(Highlight to View) Warning(s): Mild British swearing!
(Highlight to View) Prompt: Both Hermione and Severus LOVE musicals but nobody else knows, they bump into each other in the theatre…
Note: For the love of musical theatre — all recognisable features belong to either JKR or to the musical stated and their creators, and please listen to any of the soundtracks as they are all wonderful!
Summary: An unexpected hobby can have remarkable consequences.
Severus Snape loved musical theatre. If you asked him he would deny it, but the signs were there if you knew what to look for. A little drawer in his desk, hidden not by magic but by a secret panel (heavy wards being a sure fire way to attract attention, but most magical folk were completely oblivious to muggle tricks) contained all the programmes and tickets from years' worth of secret trips to the West End in London, or to local theatres such as the Alhambra in Bradford or the Lowry in Salford. The serious professor had a longing for the emotion, the drama, the unrestrained flamboyance of it all! For the consummate Slytherin, was it really surprising to harbour such a colourful guilty pleasure? Not a single soul knew about his secret obsession, although his colleagues did sometimes pause over his more… eccentric language from time to time. Telling a 3rd year to walk like a man? Or musing about opening a restaurant in Santa Fe? Not your typical Professor Snape.
It had all started with Rent. As he recuperated from the horrific snake bite that had left him bedbound for weeks, whilst Harry Potter fought for his freedom, he had listened to the Original Broadway Recording of the then-new musical, relishing in using CDs as he no longer had to hide his muggle habits. The CD had been presented to him along with SPICE (by the Spice Girls, insufferable), Step One (by Steps, minutely better) and Cats, the original cast recording, among others by an amused Hermione Granger. Well, he had asked for something to banish the oppressive silence of his house in Spinner's End, and he wasn't yet capable of nipping out to purchase his own choice of music (his old collection having been destroyed while Pettigrew occupied his house the previous summer). He supposed that she felt sorry for him seeing as she had left him to die on the floor of the Shrieking Shack, but one couldn't ever assume the motives behind the insufferable know-it-all's actions.
Hermione Granger loved musical theatre. Her parents had always wanted a well-rounded education for their only child, and so had taken her to museums, libraries, National Trust properties and musicals with equal enthusiasm. It may have been Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at age 5 that started her obsession, or watching old videos of High Society, Oklahoma! and Carousel with her grandparents that did it. Whatever first sparked the flame, she was a well and truly paid-up member of the world of musicals. The only drawback in attending Hogwarts had been that electricity didn't work in the castle, so her extensive cassette collection had to be left with her parents. She knew that it wasn't the coolest of hobbies, but this didn't stop her longing — it just made the holidays all the sweeter for the trips out with her amused parents.
It had been a little joke to take a couple of soundtracks for Professor Snape to listen to as he recovered. Hermione thought that the righteous anger and passion in Rent might spark some of the fire that was lacking in the man since his brush with death, whereas Cats was just too wacky to resist. She had, of course, provided a good stock of the music he actually liked such as David Bowie, Pink Floyd and ELO to please the grumpy man.
Jersey Boys, Monday 25th September 2016, Piccadilly Theatre, 7.30pm
Severus leaned forward in his seat, the first one on the front row of the dress circle as always, totally engrossed in the music. He had grown up listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and the four men on stage were doing an incredible job in mimicking the vocals that he so vividly remembered. Sherry touched a place in his soul that he thought had been locked away with the death of his parents — the memory of listening on the vinyl in the loft as they fought below washed over him. When the men took their encore, the audience rising to their feet to dance, he glimpsed a very bushy haired woman in the front row singing her heart out waving her arms in the air. Didn't he recognise that wave? The house lights came up, the audience started to leave and he lost sight of her in the crowd, a vague memory nudging his subconscious.
Hermione was in bits. Frankie Valli had the voice of an absolute angel, and the actor reminded her so much of the way her dad would sing along whilst washing up — plate in one hand and soapy brush as his microphone. Standing and dancing and singing along was simply an instinctive reaction for her, despite her lack of theatre partners, and she gave it her all. Turning away from the stage as the lights came up, she thought she glimpsed a swoosh of black hair and a stalk that seemed familiar up on the row above, but somebody bumped her and she forgot all about it.
Kinky Boots, Tuesday 17th January 2017, Adelphi Theatre, 7.30pm
Severus had his reservations about this one — a musical about drag queens and shoemakers? It was actually the true story behind the dramatics that drew him in; the tale of a factory in Northampton threatened with closure until a shiny new idea swept in to save it. Manchester had been so similar with the pit closures, the constant threat of unemployment, the uncertainty in finding the rent money or even enough for the next meal, and the depression settling over an area that had once been so proud of its industrial heritage. Nevertheless, Charlie and Lola won him over with their singing, their drive to make things work, even Lauren's crush on her boss! The very fact that somebody so young and with so much beauty and potential could make it work with somebody older, very much emotionally unavailable and, quite frankly, undesirable was a heady thought.
This time he had come incognito. The thought of recognising somebody in the crowd, or even worse, of them recognising him, had shaken him a little. So he came dressed in the muggle clothes he usually wore exclusively at Spinner's End — dark blue jeans that were so soft and comfortable they might as well have been joggers, an old faded band t-shirt (Electric Light Orchestra, so dark blue it might have been black, with the obligatory Out of the Blue spaceship), scuffed up Docs, a massive grey puffa jacket and his hair in a topknot. Nobody could recognise him like this, surely?
Hermione had already seen Kinky Boots performed whilst on holiday in New York. The London cast were, in her not-so-humble opinion, miles better! Mainly because the accents were actually correct (nobody who was really from Northampton would have such a strange American twang) and because the audience responded in the right way too. Imagine interrupting a song before the end with applause? Appalling. No, the British had it right, with a standing ovation just at the end (if it truly deserved it) and applause only when the story called for it but certainly not mid-scene.
At the interval, whilst wandering back to her seat with her ice cream, she bumped into a tall guy in a big coat. Apologising profusely as she manoeuvred her way along the row to her place in the middle of the front row dress circle, something nagged at the back of her mind. That 'no problem' had sounded familiar, although it was so quiet he might as well have not spoken. And the whiff she had caught as she brushed past was also familiar, but she couldn't put her finger on it here in the packed theatre when surrounded by so many muggles, so far away from Hogwarts…. Ah! That's it! The man smelt like fire and herbs and a hint of parchment, just like her old potions classroom! She glanced across at the man as the lights went down for act two, but his face was in shadow. Vowing to speak to him at the end, just to put her mind at rest, she settled in with her plain vanilla tub while Lola and her girls explained to the clueless factory men just what a woman wants.
Severus' mind was in turmoil. He couldn't concentrate on the performance, not when half a row separated him and Miss Know-It-All herself, Hermione Granger. Had she recognised him? No, that wasn't possible; his clothes would have put her right off. Even so, as the lights went up at the end again, he made a hasty retreat. No use in alerting her to the fact that he wasn't such a recluse as he portrayed for the Wizarding World to see. He was, in fact, very well and quite possibly at his happiest since his early days at Hogwarts. Freedom from two oppressive masters served him well, as did living out in the Yorkshire Dales. Spinner's End was far too well known for his liking. A tiny cottage on the outskirts of Beamsley and a thoroughly muggle lifestyle of walking and gardening gave him the good health he had always lacked in scuzzy Manchester. He owned his own potions lab, totally uninterrupted by frustrating hormonal teenagers. He maintained a fantastic — and most importantly very discreet — working relationship with his new employers at St Mungo's where he brewed for them and assisted on any Dark Magic cases that cropped up. Finally he had a very fulfilling hobby of musical-hopping. He had worked hard for this precious anonymity, with its lucrative but mentally challenging work. There was no way he would let himself be thrust into the limelight again, especially not by meeting the Ministry's golden girl at a sodding West End musical!!
As the lights went up, Hermione looked to her left to find that the man on the end of the row had already departed. Shame, really, as she was looking forward to talking about the musical with somebody who would understand her love for them. There was no use in telling Ron about it, especially as by this point their marriage was just for the sake of the children and the eyes of the wizarding public. They were, of course, still great friends, but maybe that was all they ever had been. They were waiting until Rose and Hugo were settled fully into Hogwarts before officially announcing their split, but she knew that it would still be hard on them. Ron had already moved on emotionally (and probably even physically but she did not need to know that!) to one of the women who had been on his team as an Auror, who shared his love of all things Quidditch. Hermione was happy for him, she really was, but maybe it was time for her to find a kindred spirit too?
The Girls, Wednesday 10th May 2017, The Phoenix Theatre, 2.30pm
Hermione was fuming. How DARE Ron get caught kissing another woman in such a public place — did he not realise that the clientele at the Hog's Head were very good at seeing trouble and increasing it? The pictures had been splashed across the pages of the Daily Prophet, with charming headlines such as 'Golden Couple Destroyed in a Moment of Lust' and 'Red-headed Hero Receives the Attention He Deserves'. She had been unable to go into the office without being accosted, and had taken to working from home whilst avoiding the great prat and the world at large. A trip out into Muggle London was just what she needed, to be in a place where nobody knew her name, to be swept along in drama that didn't involve her and her idiotic soon-to-be-ex-husband.
Severus was highly amused. His week was progressing well; a simple (for him) case at St Mungo's where he was able to heal a curse affecting three generations of the same family, his newly planted vegetable patch was thriving in the May sunshine that kept appearing, and the Daily Prophet was once again focused on the trials of the Golden Trio and therefore leaving him well alone for a change. Yes, life was very good, and to top it off he had a ticket for The Girls musical this afternoon, the matinee for a change. He had, of course, seen it when it was at The Lowry last year but there were reports of new songs which he was eager to hear.
As she sank into her seat, Hermione mused that life really was nicer for muggles. No owls pooing all over her office, no howlers declaring her a frigid wife who obviously couldn't satisfy her husband, no backlash from the letters sent to her containing curses. It was the opinion of the world at large that she was to blame for the breakdown of their marriage, as her job was more important to her than her husband was. Not a single person in the 3 days since the photo was taken had contacted her to ask how she was, or to see if she was doing ok; not Luna (who hunted creatures best known to herself most of the year), or Minerva (exams were just around the corner and the love lives of former students can't have been high on her list of priorities) or even Harry. Then again, Harry was such a Weasley these days that taking Ron's side was not a surprise to her. It was high time she disappeared, and a matinee was just the ticket.
Severus found his seat — in the stalls this time, obviously at the back — and discovered that he knew the woman sat in front of him. The lights were already down, the cast were waxing lyrical about Yorkshire (oh how well he understood), so he put it out of his mind to enjoy the show. At the interval, after the oh-so-surprising bra removal, he leant forward and placed his hand on the shoulder of the bushy-haired woman who had been crying steadily throughout Act 1.
"Would you like me to take you somewhere more… private?" The words were out of his mouth before he could even begin to realise what a bad idea this must be. Hermione gave him a shocked look, but must have seen something in his face that inspired trust in her for she allowed herself to be led out of the theatre and onto the little side-street. The cool air and bright sunshine seemed to shock her a little, but she allowed Severus to lead her around the corner and across the street and all of a sudden they were sat on a bench surrounded by trees.
"The Phoenix Garden, it seemed the best place to get some quiet for a moment," he muttered, in answer to her confused look. "Are you all right? Is there anything I can get for you?"
Hermione laughed, so astonished that Severus Snape, feared Potions Master and famous recluse was actually the first person during this whole ordeal to be civil to her.
"Thank you, but I'll be fine." Disbelief marred his face, but she continued, "I assume you've read the papers this week?"
"I have, Miss Granger, which is why I was not prying. Can I instead ask you what you thought of act one?"
"I really enjoyed it, especially the friendship between Annie and Chris", she enthused, still dabbing at her face with the soft handkerchief that had been handed to her. "It's so lovely to see friendship portrayed without competition or fighting, it makes me wish I had a friend like that."
"What about Ginevra Potter?"
"Well as soon as the pictures came out she is off limits — her loyalty has to be to her brother, no matter how much of an imbecile he is. And Harry is lovely, and is trying not to take sides, but he is absolutely swamped at the Auror office and Ron is his best friend. I'll always come second to him."
Hermione took a deep breath, and breathed it out very slowly. "Thank you for the sympathy, Professor, but I'm sure you'd rather be back watching the show than sitting with me out here. Just out of curiosity, is it your first musical?"
Severus chuckled. "By no means is it my first, Miss Granger, probably closer to my hundredth. Don't worry about me seeing the rest of the show, I can quite easily come back another day — I have far more free time than I really know what to do with anyway."
"100 shows? Really? Have you ever seen the same one twice? Only here in London or have you branched out into local theatre? Just musicals or would you consider a play, or a comedy? How did I never know this about you?"
"Breathe, please." His hands went up, a smile on his lips at her frantic questions. It seemed like this had been the right thing to say to take her mind off her marital problems. "Would you care to join me for tea? I haven't eaten yet this afternoon and you could hear the whole story in full if you like."
It took Hermione all of 3 milliseconds to be nodding her reply. "That would be great actually, I am suddenly very hungry! Would you mind if we stayed muggle?"
"I was just going to suggest that, far more inconspicuous. Do you trust me to pick somewhere?"
"Do you mean here in London? I tend to just come in for the theatre and eat nearer home, I admit I know very little about the food round here."
"Allow me to take you somewhere then." Severus stood, offered his hand to the dubious looking woman, put his hand under her elbow, muttered, "One, two, three", and they were gone with a muffled pop.
Wicked, Thursday 29th June 2017, Apollo Victoria Theatre, 7.30pm
The furore over the breakup of her marriage was finally calming down. Hermione had taken a back seat a work, more often than not doing research at home and sending it in rather than making a public appearance. Ron, after moving out of their house in a rage that Molly Weasley herself would have been proud of, had finally consented to the divorce that was calmly and coolly asked of him.
It was time to go back to the theatre. Hermione hadn't trusted herself to return after her total emotional breakdown at the last performance; there was just something about people pouring out their hearts in song that broke hers open too easily. This time, however, she had a companion! She had been corresponding with Professor Snape (Severus! Must remind myself to call him Severus!) on an almost daily basis since he mopped her up at the Phoenix Theatre. Their letters had started off polite, her mentioning how nice it was of him to assist her, him asking about her day at work, and them both exchanging ideas on what he should grow next. Once her divorce was finalised he had started to open up to her a little more, revealing how satisfying he found his work both in the hospital and in his research, and her mentioning just how difficult she was finding living alone, with her friends either taking Ron's side or remaining neutral and consequently distant.
The pair met outside the Apollo Victoria Theatre, in their first actual meeting since she had left his little cottage filled with tea, freshly baked scones with homemade blackberry jam and a surprising amount of sympathy from the icy man. Not bothering to try and talk to each other over the noisy crowd, they found their seats (Severus having insisted on his usual front row dress circle) and settled in for an evening of magic.
"I find it interesting how muggles imagine spells and wizardry" Hermione mused, as they wandered after the performance. "I always knew, growing up, that something wasn't quite right, even in worlds such as Middle Earth, but they obviously realise that there is something they can't see."
Severus actually laughed, making Hermione stumble slightly at the sound before she fell back into step with him. "Are you not aware that Tolkien was a wizard? He was friends with Dumbledore, despite the 10 year age difference, and it was actually him who persuaded Albus to grow that ridiculous beard in the first place! Where did you think the inspiration for Gandalf came from?"
"No way! How did he get away with publishing stories about magic?"
"That, I think, is not a story for muggle London. Would you be adverse to a nightcap?" Severus looked almost nervous, a very strange expression on his usually cold face. "I am part way through an experimental potion which I would very much like your opinion on."
A soft smile lit up Hermione's face. "Yes, that would be lovely, Severus. Will you do the honours?"
They ducked into the nearest snicket, where he went to take her elbow again. Smiling, Hermione placed her hand over his, and they disapparated.
Dreamgirls, Friday 1st September 2017, Savoy Theatre, 7.30pm
Seeing the familiar tall man dressed in his usual black attire made Hermione's heart flutter. The summer had been particularly hard for her, with both of her children home from school and trying to divide their time fairly between her and their father (who would regularly drop them back off early so as to flirt with another of his 'new friends'). It had been tough for all of them but they had come to a decision at the end of August which they could all get on board with — Hermione would sell the house which was filled with so many uncomfortable memories, and the children would live at the Burrow with her and Ron when they were not at school. It made sense; the Potters were usually there, Molly loved to have her precious grandchildren to dote on, and it made a good neutral atmosphere for Ron and Hermione to coexist in. They had become amicable again, a state made possible by Molly catching her youngest son 'in the act' so to speak against the outside wall of his father's shed (seriously, how did he think he would get away with that?) whereupon she had given him the coldest and calmest bollocking any Weasley had ever seen. His abject horror at having been caught with his arse out by his mother had finally knocked some sense into his red head, and he had subsequently made every effort to act like a decent human being.
Hermione was very pleased with her new living arrangements having rented out a studio flat in St Albans (an easy commute by muggle or magical routes). She was very much looking forward to the new start, a sabbatical from the Ministry for a full year, and a wonderful new friend. He nodded to her as they took their seats, looking a little preoccupied.
Severus was extremely nervous. He had spent the entire summer having increasingly personal and stimulating conversations with the woman who now sat at his right elbow flicking through his copy of the programme. She was a fascinating woman; highly intelligent, thoughtful, a fabulous mother, and lovely to be around. Her very presence at his side made him relax; he pored over every letter she sent several times before carefully crafting his lengthy responses; she argued with him over the best way to bake a cake and over which musical was the best in the West End at the moment; and as of last week she had her own patch in his garden in which to grow flowers, his garden previously owning only functional plants. Good grief, he was in love. How had she penetrated the emotional armour that he wore? More importantly, would he ever be able to gain her love in return?
Hermione was acutely aware of the man on her left, scrutinizing his every movement as she pretended to read the programme. He had been her saviour over the last months as her life seemingly fell apart; from the moment he helped her in the theatre to his gift of a little patch of earth last week. His letters kept her afloat, knowing that there was somebody who would listen to her rants without judgement, allow her to be herself rather than a jilted wife or an overprotective mother, but who would draw her out of her misery by amusing her with his own stories and philosophical questioning. The conversation they had shared after Wicked, about muggle celebrities who were actually magical, was one of the most eye-opening of her adult life. She actually looked at the world differently, and he encouraged her explorations wholeheartedly and with much amusement. That was the official reason behind her sabbatical, to research the relationship between muggle and wizarding cultures. The real reason was that she wanted time to herself, to rediscover her worth as a person and not just as a wife or mother, which had been her lot since her rather hasty marriage to Ron.
At the interval, they both sat in stunned silence. Amber Riley had just poured out her soul to a man who didn't want or deserve her, and it struck a raw note in both of them. As the lights went down again for act 2, their hands met in the shared space between their seats, and a tentative squeeze was shared. Apart from side-along apparition, this was the first contact they had shared, Severus being a highly private man and Hermione not wanting to overstep the boundaries. They remained in contact for the duration of the show, not holding hands exactly but definitely touching. As they filed out with the rest of the audience into the brisk September air, Severus gently steered Hermione down a less crowded street. Keeping his hand on her arm, he took a deep breath and let it out slowly before stopping them and carefully pulling her round to face him.
"Hermione, I have a confession to make." He looked down into her expectant face, where she looked back at him with a curious look on her face. "I am really enjoying our interactions, and would like to make them more formally recognised."
He paused, unsure of what to say next. Hermione rescued him by laughing, gripping his arm tighter and replying, "Are you trying to say what I think you are?"
"Which would be…"
"I think you're asking me to date you. You could have just asked me plainly you know, I was wondering if you'd ever catch on to how I feel about you."
Severus looked slightly relieved, but before he could respond he found his arms full, Hermione having stepped into the space between them and wrapped her arms around him. He relaxed into the hug, tightening his arms around her as his chin came to rest lightly on her head. His mind raced, blindsided by the ability of this woman to cut through all his words to the heart of the matter. She stepped back, but not out of his arm span, and looked up at him thoughtfully.
"I would like to continue our confession if you don't mind," she murmured, "preferably somewhere without drunk muggles spilling from every doorway. Would you like to see my new apartment and break in my new teapot?"
"That suits me fine, Hermione."
A smile shared, she stepped back into his arms and whirled them away.
Everybody's Talking About Jamie, Saturday 3rd March 2018, 7.30pm
Snow lay thick on the ground in Yorkshire, but in London it was just a dusting. Severus and Hermione had spent the last 6 months in constant company, with Hermione choosing his little cottage over her own lonely flat most days for her research, for her food, for her rest, just to be with him. They had grown together like a vine, twisting and twirling around the other, complimenting and supporting more with each passing day. They had been tempted to miss this evening's performance and just stay in with a fire and a film, but Severus had managed to get them into London where the weather was far less abrasive.
They found their usual seats, hand in hand, and sat enjoying the fantastic singing and dancing of the cast. Just before a particular song, Severus leant in to whisper in Hermione's ear.
"Listen to Pritti, and the words she says."
Giving him an inquisitive glance, Hermione turned back to the stage as one arm was placed around her shoulder, and a hand on her knee.
'It means something that's only yours to give
It means choosing the way you want to live
It means wonderful
And it means powerful
And it means true'
Severus squeezed her knee, and pulled his hand back.
'It means something as perfect as it's pure
It means waiting until you know you're sure
It means beautiful
And it's beautiful like you'
He placed something on her knee, something small and light, and it was covered by her hand as she watched Pritti singing.
A little bit of glitter in the grey
Something precious you don't simply give away'
She looked down. In her hand was a little black velvet box. Hermione's eyes shot up to meet those of her partner, and found that his face held a rarely seen smile.
'It means something that's always yours to keep
It's the face you don't take off to go to sleep
It means simple
And it means magical like a kiss
It's a path that you choose to walk upon
Not some fleeting thing you find one day is gone'
He opened the box to show a thin gold band with a flower of diamonds. It was smooth, and obviously not new, but it held within it a question meant for only her.
Something precious you don't rush to give away
As the audience applauded, he pulled her out of her seat and into the corridor. Hermione looked stunned, tears in her eyes.
"You know I'm not good with declarations, Hermione, but I do know how I feel about you. I love you, and cannot imagine life without you in it any more. Will you marry me?"
She took a deep breath, the words of the song still echoing around her mind.