Hello, Goodbye

Hermione made her way down the pebbled road, trying to ignore the way the damp beginnings of the rain seeped through her less than adequate coat. She could have used a warming charm, she knew that, but she always felt that it was an unfair advantage in muggle London, so she kept her wand tucked away, and instead had her hands shoved under the long sleeves of her coat. She saw the lights in the windows of her favorite coffee shop just ahead, even through the gray drizzle in front of her, and felt a faint warming in the vicinity of her chest at seeing the familiar sight. It had become her place that she went to every single week, rain or shine, preferably shine, but that was rare and far between in London in January.

The instant she stepped through the door, she shook herself slightly, took down her hood, and she shook out her hair, ignoring the way that it frizzed around the sides of her head. She approached the counter, and Millie saw her, and immediately said, "Your usual, Hermione?" and she nodded, pulling out her wallet and swiping her card over the reader in the front, never more grateful for muggle technology in her life.

As she waited, she took a quick glance around the coffee shop that had become almost a second home to her, and was startled to see a familiar profile in the front corner, one that she hadn't seen since the day right after the war.

It was Severus Snape.

She marveled for a moment, wondering just what a man like him would be doing in muggle London, but then came to the conclusion that he was there for the exact same reason that she was: to escape. It wasn't exactly easy for either of them to live in the wizarding world, considering they were all considered the heroes of the century.

Just leaving the house had her accosted in the street, and she hated it. So, she knew that if she hated it, then it was most certainly a nightmare for the man who had always loathed company.

As if he could feel her eyes on him, he lifted his head from his coffee, which she was certain was black, with no sugar or cream or milk of any kind, and Hermione was slightly startled at what she saw. His skin wasn't as sallow, his hair not as greasy, and the tension that she was used to seeing in his shoulders was absent.

He still wore black, of course, she would have expected nothing less from him.

A black button up, with a charcoal sweater that draped open to frame the lean torse beneath. She chanced a glance downwards and saw black jeans, but the same boots that used to wear when striding around the castle, chasing after miscreants, and terrorizing students of all ages equally.

She drew her eyes back up to his and saw him arching an eyebrow at her, as though amused at her casual perusal of his person.

Hastily, Hermione averted her eyes, and then was grateful when Millie came back to the counter and gave her the coffee, and then she said, "Here, Hermione. We had a few extras and they were just going to make me chuck 'em," and Millie slipped her two chocolate chip and cranberry biscuits, which she accepted with a smile and replied, "Thank you, Millie. It's much appreciated on a day like this," she motioned to the rain outside and Millie shrugged and said, "Oh, don't worry 'bout it, love. You're my favorite customer, after all."

Hermione smiled at that, and then paused for a moment when she turned to find a place to sit.

Normally, she'd find a place in the back corner, where she could hide…but instead she strode purposely over to the front corner and sat opposite her old Potions professor.

While it could be argued that it was only drizzling, the loud peal of thunder that shook the front windows every 10 minutes or so fervently said otherwise. Hermione took solace in the fact that she was inside the coffee shop, tucked away from the threat of the weather outside, her hands wrapped around her warm mug, biscuits resting next to it on a napkin with a small logo on the corner. Even the fact that Severus Snape sat across from her, giving her a look from under the veil of his hair that said he would prefer if she was anywhere but in front of him, didn't detract from the safety that she felt as she sat there.

In fact, it was an odd sort of comfort seeing her old Potions professor sitting across from her, a constant though dark presence that reminded her of some of her better days in the wizarding world; bent over a cauldron in the classroom, hair frizzing around her head, only focused on the next step. Back when the world of magic head still held a glint of Wonder for her, back before it had ripped small pieces of her soul from her, in perfectly shaped letters on the inside of her left arm.

Just as she thought of it, she felt her arm ache. It didn't do so very much anymore, but at the onset of the weather outside, it was a faint throbbing reminder of what she was consciously leaving behind her every single day she left Grimmauld Place, which she had now lived at for five years.

Harry had taken her in after the war, and for that she was incredibly grateful, but at the same time a faint guilt lingered in the back of her mind whatever she passed him in the hall, or on the stairs, or accidentally brushed against him while in the kitchen. She had been offered a place at the Burrow, and even back at Hogwarts, as Minerva had been trying to convince her to come on as a professor, but she had kindly declined the offer.

Instead, Harry was going to be teaching there, along with both Ron and Neville.

Harry had taken the post of Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, which Hermione felt was a good match for him. Neville had taken over Professor Sprout's old position, to no one's surprise, and was going to be the youngest Head of House that they'd ever had for Gryffindor. What had taken her by surprise was the fact that Ron had decided to go back to Hogwarts and take over Madam Hooch's position, apparently eager to teach the next generation of Quidditch players. Everyone else seemed to be doing well, each of them easily moving on after the war.

Harry and Ginny were married, happy, and living at the Burrow. Ron had apparently moved out and had an apartment in Hogsmeade for during the summer months between classes.

Luna was off in Lithuania, having found proof of one of her absurd and obscure beasts, and was breaking quite a few barriers in the field of magical creatures, having proved several of her more outlandish theories correct, leaving most people baffled.

Even Draco was doing well, having decided to become an Auror, and was now the youngest Head of the Auror Division, under the newest and youngest Prime Minister…Percy Weasley.

As odd as it was, it suited Percy quite well, and he was incredibly good at it, and had his father advising him on how to deal with the muggle world, and the Weasley family had never been held in more high regard than it was now. Everyone's lives were working out, a bit at a time.

Hermione, however, had not yet found a place. Not that she was lacking in offers: on top of Minerva's offer of Potions Mistress, she had also been offered a job in the Department of Mysteries, at the Equality of Magical Creatures Division, and even also at St. Mungo's, as an apprentice Healer. But none of them held any interest for her. In fact, she had been having a growing feeling of disquietude in her gut ever since the war was over, and she wasn't sure what to do about it.

Over the past few years, she had been researching on her own. Reading up on wizarding history, and trying to figure out where the wizarding world wanted to go…but was disappointed as she slowly realized that no one in the wizarding world seemed to want to reach for the future in the way the muggle world did.

Or, the normal world, as she was now calling it in her mind.

She had grown up with it and had been fairly well-off because of her parent's dental practice, and she'd had the lingering feeling that perhaps it was time to go back to what she knew best. She turned her head from glancing out the window and looked back at her professor. Maybe that was why he was here, too. He'd grown up in a muggle household, and perhaps it was easier for him to go back to what he knew best, as well. She thought on it for a second or two, and then reached out and tapped the edge of his mug with her spoon, that she'd been using to idly stir her own coffee.

He looked up at her, his expression seemingly annoyed.

She opened her mouth to speak…but nothing came out. He arched an eyebrow and the corner of his mouth twitched, like he was withholding a smirk at her lack of words. She wanted to say something, anything, but then realized that she couldn't think of a single thing. So, instead she pulled back her hand and went quiet.

They sat there for an hour.

Hermione then slowly stood from the table, both biscuits finished, coffee done, and then reached down and picked up her bag from the floor. Just as she turned to leave, she felt a hand on her wrist.

She looked up and locked eyes with him.

"Same time tomorrow?" he murmured, and she didn't know what possessed her, but she nodded. He let her go, and as she stepped back out into the rain, pulling her hood back over her head, the only thing that let her know that she hadn't imagined the whole thing was the faint hint of warmth that still lingered on her wrist.

Over the next six weeks, they met at the coffee shop. Not every day, of course, but she found him in there every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and on the occasional Saturday. They graduated from complete silence to making small remarks about the weather, and then, slowly, their conversations turned to current events and cooking and favorite drinks and…well, absolutely nothing was ever said about the wizarding world. Not a single word.

She never brought up Hogwarts or said a word about her friends, and he never asked.

It was almost like a silent agreement that they wouldn't speak of it, and for that Hermione was incredibly grateful. It wasn't that she didn't care for her friends, she was just tired of being reminded of that world, and she let out a sigh of relief whenever she walked through the front door of the coffee shop and saw him in the front corner next to the window, knowing that for an hour, she didn't have to think about it.

And then one day he asked, while taking a sip from his caramel macchiato (she had been wrong about his order), "And how is Potter doing?"

She was startled at the unexpected question, but answered, "He's taken over the DADA Professorship at Hogwarts. Minerva is thrilled, of course," she added, leaning in and wrapping her hands more firmly around her cup of coffee. "Having a war hero as a professor and married to a Weasley…well, let's just say that enrollment at Hogwarts has gone up."

Severus seemed mildly surprised, but only made a vague sound of agreement in the back of his throat and took another sip of his drink.

He then put his drink down and asked lightly, as if he didn't really want to know the answer, "And Weasley?"

"Teaching Quidditch at Hogwarts." At that, Severus' eyebrows shot up and Hermione nodded. "I know, no one expected it. He always talked about how he wanted to be an Auror, like Harry, but when Harry changed his mind, he thought it over…and then realized what he was most passionate about: Quidditch. And I think it's a good fit for him. From what I hear, the students love him."

Severus didn't say anything for a long moment, but then breathed out heavily through his nose.

"And how are you and your…paramour faring these days?"

She was confused by the question and gave him a look, putting down her coffee which had been half raised to her mouth…and then she realized what he meant and let out an inelegant snort, turning her head and trying to stifle it, but to no avail, and then finally choked out, "Oh, god, no! Ron and I…we haven't been together for years, Severus." It was nice to finally say his name, ever since he'd given her permission to do so nearly a week and a half before. "We barely even keep in touch anymore. I'm pretty sure he's dating Lavender Brown, again, actually."

She lifted her cup back up to her lips and took a long sip, and watched in fascination as the emotions played across his face, starting with confusion, turning to exasperation, and then there was a soft roll of his eyes that she took to mean that he felt like an idiot…and then he gave her a look she couldn't quite identify.

He then said, "Forgive me for…prying. I know you don't care to talk about your personal life, and since I never share mine, it was…presumptuous of me to assume that you would be forthcoming."

Hermione couldn't help but smile at his wording, silently wishing that more people would talk the way that he did.

"Don't worry about it, Severus. Besides," she added, rolling her own eyes and glancing out the window to remind herself that, yes, it was still raining, "It's not like I have a personal life to talk about. To be honest, the only personal life I've had in the past year has been with you," she softly admitted, playing with the handle of her cup, unable to look him in the eye.

She then heard him chuckle, which took her off guard, so she glanced back up and saw him with an amused smile.

He then said in that lovely baritone of his, "It's much the same for me. I even find myself looking forward to the hours of the week that I spend with you," and Hermione was taken even more off guard at his admission, baffled that he would ever tell her such a thing.

She waited for a pointed barb to be thrown her way, as that was his usual way and she had become accustomed to it, but when it didn't come, she felt off balance, like something between the two of them had just shifted.

An odd silence settled between them, and so she focused once more on her coffee, smiling when Millie came over and slipped each of them two biscuits each and said, "Still can't believe we keep on makin' more than the normal batch. Here you two are. On the house, of course," and then she winked at Hermione and walked away.

Hermione was fairly certain that Millie thought that she and Severus were dating, and didn't have the heart to tell her otherwise, so instead she just ignored the glances that her favorite server gave her over the counter, surreptitious winks and tilts of her head that said far more than she'd ever said out loud. She honestly found it amusing that anyone would think that she and Severus were dating, but she found it amusing, so she left it alone.

Finally, Hermione broke the silence with, "I've been offered a few jobs. I'm still not sure which one would suit."

Severus looked back at her, tearing his eyes away from where he'd been staring out the window, and then said, "You were flawless in all your work at school, I should think that you could choose whichever one you would most enjoy," and then leaned back further into his chair, lifting a leg and placing his right foot over his opposite knee.

She reluctantly nodded.

"Yes, that's true, but the problem is…"

Her voice trailed off, but he finished for her, "…You don't want any of them, do you?"

She shook her head, and then said in an exasperated tone, "Is that selfish of me? Or is there something wrong with me that I don't want any of the jobs they're offering me?" He shrugged, so she continued. "I mean, I could probably tell them that I wanted to bugger of to Romania and study the crumple-horned snorfblat, and they'd give me all the funding I could ever want, I just…I don't think I can do it anymore." She slouched back in her chair, lifting her left leg so that she could lean her head against her knee and then said, "Is it wrong that I don't want to live there anymore? In the wizarding world?"

He gave her a long look, and she could tell from his expression that he was thinking carefully about what she had just said, and she felt a tug at her heartstrings, grateful that she had someone who actually listened to her, instead of tuning her out the way so many of her other friends did when she went on a rant.

In a carefully measured tone, he said, "No. It's not wrong. You are not the only one with that particular sentiment."

Hermione let out a sigh of relief, feeling as if something in her body had just unclenched, and she said softly, just above a whisper, "It doesn't matter where I go, there's just constant reminders of everything that I don't want to be reminded of." She rubbed at her left arm, and she saw that his eyes caught the movement.

"May I?" he asked, almost gently, and so she dropped her leg and offered her arm to him, leaning forward so that it lay across the table.

With careful fingers, he slowly rolled up her sleeve and let out a low hiss at what he saw. It wasn't the deep and disturbing red that it used to be, but it was still slightly hideous to look at. The words were raised in pinkish white scars across her forearm, still easily read: mudblood. And across the whole word were long white scars, raised and crisscrossed over her skin, from where she had gone after it with a razor, trying to strip the words off her skin. Obviously, a failed attempt.

Severus then cautiously pressed a fingertip to the scars, and she shivered, but allowed him to trace the lines over her skin, noticing how his other hand gently cupped her elbow, as if making sure that she wouldn't pull away from him, even though that was the furthest thing from her mind.

As he inspected her scars, the thunder shook the glass, but she had become used to that over the past few weeks. It was late February in London, after all.

He then softly asked her, "Bellatrix?" and she nodded, but then he ran one finger down one of the long scars that cut through the slur on her arm and said firmly, with no question in his tone, "You." She nodded a second time. "I'm sorry this can't be removed," he murmured, his finger no longer tracing her scars, instead rubbing absently over her wrist. "The spells she used on her knives were dark ones, indeed, and aided by the Dark Lord's magic. Unbreakable, unfortunately."

They stayed like that a moment longer, and then he removed his hands and pulled her sweater sleeve back down, his hand briefly resting in hers, and he squeezed her fingers and then pulled back, and as Hermione sat back in her chair, she had to wonder if it had even happened.

She reached back for her coffee and looked back out the window, having the unsettling feeling that she was about to have to make a very permanent decision and that it would have to be soon.

They sat there for a while longer, both of them sipping at their respective drinks, and then she was startled when Severus stood up first and said rather abruptly, "I have to go. I will see you tomorrow?" he asked, she nodded, and then he grabbed his coat and he was gone, the faint tinkling of the bell the only sign that he'd left.

Hermione looked at the forgotten empty mug and the half-eaten biscuit, wondering why he'd left so suddenly.

The rain suddenly picked up, pulling her out of her thoughts as it started to slap harder against the window, and she knew that was going to have a hellish walk home. Had she been in the wizarding world, she could have used the Floo or Apparated back to her apartment, but she found that she rather enjoyed braving the elements.

She collected her things and just as she was about to leave, Millie called out to her, "You and him have a lover's tiff? He was certainly off in a hurry," and she shook her head as she adjusted her jacket.

"No, nothing of the sort, Millie. I'll see you tomorrow!" she said at almost a shout as she pushed open the door and the sound of thunder broke through the sky above, almost drowning out her voice. She then darted out into the street and stayed at a brisk pace, making her way back to her apartment, which was usually a fifteen-minute walk away, but was probably only about a ten-minute jog. As she avoided some of the puddles, she kept her eyes sharp, hoping to catch a glimpse of Severus.

No such luck.

Not that she could really see anything through the haze of misty, wet gray and stone dark shops, most of which only had one or two lights on in the windows.

As soon as she was back in her apartment (up three flights of stairs), she kicked off her shoes, ignoring the way they skidded across the floor and bounced off the foot of her coffee table, and then shucked her coat and draped it over the nearest surface she could find. She grumbled under her breath as she tried to wring out the bit of rain that had gotten into her hair. Drying charms just wreaked havoc on it, so she used normal methods to wrangle it into submission.

Hermione made her way to her laptop and pulled up her e-mail and quickly shot off a message to Harry. He was the only one who used a computer, and he checked his e-mail twice a week at the local internet café that was just on the muggle side of the Leaky Cauldron.

She had never really cared for owls to be honest, she thought to herself, smiling when she felt a warm tail wrap lazily around her ankle. She looked down and smiled as Crookshanks meowed plaintively up at her, and she reached down and brought him up to her lap, lovingly running her fingers through his thick fur and scratching him firmly behind his ears. He purred and leaned into her as she went through the few e-mails she had and then pulled up her banking statements to double check her finances.

She had plenty of money, that was for sure. Her parents didn't know they had a daughter, so she'd liquidated their assets when she'd sent them away and changed their memories, so that they still had their practice, and she had enough money to live on her own.

And then she had helped save the wizarding world and had the equivalent of a small fortune in both wizarding and muggle terms. She'd done the conversions and found out that she was worth…well, let's just say that with her usual penny-pinching habits, she'd probably never have to work again. But she wanted to. But, like she had told Severus, she didn't want to do anything in the wizarding world. Nothing that had been offered to her seemed the least bit appealing.

Crookshanks suddenly wriggled out of her grasp, apparently done with his affection for the day, and Hermione pulled open the tab that she had been looking at, drawing her feet into her chair, sitting cross-legged as she looked at the job one more time.

Assistant Archivist at the London Archives. She had the A-Levels, and when she'd left Hogwarts, they'd given her the degree that turned into a legitimate degree from Oxford in Liberal Arts Studies. Apparently, the muggle university had a founder who was a wizard and had made a deal with those in charge of the Hogwarts curriculum to allow the degrees to be equivalencies, letting both wizards and witches move easily between worlds and careers when necessary.

She glanced up at where she had it framed and hanging on the wall.

She could do it. She really could.

Another peal of thunder shook the windows of her apartment, and so, feeling impulsive, she suddenly stood up and walked over and flung the windows open, letting in the rain that she had tried so valiantly to get rid of not minutes before.

She glanced down to the street below…and then was startled when she saw the all-too familiar profile of her professor in an alley just opposite her building.

He glanced up at her, smiled, and then she heard a crack as he apparated away at the exact same moment there was another peal of thunder. Hermione stared at the empty alley for a few moments more and then backed away from her open window and slowly closed it, realizing she would have to wipe up the floors.

She leaned back against the closed window and slowly closed her eyes.

Would she leave? Or would she stay?

It had been a few more weeks, and there wasn't as much rain, and the coffee shop was slowly getting busier by the day. She and Severus now talked more and more about their other interests, and Hermione was pleased to find that his interests were just as varied as hers were. They both had a passion for the sciences, and she was thrilled to discover that he loved modern rock and pop music, and she had almost laughed at him when he'd admitted to being a fan of the shoegaze genre.

"Wait, you're telling me," she said through a badly stifled giggle, pushing her coffee away from her so she didn't accidentally knock it over, "That you listen to Mazzy Star? Like…unironically?" and he rolled his eyes and nodded.

"Yes, I do. Hope Sandoval is actually quite good. Her later work, especially," he remarked with a straight face, trying to stare her down to get her to stop laughing at him.

Hermione slowly got herself back together and apologized, "I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you, I swear, it just…it doesn't fit with the Severus Snape that I know," she explained, and he arched an eyebrow and said, "I wasn't aware that you ever knew me," and she felt sufficiently chastised at his words and ducked her eyes away from his.

She then said, choosing her words carefully, "If it makes you feel better, I sing to One Direction at the top of my lungs when I'm cleaning my apartment. It's fun music," she defended, as she saw him look as if he was about to laugh at her. "The words are easy to learn, it's got a good beat, and it's pretty damn hard to feel sorry about myself when I'm listening to it, you know? It allows me to…to forget for a while," she said softly, glancing out the window.

Severus gave her a look, but then nodded as if he understood exactly what she was saying.

And then he asked, as his fingers traced the edge of his porcelain coffee cup, "Have you come any closer to making a decision?" and she knew exactly what he was talking about.

Hermione swallowed, and glanced back out the window, noticing how the rain was picking up, her eyes catching on a bright red coat someone wore as they ran down the street, trying to avoid the rain. She could feel his eyes on her, but she brushed it to the side, thinking over her answer. She loved her friends, she cared for them dearly…but every time she went back there, a pain settled deep into her bones that she couldn't shake until she stepped back into the normal world.

A world where there had never been a war with a maniacal Dark Lord. A world where she was just another faceless person in a crowd…and she felt at peace.

She finally looked back over at Severus, who had a look in his eyes that said he knew exactly what she had decided and that he was with her every single step of the way. It was odd, this friendship that she'd made with him. She hadn't mentioned him to anyone in her life; no one knew about him. In fact, according to Draco, they'd given up looking for him.

Their relationship was this odd creature that didn't seem to have a name: coffee three times a week, the occasional biscuits, and they had split a brownie once or twice, and he'd gotten her a muffin on occasion, and then sometimes she ordered herself a small meal, though he never ate anything more than could be considered a snack. They weren't dates, they were something else entirely. In fact, from an outsider's perspective, their relationship probably looked like two people who had intimately known each other for years and were in the midst of a deeply personal and comfortable romantic relationship.

She stirred her coffee and took a sip and then, as soon as she swallowed, she said, "I want to stay." His expression went slightly dark, so she quickly clarified, "I want to stay here, Severus. With you."

It wasn't quite a smile she got in return, but it was enough of one that she knew that he was pleased with her answer.

"So, you're staying," he repeated back to her, and she couldn't help but grin and say again, "Yes, I'm staying."

In an unexpected gesture, but a welcome one, he reached across and gently grasped her hand and she smiled back at him and squeezed his fingers, and he squeezed back. When she looked back up from staring at their clasped hands, she had a sudden epiphany, and she let out a soft gasp and then muttered, "Oh gods, I'm an idiot. It was a glamour, wasn't it?"

He then gave her a genuine smile, with perfectly straight white teeth, and she took a closer look at him.

His hair wasn't as black as before, more a deep, dark brown, than anything else, and his eyes were almost honey colored. She slowly realized that he'd been lifting his glamour from his old life a bit at a time, removing the masks that he'd had from being a spy, and he looked…he looked younger. For the first time, she could see his thirty-eight years, when before he'd always looked older than he was, making it difficult to believe that he'd been the youngest teacher they'd ever had on staff.

She sighed and then asked, "How long have you been using this glamour?" and reached out and tugged at a strand of hair, and he shrugged and answered, "Longer than I'd care to admit. It takes a lot of effort," and she nodded and said, "Well, I'm not surprised. No wonder you look younger…"

He smirked back at her.

"So, you're staying. Do you have a career that you're interested in?"

She smiled and told him, "I applied to the Assistant Archivist position at the London Archives," and he said, "They'd be lucky to have you," and she felt her cheeks burn at his compliment. He was almost sweet in the way he was being affectionate with her, and it took her off guard. Hermione didn't know when it had happened, but she knew that her future would have him in it. And she was looking forward to it.

He then softly inquired, "How long will it take you to put things together?" and she shrugged.

"Oh, I don't know. A few months, probably," she admitted, already feeling the stress go to her shoulders. "I have to move all of my money out of my Gringotts' account, deal with my parents' house…and, of course," she said in a long-suffering tone, "Tell everyone that I'm leaving. That won't be a pleasant conversation, I'm certain."

She let go of his hand and looked back out at the street, the cobblestones becoming slicker by the second as the rain really started to come down.

He hummed under his breath and she looked back over at him and smiled.

At least she had someone to look forward to.

Three months went by and it was late November, but everything was done. She sat in the Leaky Cauldron with Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Neville, having arranged it on a Saturday so that none of them missed their lessons, and looked at each one of them in turn and said, "So…this is it."

Out of all of them, Harry and Neville were the ones who were the most understanding about her decision. Ron and Ginny, on the other hand, had seemed genuinely upset when she'd told them a month ago, but they had said nothing against it, and seemed to be supporting her decision to leave the wizarding world behind. She didn't really blame them: they had grown up there and felt that nothing could ever be better than magic, and she understood that, but at the same time knew that she had to leave it behind.

Harry reached out and grabbed her hand.

"E-mail me whenever you like, I'll always answer. And you know that I'm the only one with a phone, so I'll let you know when you can call, alright?" he said, and Hermione shot him a grateful smile and said, "Of course, Harry. You know I'll keep in touch."

He nodded back at her, and then shot a look towards Ron.

Reluctantly, Ron said, "We'll miss you, Hermione. And just know, if you ever change your mind, we're here."

"I know you are, Ron. And thank you."

He swallowed and nodded, and then Ginny, sitting across from her, said softly, "Miss you, Hermione," and then Hermione turned to Neville on her right, who actually looked excited for her. He'd been spending more time in muggle London over the past few years and had told her that he wanted to get one of those 'celly-phone' things because texting seemed so much easier than owl, and he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and said into her ear, "No matter where you go, you'll always be our friend. We'll miss you," and pressed a quick kiss to her forehead.

She hugged him back just as fiercely as he hugged her, and she said, "I'll miss all of you."

Her wand made a dinging sound in her pocket and she knew that Severus was waiting for her outside the pub on the muggle side, and so she quickly got to her feet. Quickly, she picked up her bag, adjusted it on her shoulder, and then made sure that her hood was already up. It was a downpour on the other side.

Just as she turned to go, Harry called out, "Hermione…" She turned. "We'll always be here, if you ever come back."

She nodded.

Head held high, she turned back and stepped out the door into the dreary muggle London, avoiding getting water splashed over her legs as a lorry sped past, and as she nearly lost her footing, a hand shot out and grabbed her around the waist, and then a familiar voice said into her ear, "Did you say your goodbyes?"

She glanced up at Severus from under her hood and smiled.

"I did."

He then leaned down and pressed his lips to her temple, and she let out a soft sigh at the touch. He then whispered, "So…ready to start something new?"

Hermione looked at him and then rose to her tiptoes and pressed a light, but lingering kiss on his jaw, her fingers reaching up and under his collar, tracing the white scars on his neck, and she whispered right back to him, "Most definitely…"

It was still raining.