Snape sat in his cosy little room, a fire burning in the grate and a basket at his side. Most people thought he whiled away his evening hours on marking essays with vicious glee, brewing potions for the infirmary, stalking the corridors in search of errant students or attending mysterious and suspicious meetings. Most people, however, would be wrong; he marked essays during his office hours, Poppy had ample budget to buy commercial medicines as well as the skill to brew her own, and his position at Hogwarts prevented him from dancing attendance on the Dark Lord during the school year.
No, Severus Snape had better things to do with his rare, quiet evening. Tonight, Snape had socks that needed to be darned.
Snape had a small wooden egg that he'd inherited from his mother, who had taught him this among other domestic arts when it became obvious that he had neither the advantages nor disposition to find a wife to do them for him. He gently dropped it into a sock, forcing the egg into the toe so the small hole there was clearly visible against the worn grain of the wood. The woollen fabric was clean and soft, the dye still a deep charcoal grey if not the black it once had been, and Snape felt an odd sort of satisfaction as he took the threaded needle and made the first neat stitch.
This pair of socks had served him well over the years, keeping his ankles warm in the draughty dungeons and cushioning his feet against long days spent on them in the stone-floored castle. Mending them would keep a few extra Sickles in his vault for the day when he could retire, leave this room with its comfortable chairs and soft bed, pervasive dampness and dearth of windows, and move to a beach where he could wear sandals all day, or even walk barefoot in the loose, warm sand.
As the single stitch became a tidy row, the hole closed until it was nearly invisible; a small spell ensured that the thread would stay where it was put and not form a lump at the toe to irritate him when next he wore them. Snape removed the egg, set the mended sock aside, and reached into the basket for the next one, his attention still caught up in how he might look with a bit of colour in his pallid face, his hair grown long and glossy or perhaps shorn altogether in deference to the heat, white linen robes hanging gracefully on his wiry frame.
Most people thought Snape dreamed of tormenting his students, teaching an entirely different subject than the art for which he'd long ago realized his passion, being publicly lauded for his efforts as a spy or even rising to power at the side of the Dark Lord.
Only Snape knew that his real dreams were far simpler, of a life without worry, without pain, without obligation, and most of all, without socks.
Title: Without Socks