Hermione struggled to focus on the alarm clock next to her bed as whoever it was knocked on her door a second time.
"Come in," she called out quietly, fumbling for her wand and lighting the room's lamps with a non-verbal spell.
Severus stood in her doorway, his grey nightshirt covered with a black towelling robe, his wand lit in his hand. "Rumour has it that your Weasley shadow plans to propose tomorrow during your twenty-first birthday party," he said in a disparaging tone.
Hermione glared at her visitor, which might have been more intimidating if her eyes weren't still screwed mostly shut until they grew accustomed to the light. "I think you mean tonight during my twenty-first birthday party."
"But he is going to propose?" Severus pounced.
"Maybe," Hermione replied defensively, but then her tone turned to one of exasperation. "I don't know. I didn't think he had to make an appointment. Or was he meant to come and grovel before the great Severus Snape and ask permission?"
"It would be a start," Severus barked. "Get some clothes on, girl, and be in the sitting room in three minutes. If you're even thinking of saying yes to that redheaded Quidditch obsessed cretin, then there is something you have to see first."
Hermione looked down, blushing to the roots of her sleep-tousled hair as she remembered that she'd thrown off her T-shirt when she'd grown too warm trying to get to sleep.
"So where are we going, Grumpypants?" Hermione asked as she followed the wizard up flight after flight of stairs, her eyes transfixed by flashes of bare ankles, until her own legs protested.
"To the room of ungrateful females," Severus retorted.
"Strangely, no one complains about my demeanour except you," Hermione retaliated. "Could it be that you bring out the worst in me?"
"Dubious. I suspect that Weasley is just too scared of you to criticise."
Hermione rolled her eyes as Severus paced to and fro before the tapestry with the ballet-dancing trolls. "The Room of Requirement?" she asked. "You woke me up to bring me to the Room of Requirement?"
Severus threw the door open with a flourish. For now, the room was about the size of an average bedroom. A leaded window showed moonlit mountains and a sliver of lake. The rough stone walls and flagged floor were unadorned except for one piece of furniture. A tall free-standing mirror in an ornate frame.
"Is that what I think it is?" Hermione asked in a slightly awed tone.
"Unless Weasley's stupidity is catching, I suspect so," Severus answered.
"He is not stupid, and you know it. He's training to be an Auror."
Severus snorted. "I taught him for long enough. I think I'm allowed an opinion, and we're not here to find out if he's going to be published in Dark Arts Monthly. We're here to find out if he can give you what you really want. Now, look!" He placed his hand firmly in the small of her back and pushed her forward, hoping against hope that she would see anything other than herself with Weasley.
"Well?" Severus demanded sharply. "Is he there?"
Hermione turned, her eyes bright. "I'm accepting my Masters' Certificate from Professor Flitwick. He's there applauding. We're wearing matching rings."
Severus sighed heavily. "I suppose it's inevitable then."
"Charles is lovely," Hermione argued, tugging Severus toward the mirror and stepping away from it herself. "Now tell me what you see!"
"Charles is a quarter French!" Severus answered as if this were sin enough. He gave another sigh as if he were being sorely put upon, but he gave the young woman an affectionate glare and gave in. "I see myself as I was at the end of the second Voldemort War, though perhaps a little more handsome than I ever was in real life, and I see your grandmother as she looked when she first told me she was pregnant with your mother."
"You want to be young again?" Hermione asked, pressing in against her grandfather's side.
"I wish I had all that happiness still to come," Severus corrected. "Being loved by your grandmother, watching your mother and then you and your brother grow up to be fine young people has been the best thing in my life. May you be as fortunate with your Veela-spawn as I've been with your grandmother. Even if she will moan for an hour after I get back about waking her up with my cold feet." He pressed a gentle kiss to Hermione's ink-black curls.
"You could always cast a Warming Charm," Hermione suggested.
Severus's eyes took on an evil gleam. "Where's the fun in that?"