Title: I Never Expected This
Age-Range Category: Four
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Severus Snape/Aurora Sinistra
Beta Reader(s): satismagic
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Summary: A late night excursion for potions ingredients nets Severus far more than he expected.
Forty. I never thought I would reach forty. During my thirties it seemed like an unreachable goal... especially two years ago.
Severus Snape was standing by the window in his quarters lost in thought. He knew he couldn't be the Headmaster, no matter what Harry Potter told people. Brave souls like Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood, not to mention the younger children attending Hogwarts during his reign of terror, should not be subjected to his presence whilst they were trying to learn.
It didn't matter to him that the oldest of them were no longer students; he just couldn't do it.
Women, well, he and Aurora had not exactly been friends when they were students, and not exactly not friends while they were teaching together pre-Voldemort War II , but he had no idea how to categorize the dance they were engaged in now.
"Professor?" Neville's voice through the Floo interrupted Severus's revery.
"Yes, Lo—Neville? Come through." Severus was slowly breaking himself of the habit of treating his ex-students like miscreants.
Neville smiled as he exited the flames. Severus assumed because he had changed the form of address. "Luna thinks she's found a field of Moon-glow pansies. I know if she has, they will be very useful for some of your potions, and I'd like to see if maybe I can cultivate a new field behind the remnants of the crumpled Tower, I think they would do well there."
Severus considered the suggestion . "They would certainly be useful for the new version of the scar-removing potion I'm working on. Cultivating them would be a challenge; you could probably gain your mastery if you manage."
Neville nodded. Severus was uncertain as to why the young man looked so inordinately pleased, but he assumed it had nothing to do with him.
"Have you contacted Granger and Bill Weasley?" Severus asked.
Neville didn't even blink at the abrupt topic change. "It is Hermione Weasley now, Severus. She and Bill are mates."
"Yes, yes, I know, for Merlin's sake, Neville. I can't bring myself to call her by her first name. You know why."
Neville nodded again, this time far more solemnly.
Both men paused, lost in thought .
A year after the war had ended, Severus had been working with Professor Vector to try to perfect one of his potions. Hermione Granger had been holed up in the castle, ostensibly working on her Arithmancy mastery, but in reality hiding from Bill Weasley. When Fleur was with her family in France, Bill had noticed he was drawn to Hermione. Refusing to come between the couple, she had fled to the safety of the castle.
Maybe they had shared too many nights of companionship and camaraderie, but late one evening after Hermione had been there about six months, Severus kissed her. That may or may not have been forgivable, or even possibly the beginning of a relationship, but when she said good night after the kiss, he responded, "Good night, Lily."
Hermione laughed at that, a bitter laugh that broke Severus's heart.
"Don't," she interrupted him. "Please, just call me Granger, would you?"
"Can, can we still be friends?" he stuttered, sounding much as he did at sixteen, bereft of his friend due to his own stupidity.
Hermione had looked at him – looked through him, it had felt like at the time. "Yes," she said finally. "But it will take a while."
A few weeks later, they had regained most of the companionship and camaraderie, but the ice did not completely thaw until one night they had played poker with Neville, Minerva and Hagrid. The whole story had come out, and Hagrid, in all his wisdom, had simply asked Hermione why she hadn't completely forgiven Severus.
"I'm never wanted for myself, am I? Ron wanted a replacement for Molly. Harry wanted a replacement for Lily, as did Severus, albeit for different reasons. Kingsley wants a replacement for half his staff... I give up."
They had all cajoled her into not giving up, although Severus had promised to never call her anything but Granger that night. He was determined to keep his word.
Shortly after Neville had informed Severus about the Moon-glow pansies, Bill and Hermione arrived, and the small group headed out. As they passed Aurora Sinistra, she stopped them.
"May I ask where you are going?"
"I've found a patch of Moon-glow pansies. They are useful in potions to reduce scarring, and Neville might be able to gain his mastery cultivating them. Also, fairy mice like them, and I'm hoping to see one," replied Luna.
Sinistra exchanged a small grin with Severus, well, on her part it was a grin, on his it was a slight upturn of his smirk.
"I believe I would like to come along, if you don't mind. That may be what is causing the light interference tonight," Aurora said. "I'm having some trouble seeing a few of the stars lower in the sky."
Everyone agreed, and Severus held out to his arm for her to grasp. She took it, and they all set out.
Luna led them past the ruins left after the war when they rebuilt Gryffindor tower. Severus passed it with regret.
"Looks a bit like Rome now, doesn't it?" Aurora asked quietly.
Severus contemplated this. "A bit. Not enough modernity to match the scene exactly, but I see what you mean, with the new building next to the fallen ruins."
She smiled at him in response. He patted the hand she had on his elbow.
Bill watched Hermione watching the interaction. "Are you all right, love?"
"I'm fine, Bill. Better than, actually. He should be happy, and it looks like they are comfortable together, but not enough to be boring," she said. She knew exactly why he was asking. It had taken a midnight visit from Severus during their unusual courtship for Bill to realize he truly loved Hermione, and unlike most of the other men in her life, wasn't looking to make her someone she wasn't.
Severus looked up at the sound of quiet conversation. He hadn't been able to quite make out what was said, but seeing only calm, peaceful faces he decided not to worry about it.
"Not everything is about you, Severus," Aurora whispered with a wry smile.
Severus looked at the lovely woman on his arm, with hair a deep mahogany brown, pale skin and blue eyes. "I'm learning that, even if it is slowly."
"Hermione was hurting almost as much as you were. Ronald had called her a marriage-wrecking whore shortly before she came to find solace in the castle. No wonder the two of you almost ruined your friendship."
Severus sucked his breath in sharply and looked at Aurora.
"Oh, don't worry, it isn't common knowledge. But Hermione was almost as much an insomniac as you and Harry Potter. She and I have been friends for many years, and I can keep secrets," she responded to the raised eyebrow.
"Apparently, since there was not even a whisper of any sort of friendship between you two," Severus grumbled reproachfully.
"That won't work with me, Severus. I've known you ever since you were kind enough to cast the notice-me-not spell on me when Avery showed far too much interest in a third year," she said.
"I just never could—"
"No, you couldn't and you didn't. One mistaken kiss and a friendship developed out of common interests is nothing to be ashamed of. Forgive yourself, and you will find that Hermione Weasley has forgiven you. What if you hadn't made that slip, Severus? You would have been in a relationship with a student you took care of like a parent. Could you really?"
Severus thought about that for a long while, knowing that the relationship he had toward his students would have given many people pause, but he knew it wouldn't have been an issue for the reasons she assumed.
"Yes. And without much thought to it once she was an adult. We did not have any sort of relationship prior, even if you cast me as a parent to them, I never was. I protected them, but there was no sense of paternity on my part. There are few witches who knew me as a child who would wish to burden themselves with me. Those willing to even be my friend are a treasure, both witch or wizard, and most of them are out here on this trek this evening. But it wouldn't have worked for many reasons, and not just because her background led neatly into an old fantasy. It did not work, and we have striven to regain a friendship. Our lives, when not interrupted by madmen, are far too long to have regrets over failed romances," he replied.
"I can live with that, Severus. I do see your point . Now, other than glowing and interrupting my viewing of the stars, what properties do these Moon-pansies have?"
He smiled at her, grateful she had been satisfied with his response. He was certain that had other factors been met, he could have easily romanced Hermione Granger. But circumstances being what they were, they were both too damaged by the past to build a good future together. He liked seeing the way Bill treated her. It was no less than she deserved.
"There they are!" cried Luna.
A muted gasp came from the party, then they all just stared in wonder. A patch of glowing flowers with regal 'faces' waved softly in the gentle breeze.
The group set to work, each taking clippings, petals, leaves, whole plants, always making sure to leave as much of the field as they could. When they were done, they each had a basket of the precious ingredients.
On impulse, Severus bent down and picked a handful of pansies and handed them to Aurora.
"Oh, how lovely, Severus! The glow changed to golden when you handed them to me, see?" Her delighted voice rang through the forest.
Severus looked startled, and Luna smiled delightedly at that revelation.
"What? What does the golden glow mean?" demanded Hermione.
Bill bent down, too, picked a handful and handed them to Hermione.
Hermione looked at her bouquet. "Mine turned golden as well. Since you aren't going to answer, I will have to research."
"You do that," Luna said.
"I never expected this," Severus admitted, when they were back in the castle and alone in the teacher's sitting room, sharing a cup of tea before bed.
"I didn't realize the flowers would give me away," responded Aurora with a smile. "I think I've loved you since you hexed Avery all those years ago."
Severus smiled back awkwardly. "I was too distracted by everything going on around me. But I've recently come to realize how much you mean to me." He hesitated. "Are you willing to give us a chance?"
"Are you asking me out on a date?"
He nodded. "Indeed ."
Bill smiled as Hermione found the right passage in the book on rare flowers she had pulled from the shelves.
Moon-glow pansies reflect the mutual feelings of the giver and the receiver. If they glow red, there is passion, if they glow pink, there is romance, if white, it is purely affection, and if they glow gold it is a sign of true love.
"I wonder if anyone told Aurora about that," she said.
"I don't think anyone had to, love," replied Bill. "She has spent a lifetime studying mysterious subjects. And even if she didn't know about that, I'm certain she realised exactly what the look on Severus's face meant."