Snape carefully tied back his hair and buttoned the cuffs of his shirt, adjusting his dragon-hide apron over his chest and legs. The front door bell jingled. He tied the strings in the back and made his way past the meticulously organized shelves full of ingredients. He was fixing the jars along the back wall when he caught sight of the reflection in the mirror.
The woman was rather short, with a plump figure and long, straight cinnamon-colored hair but there was no mistaking it; that was Hermione Granger at his apothecary counter. She was dressed in a black tank top and a pair of bell-bottom jeans, from what he could see, and she didn't seem to notice him either, doubled over her wrinkled notepad, mouthing ingredient names.
"May I help you, Miss?" he asked with an air of calm but inside his heart was pounding and he was grateful for the dragon-hide apron covering his lower half.
"Yes, I'm looking for Fluxweed Seeds and Unic—" She had looked up from her dingy pad and froze, hand stopping short of tucking her straightened hair behind her shoulder and her mouth went slack.
Hours crawled by before she finished her sentence. "—Unicorn hair…" she continued weakly and he could see the anger blazing in her brown eyes, the hurt hiding somewhere in the depths of the flecks of honey and cinnamon.
"Hello, Snape." She sounded gravelly and congested. Her nose was red, now that he studied her, and her face was slightly shiny with sweat. Her hair was damp at the temples and stuck to her face in curls; she looked better with curls anyway. She looked healthy enough, he mused as he stared at her.
She was as short as ever, with a sweet, soft body that made his slacks tight and a plump bust, just barely peeking out of her shirt collar; her skin was a bit tanner than the last time he saw her and she had grown and painted her nails blue, a sky blue that made him think of the winter sky. Her face was round and her cheeks were red; there wasn't an ounce of gauntness like he had.
Considering the last time they had met, she looked very well off. "How are you?" she asked and her voice trembled slightly on the last word, like she was trying hard to keep things together in front of him.
"I'm fine." He flashed her a casual smile and he could hear her breath hitch. "As you can see, I've started my own apothecary." She murmured something under her breath. "And how much?"
"Oh! Um…five drams of Fluxweed Seed and sixty grains of Unicorn hair." She still nibbled on the ends of her hair like she did before, her eyes watching him like prey as he bagged her items.
"Five sickles and thirteen knuts," he told her, meeting her eyes. "How are you, Miss Granger?" he asked softly.
She had been searching through her change purse but froze. Her eyes fluttered shut. "I'm fine."
"No you're not," he told her quietly, meeting her eyes.
"How do you know how I feel?" she snapped.
"Because someone important—or should I say prominent in my life—walked away from me and I've been through what you're going through," he explained in a calm voice.
His heart ached at the thought of his mother passing as he rested his hand on top of hers. "Miss Granger—"
He gave her a furrowed look but said no more about the first-name basis. "Hermione, if you ever wish to speak with me or just have my company…this is my card. It has my mobile number and address on it. It's Untracable and Unplotted. Please do not share it with anyone. I already had to deal with vandals at my childhood home." He knew this was unprofessional but he couldn't care less; he tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and watched her cheeks darken.
"I'm not going to ever wish to speak with you. You stepped into the little Gryffindor Princess's private life and thought it would be funny to observe her, to violate her privacy." Her face was red and her eyes were glittering.
"Hermione, when an Animagus is injured severely, to the point where they can hardly walk on their own, they can't revert back to their human—"
"Shut your mouth, Severus. I know you wanted to humiliate me, violate my privacy. I told you…I told you I loved you…" She sniffled once and wiped her nose on her hand. "…I still do…" She threw down the change and walked away, the hand holding the card to her chest like a precious toy.
He watched her heart-shaped bum from behind for a moment before turning to his next customer.
"Popular with Hermione, aren't you, Snape?" asked a nasally voice.
Snape rubbed his forehead and sighed. "She'll be the death of me, Weasley."
"But you'll die with a smile on your face," answered the red-head teacher, his hand already sliding his money across the counter. His hair was curly as ever, sticking up in certain places, and he'd possibly gotten more freckles over the years; his water-blue eyes made Snape a bit unnerved, to be truthful. It was like he could see all of Snape's thoughts, which was, in truth, really creepy.
"She's fine. She loves staying at home with Caitlyn and Micah. Are you coming to their birthday party?" Ron asked as he took the bag of raven feathers. Snape was surprised how much more mature and tolerable twenty-three-year-old Ronald Weasley was compared to seventeen-year-old Ronald Weasley.
Ronald, Sprout and several other customers came and went and the sun slowly sank behind the horizon line. Snape slipped off his apron and glared down at his erection, willing it to wilt or something. "Why don't you go down?" he asked angrily to his testicles as he hung up the apron, pieces of his hair slipping out of his ponytail.
Mindful of his erection, Snape closed up shop and waddled home, uncomfortable and his mind on a curly-haired witch wearing tight jeans.