If she had to look back and chose a specific moment that started it all, it would be her third year she supposes, it had been a decision she made on a whim. One of those moments that have a rather larger impact on the future than anyone could have guessed at the time.
Snape had been beyond reason, quite deranged really, but she'd still felt bad about the three of them knocking him out, she'd only meant to disarm him…
"We attacked a teacher … we attacked a teacher…" She whimpered, staring at Snape's lifeless body.
The events that followed were mind-blowing. Ron's rat was a thirty four year old man. An innocent man had been in prison for 12 years. Said man and her teacher had been about to kill the rat – man. God, it was nearly too much to conceive.
"What about Professor Snape?" She asked in a small voice and watched will a certain apathy that scared her as Snape rose as though invisible strings were tied to his wrists, neck and knees, head still lolling like a grotesque puppet. He hung a few inches above the ground, his limp feet dangling. He'd only been trying to help.
Hermione had never been part of a stranger group. Crookshanks led the way down the stairs; Lupin, Pettigrew and Ron went next, looking like contestants in a six-legged race. Next came Professor Snape, drifting creepily along, his toes hitting each stair as they descended, held up by his own wand which was being pointed at him by Sirius.
What happened next was a hideous blur of werewolves, rats and dementors.
She woke eventually and heard Snape and Fudge's conversation.
"Shocking business... shocking... miracle none of them died... never heard the like... by thunder, it was lucky you were there, Snape..."
"Thank you, Minister."
"Order of Merlin, Second Class, I'd say. First Class, if I can wangle it!"
"Thank you very much indeed, Minister."
"Nasty cut you've got there... Black's work, I suppose?"
"As a matter of fact, it was Potter, Weasley, and Granger, Minister..."
"Black had bewitched them, I saw it immediately. A Confundus Charm, to judge by their behaviour. They seemed to think there was a possibility he was innocent. They weren't responsible for their actions. On the other hand, their interference might have permitted Black to escape... They obviously thought they were going to catch Black single-handed. They've got away with agreat dealbefore now... I'm afraid it's given them a rather high opinion of themselves... and of course Potter has always been allowed an extraordinary amount of license by the headmaster -"
"Ah, well, Snape... Harry Potter, you know... we've all got a bit of a blind spot where he's concerned."
"And yet - is it good for him to be given so much special treatment? Personally, I try and treat him like any other student. And any other student would be suspended - at the very least - for leading his friends into such danger. Consider, Minister - against all school rules - after all the precautions put in place for his protection - out-of-bounds, at night, consorting with a werewolf and a murderer - and I have reason to believe he has been visiting Hogsmeade illegally too -"
"Well, well... we shall see, Snape, we shall see... The boy has undoubtedly been foolish..."
"What amazes me most is the behaviour of the Dementors... you've really no idea what made them retreat, Snape?"
"No, Minister... by the time I had come 'round they were heading back to their positions at the entrances..."
"Extraordinary. And yet Black, and Harry, and the girl -"
"All unconscious by the time I reached them. I bound and gagged Black, naturally, conjured stretchers, and brought them all straight back to the castle."
Shit shit shit shit shit.
Hermione desperately tried to formulate some sort of a plan with her vaunted intellect but no easy solution was forthcoming. Naturally Harry had leapt into action the moment he was conscious. After his bellowing at the Minister proved futile she tried a slightly different approach.
"Minister, listen, please." She implored. "I saw him too, it was Ron's rat, he's an animagus, Pettigrew I mean and –"
"You see, Minister?" said Snape. "Confunded, both of them... Black's done a very good job on them..."
Both of their continued efforts were in vain and Hermione silently cursed the adults inability to comprehend their mistake. But then Dumbledore was there. Thanks heavens Dumbledore was there. There was hope.
"MISS GRANGER HOLD YOUR TONGUE" Snape spat at her the moment she spoke but for once she didn't take it personally. After Dumbledore had insisted everyone left so he could speak to her and Harry privately, the look on Snape's face scared her.
"You surely don't believe a word of Black's story?" Snape whispered, his eyes fixed on Dumbledore's face, his expression desperate.
"I wish to speak to Harry and Hermione alone," Dumbledore repeated.
Snape took a step toward Dumbledore.
"Sirius Black showed he was capable of murder at the age of sixteen," he breathed. "You haven't forgotten that, Headmaster? You haven't forgotten that he once tried to kill me?"
Hermione gasped. Confusion and panic blurred her vision momentarily.
"My memory is as good as it ever was, Severus," said Dumbledore quietly.
Snape turned on his heel and marched through the door Fudge was still holding. She had seen his expression before he left though, it had been such a mixture of rage, fear and betrayal, and such a contrast to his usual derisive sneer it had hurt to look at and it suddenly struck her that he was human. It was a childish realisation really, but Snape always seemed so utterly inhuman, as if he was discovered rather than born, it shook her and she had to force herself to focus on the task at hand.
Dumbledore's plan was insanity. Don't think, don't think, don't think. She told herself on repeat as she threw the necklace round Harry.
They did it in the end. God, it had been dangerous and stupid and mental but Sirius was safe for now and they hadn't been seen or eaten by a werewolf or had their souls sucked out by dementors so she was definitely going to count it as a win. Feeling rather pleased herself, Hermione happily ate the chocolate Madam Pomfrey offered and relished the warm feeling it gave her as she allowed it to melt in her mouth.
Then they heard a distant roar of fury echoing from somewhere above them...
"What was that?" said Madam Pomfrey in alarm.
Now they could hear angry voices, growing louder and louder. Madam Pomfrey was staring at the door.
"Really - they'll wake everybody up! What do they think they're doing?"
Hermione was trying to hear what the voices were saying. They were drawing nearer -
"He must have Disapparated, Severus. We should have left somebody in the room with him. When this gets out -"
"HE DIDN'T DISAPPARATE!" Snape roared, now very close at hand. "YOU CAN'T APPARATE OR DISAPPARATE INSIDE THIS CASTLE! THIS - HAS - SOMETHING - TO - DO - WITH - POTTER!"
"Severus - be reasonable - Harry has been locked up -"
The door of the hospital wing burst open. Fudge, Snape, and Dumbledore came striding into the ward. Dumbledore alone looked calm. Indeed, he looked as though he was quite enjoying himself. Fudge appeared angry. But Snape was beside himself.
"OUT WITH IT, POTTER!" he bellowed. "WHAT DID YOU DO?"
"Professor Snape!" shrieked Madam Pomfrey. "Control yourself!"
"See here, Snape, be reasonable," said Fudge. "This door's been locked, we just saw -"
"THEY HELPED HIM ESCAPE, I KNOW IT!" Snape howled, pointing at Harry and Hermione. His face was twisted; spit was flying from his mouth.
"Calm down, man!" Fudge barked. "You're talking nonsense!"
"YOU DON'T KNOW POTTER!" shrieked Snape. "HE DID IT, I KNOW HE DID IT -"
"That will do, Severus," said Dumbledore quietly. "Think about what you are saying. This door has been locked since I left the ward ten minutes ago. Madam Pomfrey, have these students left their beds?"
"Of course not!" said Madam Pomfrey, bristling. "I would have heard them!"
"Well, there you have it, Severus," said Dumbledore calmly. "Unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I'm afraid I don't see any point in troubling them further."
Snape stood there, seething, staring from Fudge, who looked thoroughly shocked at his behaviour, to Dumbledore, whose eyes were twinkling behind his glasses. Snape whirled about, robes swishing behind him, and stormed out of the ward.
"Fellow seems quite unbalanced," said Fudge, staring after him. "I'd watch out for him if I were you, Dumbledore."
"Oh, he's not unbalanced," said Dumbledore quietly. "He's just suffered a severe disappointment."
"He's not the only one!" puffed Fudge. "The Daily Prophet's going to have a field day! We had Black cornered and he slipped through our fingers yet again! All it needs now is for the story of that Hippogriff's escape to get out, and I'll be a laughingstock! Well... I'd better go and notify the Ministry..."
Hermione didn't really hear much after that. Snape's fury, his complete loss of control bothered her, she recalled how fast Snape had run to get to them, how manic he'd been in the shack, but he hadn't harmed anyone, not Lupin or Black. He'd seemed so deranged in their company, his usual composure a million miles away; over the course of the night he'd shrieked, snarled, roared, bellowed and howled like a mad man. His whispered plea came back to her….
"You haven't forgotten that he once tried to kill me?"
She was shocked to realise that this must be about so much more than a schoolboy grudge, whatever had happened between them all those years ago, it obviously still an open wound to Snape, and despite all his hatred and yelling he hadn't hurt anyone. He hadn't killed Sirius, he hadn't even hexed him, and she guiltily remembered Sirius allowing Snape's head to bump almost continuously on the low ceiling. She'd watched her Professor collect them after the incident with the dementors and he hadn't exactly been gentle, but he did conjure stretchers for them, Sirius included, she quickly took stock of herself. Nope, no injuries. Snape obviously hadn't used the opportunity to ram her into anything and she probably wouldn't have even blamed him even if he had; he'd run to confront someone he believed to be a murderer and a werewolf who he knew hadn't taken his potion to save 3 students he obviously hated and all they'd done in return was knock him unconscious. And now probably lost him an Order of Merlin. Shit. She made her mind up there and then.
"You explain," said Harry, helping himself to some more chocolate.
Hermione blinked at him in confusion. Oh. Ron was awake.
"You explain Harry." She replied. "And cover for me if Madam Pomfrey comes back."
And before she could change her mind, she uttered a quick Alohomora, and headed after Professor Snape.
Thanks for reading!
This story will be pretty much compliant with the books, what happens between Hermione and Severus will sort of be behind the scenes, obviously I'll have to make a few minor changes for this to take place properly. It's going to be a gradual relationship development between them because Severus isn't the nicest person in the world and they're both very stubborn individuals! I have a pretty clear idea as to how this story will develop, my Severus is going to be pretty messed up and I want to keep them both as in character as I can manage, but if you have any opinions as to how you think they should respond to one another or anything let me know.
I'm so excited to continue writing!
All text in italics is taken directly from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, obviously by the amazing J.K Rowling. I own nothing!