I agree. We have reached a point at which such questions do become important. I can tell you that I am unattached.
Yet, there are certain things you should know about me. Even if you’ll hex me afterwards, those are best said in person. Could we meet somewhere in the middle? Heidelberg, Toulouse or Santiago de Compostela would be convenient. You could visit some interesting libraries there, so your trip won’t be a complete waste if you decide that you won’t have anything further to do with me after we’ve met.
PS: I think that flannel waistcoats are very sensible, although I prefer turtleneck jumpers in cold weather. If I had to choose from Ms Austen’s heroines, I’d take Elinor Dashwood any day over Marianne, but a dash of Elizabeth Bennet wouldn’t go amiss to counterbalance my inherent dullness. Do you think you can manage that?
Re: Subject: Meeting
I promise to listen first and hex later.
Elizabeth Bennet, eh? I am sorry to disappoint you, but playfulness is not one of my strengths, although I do possess a temper if provoked. How can you be dull and have a mysterious past at the same time?
My parents will spend Christmas in their flat in Cavalaire-sur-Mer on the French Riviera; I will be there too. Shall we meet there, maybe on Boxing Day? In the meantime, I will try very hard not to picture you as a cross between Mr Darcy and Colonel Brandon with a green thumb. I wouldn’t get any work done otherwise.
Sincerely yours, etc,
So it was herbal tea again. Severus did not feel very dull at the moment. Boxing Day! That was very soon. He was nervous enough to admit he was nervous.
Subject: Boxing Day
Boxing Day it is. Would noon fit in with your plans? I suggest we meet at the main quay of St Tropez. We can walk a bit and then find a café. I will dress in a very dull fashion, but refuse to carry any roses or certain novels, as I believe is the custom with such meetings. In any case, I will be the only man there without a dog or a fishing rod, as the whole village is blessedly free of tourists in winter. I will recognise you, I suppose. There is a photo of you from Oxford available on the internet.
Damn it. You are an intelligent woman and therefore have probably worked out that I am nervous about our meeting. Boxing Day is both too near and too far away, isn’t it? I do not want to sound deliberately mysterious, but I would think it best if I do not offer more personal information until after we’ve met (if you’re still speaking to me afterwards). You will understand then.
I am swamped with Christmas orders and up over my ears in work. At the moment I am selling a lot of creams and herbal remedies. Either the Wizarding community has embraced Christmas fully, or a lot of wizards and witches are blatantly ignoring the Statute of Secrecy and gifting their Muggle acquaintances with my products.
Looking forward to seeing you,
Re: Subject: Boxing Day
You must be interested in my personality if you still want to meet me after seeing that photo. I was furious then. I had done the major research work for this project, but the boys had tried to publish the paper without me.
Don’t worry, my revenge was not nice. If you google my then partners, you will notice that neither of them got very far. The instigator is teaching maths at Smeltings, a boarding school for children who compensate for being complete dunderheads by acting like the spoilt-rotten bullies they are.
More than by their chauvinism, I was hurt by my own foolishness because I didn't realise what was going on until it was nearly too late. Until this day, I cannot fathom how naive I was, even after fighting a war.
Oxford was my way of turning my back on the Wizarding world, at least for a time.
Even if whatever revelations you have in store for me would make me hex you, I do not think I will stop talking to you. I try not to speculate too much, and at the moment this works well because I am quite busy preparing a paper for Arithmantics Quarterly on top of the pre-Christmas-madness.
If, however, Zelko Princip is not the name you’ve been born with, and you’re really a resurrected transgender Bellatrix Lestrange, our relationship will cool significantly. Otherwise we should be fine.
Although Severus had to laugh at her last paragraph, he chose to avoid the particular topic in his answering mail, sure that Hermione would draw her own conclusions.
He had a lot of work, which kept him from dwelling too much on their imminent meeting, and he hoped that it would be the same for Hermione. Apparently, she’d never even considered Zelko Princip to be Severus Snape. The brewer was not sure whether to be relieved or anxious because of this. Granger was a very intelligent woman. If she had not thought about him as Snape, did this mean there was no way she’d ever consider her erstwhile Potions teacher in light of a possible relationship?
Severus choose to ignore that question, born out of old insecurities, and bottled potion after potion. If he continued to work in that manner until Christmas he would be stocked up far into spring.
Subject: World’s end
The Muggles seem to think that the world is going to end today. So far Opicinia is still standing; even the wifi connection intact. I have finished and sent off all my orders. If I were a superstitious person, I would not put any extra effort into my Christmas cleaning, fearing I would spook you if you ever saw my place, but it is a good enough distraction.
I hope the next few days are peaceful for you and your family and friends.
If this were a real letter, one on paper, Severus would have signed with a Z only, one with an extra flourish, to be read as an S if one squinted.