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For [livejournal.com profile] toblass!

Hermione glared at the clock as the minute hand wound its way around the circle again and again.

When the meeting finally wrapped, she was exhausted. Still, she wanted to talk to Severus tonight, which was easier said than done. He wouldn't be at the coffee shop anymore, and while he had her address, she didn't know where he lived.

Packing up her folders and saying goodbye to her colleagues, Hermione resolved to send him a message by Patronus.

She marched down the hall, rehearsing the words.

Until she saw him.

In the Ministry.

Talking to Fiona Bones.

*

Hermione ducked behind a pillar, hoping they hadn't spotted her.

Her heart beating out of her chest, she wondered why Snape had come to the Ministry. She'd never seen him there herself, and she'd been a Ministry drudge since she was just twenty years old.

It couldn't be a coincidence that he appeared at her workplace today of all days. Was Severus seeking her out?

Distracted by her thoughts, she was lulled by the clacking of footsteps as people left for home. When she looked up, Severus was at her right.

Fiona was at her left.

*

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Hermione did the only thing she could think of, plastering a grin on her face as she tried to stay upbeat.

He frowned.

Fiona smiled warmly. 'Is the budget meeting over, Granger? I need to talk to Porpington before I take off for the evening.'

'He should still be in the conference room,' Hermione said. She held her breath as Fiona waltzed over to Severus, threading her beautiful, alabaster, and perfect arm around his waist.

Fiona kissed him on the cheek and went to find her boss, leaving Hermione alone with Severus.

*

They stood together, silence stretching awkwardly before them like a giraffe getting up from a nap.

Then Severus spoke up, avoiding eye contact as he spoke, his voice quiet. 'I came to apologise for the abysmal tea I prepared for your... young man this morning.'

Hermione shifted to glance at him. 'I'm sorry I missed you. I was restless after dinner last night, and I overslept.'

He nodded.

Watching the impossibly beautiful woman through the door, Hermione's curiosity overtook her sense of propriety. 'So... Fiona?'

He nodded again. 'I ran into her while I was looking for you.'

*

Fighting her worst instincts, Hermione decided to take the high road. 'I remember the first time I met Fiona. She was a prefect and I was a homesick firstie without any friends, crying in one of the corridors. She brought me to a cosy little alcove near the Hufflepuff common room, a spot lined with cushions, and she fetched me a pot of tea and a plate of chocolate biscuits.'

Severus glanced at her out of the corner of his eye.

'She's also a knockout,' Hermione continued, 'so congratulations on that. I hope you two enjoy your evening out.'
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