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Hermione was nearly done her personal physical routine. She enjoyed a combination of dancing and stretching to improve her dueling form. Knowing she would never meet Severus strength-wise, focusing on honing her gracefulness was the only way she ever got the drop on him while sparring.

This time of the afternoon they usually sparred together if they were both free. But Severus had been called away on an emergency.

To Lucius.

Which meant it wasn’t an emergency.

Unless, of course, you were Lucius Malfoy and a delivery of too few wine bottles was a tragedy.

The door to the training room swung open and Hermione turned, thinking Severus was returned early.

But the shuffling feet and hung head were Severus’ godson Harry Potter. He looked utterly awful, downtrodden but somehow seething.

“I’ve just had the worst day and I need to let off some steam. Can we fight please?” he asked without looking up.

Hermione’s brain replayed a question that had been occupying her lately. Severus posed it after a garden party they attended together at Malfoy Manor.

You are such good friends with Draco now. Snarky friends, yes. But. Might you try to see if you could be friends with my other godson as well?

Cocking her head to the side, Hermione answered.

“Of course we can fight. At the ready!”

Harry’s head snapped up at a rate that was likely to give whiplash.

“I didn’t - you’re not - we’ve - Severus”

Holding her starting form, Hermione raised an eyebrow too much like his godfather for Harry’s comfort.

“That was almost a complete sentence Potter.”

“Severus isn’t here?”

A negative head shake, “Ready?”

Ready he wasn’t, but Harry eased into his own starting form.

A wary, restful beat of pause

And he was immediately on his back with his own wand and Hermione Granger’s pointed at his face.

She stood to her full height, unimpressive though it might be, and looked down her nose at Potter’s slack jawed gaping mouth.

Her lips pressed firmly together, mostly to stop the smirk and giggles trying to bubble up.

That eyebrow lifted once more “Again?”

Harry blinked at her before his lips snapped together. A crazed sort of decisive challenge shone from his eyes as he jumped up and snatched back his wand.

“Ready!” he shouted.

He lasted 9 seconds more than the first time, but he was much quicker to ready again.

Severus Snape massaged his temples.

He was never answering another single owl from sodding Lucius.

The whining, the possibly real hurt that someone would get his order wrong, the concern and outrage over “today’s youth” and their “incomprehensible incompetence”.

The dullest, most annoying 37 minutes of his life. Severus lamented that he could never get those minutes back to spend on something worthwhile.

He startled to a stop in the open doorway of his training room.

His godson Harry lay spread eagle, disheveled, and panting with his eyes closed on the hard stone floor. His wand no where in sight, his glasses pushed up onto his forehead.

Hermione spoke up from where she sat, feet away from Harry, comfortable in a conjured chair, looking as put together as when he’d left. Was she inspecting her nails?

“I’m waiting. I still haven’t heard all the words strung together yet.”

Severus opened his mouth to ask just what was going on, but was interrupt by Harry’s enormous heaved sigh.

“I’m…sorry. Alright! I’m so fucking sorry I underestimated you, sorry I was a…”

“A turd face” Hermione supplied with the smallest of smirks.

That had Harry laughing as he continued “a turd face in school, sorry I let Ron run his mouth unchallenged. Sorry none of us gave you a proper chance. And I’d like it if we could start over, please?”

She considered it briefly before tossing a wand onto Harry’s stomach and standing.

“Get up Potter I’ve got a spell to show you.”

Severus crept backwards, leaving them to work it out themselves.

Their reluctant smiles suggested they would eventually.