It is fine—don't worry about it,' she offered diplomatically, quite struck by his sincerity.

'That's very gracious of you, but I think it does matter.'

'It is fine; I understand. You know, even though I've never agreed with your doubts or protestations as to why we should not pursue a relationship, I've understood where they come from—why you have them. It's just easy to forget sometimes, in the heat of the moment.'

'You shouldn't have to make allowances.'

Hermione didn't know what to say to that, but there was something else preying on her mind–it had all afternoon–and she felt she had to bring it up, even though she was wary of his response. Standing up, she moved to where she could see him properly. 'Severus, even if that article were true, after everything you have said... You've made it clear that we owe each other nothing. There's never been... I suppose what I am saying is, you can't have your cake and eat it.'

It sounded like an ultimatum, and Hermione considered that it was probably a good thing. What was the use of him getting jealous, or of her getting jealous for that matter? There was nothing between them that stopped them from being free agents—nothing set in stone. Some sort of resolve would need to be reached, once and for all.

'I know,' he admitted quietly.

She gathered up her courage, and touched his arm lightly. 'What do you want, Severus? You know what I want.'

'Still?' He snorted.

'Yes.' She just needed some sort of affirmation from him. She didn't knew what she would do if her refused her again.

For the first time probably since she'd entered the room, he looked directly at her. Hermione automatically glanced at his lips, remembering the last time she had stood this close to him. Her throat became dry, and she resolutely flicked her gaze elsewhere.

'I thought I knew what I wanted, but now I am not sure,' he revealed, a troubled expression upon his face. 'Well, I haven't been sure for a while, in fact.'

Hermione felt her heart jump in hope.

'I thought this was all going to be very straightforward, and it was looking that way, but I did not count on you complicating things.'


'Yes, you; you have made this more difficult for me than I think you realise. You asked me once how I could be so detached; well, I'm sorry to say that we cannot all wear our hearts on our sleeves—it doesn't mean we feel any less, however.'

Hermione lowered her gaze. She had been guilty of thinking she was affected by events more than he was—that she was having a harder time than he. A finger touched her chin, lifting it upwards. 'Do you know how long it took me to stop thinking about you after you imposed yourself upon me that last day at Hogwarts?'

His fingers fluttered down her jaw, and there was a look of intense interest on his face as his eyes followed their path.

'It was hardly much of an imposition,' she breathed, as his touch moved down her neck and over her collarbone. She wanted to close her eyes, or grab him, or something, but she was afraid to move, in case he came to his senses again.

'Perhaps, but it was enough to make me want to forget my argument.'

'Until common sense prevailed once more,' she added deprecatingly.

His hand suddenly left her skin and moved to brush some of her hair to rest behind her shoulder. With the movement, his expression became dark. 'Yes, common sense; nothing has changed, even now. I'm still not good for you. I make bad judgements, have no idea what is good for me, and one day you would end up being affected by this. It is an established fact, my dear Hermione, that whatever talents I may possess, I am quite lamentable at living my own life.'

His hand fell away, and he stepped away from her to sit down on the settee, leaning forward slightly to contemplate his clasped hands.

Hermione took a deep breath. 'It's never too late to learn, you know.' She reached out and grasped one of his hands, enfolding it within hers. 'You just need someone to teach you.'

She felt that his next response would signify a turning point, for good or for bad.

He looked up at her, and she determinedly held his gaze. Suddenly his hand wasn't lax in her grip, his fingers grasped hers. 'You would teach me, would you?'

His voice was low, with a hint of challenge, and Hermione moved her thumb over the back of his hand. 'I would.'

He stared at her for what seemed an age, but really, it could only have been a few moments. Still, Hermione felt self-conscious under such appraisal, and wished for the umpteenth time that she wasn't standing there in her dressing gown. Having seemingly made a decision, he tugged gently on her hand, a question in his eyes.

Without thinking twice, Hermione settled down next him, curling her feet underneath her—not failing to notice that she'd never been this close to him before.

There was a sigh next to her. 'I think... I think I need to change.'

She tentatively clasped her hands around his arm, remaining silent.

'And, I'm not sure that I can.'

Hermione stared at her hands as she tried to formulate a response. Eventually, she squeezed his arm encouragingly. 'You're a brave man, Severus—can't you brave this with me as well?'

'Bravery,' he scoffed, glancing down at her. 'Bravery conveniently masks a multitude of sins, doesn't it? Rashness; foolhardiness; perhaps even stupidity...'

'You don't really believe that.'

'Perhaps not...' he acknowledged, after a moment.

'Besides, maybe you don't need to change, as such; more like adjust, and there's a difference.'

He smirked. 'Is there? Sounds like semantics to me.'

Hermione smiled. Her thumb moved repetitively over the material of his robe, and she reflected, for a moment, over the fact that she was practically slumped against his side, and it was fine—clearly he didn't mind. If she had the courage, she might lean her head against his shoulder, and it would probably be fine, too.

'Anyway, I said I would help you, didn't I? Plus, you may not have noticed, but I'm not an expert at all this, either. I'll need some help, too.'

'I sometimes forget that it is you who is the younger one. I feel like it is I who has everything to learn, not you.'

'We both have things to learn from each other,' she corrected.

He hummed in concurrence, and Hermione bit her lip, the slightly wistful note in his voice giving her pause.

'Have I worn you down?'

'I'm sorry?'

She sat up straighter and looked at him seriously. 'I don't want you to just give in to me. I want you to actually want to be with me.'

'I do,' he muttered irritably, and Hermione smiled.

'Are you ever not grumpy?'

'What do you think?' The corner of his mouth lifted slightly. 'So then, what will we do? What shall you teach me about life? What thrills shall we endure?'

Hermione shrugged. 'Whatever you want...'

'How about bungee-jumping, or deep sea-diving or—'

'Now you're just making fun,' she admonished. 'We have a problem if that's your idea of doing something different—I've had enough of that kind of excitement to last me a lifetime!'

'Fair point,' he agreed.

'Well, we'd never been to a pub together before, so already that is something new and different. We'll just go from there. Besides, what do you need to go bungee-jumping for—you can fly!' She poked him on the arm.

He glared at her offending finger, but became distracted by something else. 'Are those ducks on your pyjamas? They appear to be struggling.'

Hermione flicked her dressing gown to cover up her pyjamas. 'They're, um, struggling against a Shrinking Charm I placed on them. Everyone has to have a pair of novelty pyjamas,' she said defensively. 'I bet even you have some.'

She watched him raise an eyebrow. 'Well,' he said, 'that's for me to know, isn't it...'

And for me to find out, Hermione finished automatically, and to her relief, silently, as well. She felt a blush form at the direction of her own thoughts, and her eyes widened when she saw that there was a smirk about his lips. Maybe she hadn't imagined the suggestive lilt in his tone. Quick, Hermione, think of something witty to say! But her mind was a complete and utter useless blank.

She was saved from becoming flustered, though, by the sound of the front door opening and closing.

'Harry's back,' she said regretfully.

He looked at her. 'I'd, ah, better go, then.'

Neither made any effort to move, but as the footsteps down the hallway became louder, and Harry could be heard calling out to Ginny, Hermione patted his arm and reluctantly uncurled her legs. As she stood, she ran a hand over her hair. 'Severus, I... well, I just want you to know that, though we've had this conversation tonight, I know it doesn't mean that everything is suddenly going to be all right—you know, all problems solved.'

He nodded thoughtfully as he clasped his cloak together, and his expression became hesitant. 'But... we shall try and make everything all right, shall we?'

'Yes.' Hermione smiled, pleased by such a remark. 'We shall.'

'Good.' He leant down and surprised her by kissing her cheek. 'Now, I must make good my escape.'

Hermione suddenly grabbed his arm. 'Meet me in the courtyard of the Leaky Cauldron—Sunday morning at ten o'clock, all right?'

She had a cunning plan.

Well, it was hardly cunning, but it was a plan, nevertheless. If he wanted her to teach him, then that is what she would do.

After weeks of talk, it was time for some action.

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 17 of 23

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