Anti Litigation charm: None of these belong to me, not making any money, if you sued you would only get my daughter in part exchange..then again!

I won't repeat this at the top of each page, I'm sure you get the general idea.

If there are any beta's who have a spare few minutes I would be exceptionally grateful for a nudge in the grammar direction.

As always, please leave a little contribution in the little box. I haven't written in this genre before and I need your support to let me know if it is complete pants! Constructive crits always welcome, flames will be used to heat my dungeon. Thanks Susy

Embarrassment and Ire

Grabbing her book bag from the floor and angrily scrapping her chair back Hermione stalked out of the common room, leaving the bewildered boys to stare after her.

"Well," said Ron looking at his best friend expectantly, "are you going after her?"

"Why me?" questioned the dark haired boy, pushing his glasses further up his nose nervously, "It wasn't me who riled her up!"

"Well I certainly didn't!" exclaimed the red head, "I just asked her about her notes from the last Binn's lecture. Nothing to get upset about was it?" The other boy shock his head solemnly, neither of them had the faintest comprehension of the magnitude of their friends ire.

Peace, the library was what she needed. She was not used to losing her temper so completely, but she had been provocated on so many occasions lately that she had finally snapped. It had been a temper tantrum worthy of a spoilt two year, but it had stopped her from hexing her two friends into next week and back..just!

Her shoes clicked on the worn stone of the corridors, the echo of her footsteps rebounding off of the heavy carved stone ceilings, continually circling the sound until the corridor resonated with it. Her way was lit by the brilliance of the full moon which shone brightly through the gothic windows, throwing the usually gloomy corridor into relief. Shadows still clung to the statues, darkened recesses looking more threatening in this light. She was not supposed to be out after curfew, and although she had snuck out with Harry and Ron before, this time was different, she was alone.

Her thoughts were brought back to her anger with them, she pictured their faces as she slammed her fist on the table before screaming at Ron to do his own bloody work for a change. They had looked at her with horror, they didn't have a clue why she was upset. She wasn't jealous, she wasn't. she told herself. It was just a little difficult to adjust to being the odd one out in their group. The boys had begun to date this term, and were totally wrapped up in their raging hormones. Even Quidditch seemed to have suffered, with practise sessions being interrupted by shouts of encouragement from their respective girlfriends. It was difficult being the third cog, the spare wheel. The sympathy invitations for her to join them in outings had ended in her staring into her butterbeer as the lovebirds cooed over each other. They hadn't even noticed her.

There was also the little matter of the potions class. Gods, what had she been thinking of! Of course, she knew what had prompted the incident, she just didn't understand the ramifications. A simple invitation from Lavender and Parvarti to join them for a girly evening had sounded too good to be true. She had wanted to find like minds, to find a sympathetic ear or two to discuss whatever girls normally talked about. It seemed at first to be working, she talked about boys, about hair, about boys, about makeup and mainly about boys.

"So, who do you fancy then? You have been awfully quiet Hermione" Lavender grinned at a squirming Hermione. She had known the question was coming, but she still didn't have an answer.

"I don't"" she said to their disbelieving faces, "No, really. I don't really know any other houses well enough and the boys from Gryffindor are, "she paused, "Well they are all friends!" she whined.

It was the truth after all. She couldn't feel that way about any the boys she had grown up with, too many life or death experiences had made sure that she thought of them all as family. The discussions about Ron and Harry's potentiality as boyfriends had turned her stomach! Gods, it would be awful, just like dating your own brother...ewwh!

"Well there must be someone you like" Lavender said exasperated, Hermione was proving to be difficult company. "What about the prefects?" she said, reasoning that at least Hermione was on first name terms with most of them, whatever house they were in.

"Uhm, no, not really." she replied, "I suppose that Alberic Hexworthy is kind of alright. He's bright, a Ravenclaw, tallish." she trailed off, looking into the bored expressions on the faces of the girls in front of her

"What about the teachers then?" Parvarti said, her exasperation showing in her tone,

"Surely there is one you might like? "Her eyes began to twinkle as suddenly she leaned in towards Lavender. The pair of them put their heads so close they were almost touching and whispered exaggeratedly

"Sirius Black.swoon!"

Hermione stifled a giggle, "No, definitely not Professor Black. I have great respect for all of my teachers, I don't have any preferences of that nature. I like them all" she paused, "Well most of them anyway." her voice sounded uncertain.

"You don't sound too certain?" Lavender said in a questioning tone, smothering a giggle at the red stain spreading over Hermione's cheeks.

"So what are we looking for in a potential boyfriend, what are your requirements madam?" Parvarti asked, putting on her best snotty shopkeeper's voice and holding her quill ready at her parchment.

Hermione laughed, relaxing a little. "Well, he's got to be intelligent."

"Counts most of them out for a start." said Parvarti, giggling.

"And tall, a little over 6 feet would be good." Hermione was beginning to warm to this.

" What hair colour?" both the girls asked and looking in surprise into each others eyes they dissolved into a fit of the giggles together, holding onto their sides as they fell backwards onto the bed.

"Dark, with dark eyes. Not necessarily handsome, but someone who managed to make me laugh and cry in the same breath. A man who can challenge me, a man who would accept me for myself." she broke off aware that the girls had stopped giggling and were now sitting on the edge of the bed, gripping the covers in their hands and staring at her with saucer wide eyes, utterly captivated.

The lose of her voice seemed to snap them out of their trance, and they shifted awkwardly.

"Sounds like Snape, all dark and snarky!" laughed Lavender,

"Yuk" yelled Parvarti and dissolved back onto the bed in another fit of laughter.

The conversation had gone downhill from there, with more impossible matches being suggested. When at last Hadgrid's name came up, simply because he was over 6 feet tall, Hermione pleaded a headache and went to bed.

He still hadn't arrived, which was the only reason that the class was talking animatedly. Hermione was sitting in her usual place, well away from Lavender and Parvarti. They kept looking round at her and giggling. It was unnerving. Suddenly, filling the room with his dark presence, the Potions master swept in, his voice startling his students into silence.

"Open your books at page 758, we will be attempting the strengthening potion. Some of us," he added looking directly at Hermione, "may even manage it." At this he turned his head sharply, a bird like action which brought his eyes to Neville. "Then again, I shall not hold my breath." he intoned, the sarcasm thick enough to cut.

Neville seemed to shrink in on himself, he whimpered, scanning the page in front of him to find anything he could actually do. Hermione's protective instincts had taken over and she smiled encouragingly at him, trying to raise his spirits.

"Come on Neville, I'll help you know. You can do this." she whispered the litany to the shaking boy.

"Miss Granger, I believe you have enough to do with your own work, without trying to do everyone else's. "he said, scowling at her and sweeping up to his desk. He sat, pulling a pile of marking towards himself, his scowl becoming deeper as he graded. The lesson had continued with no other problems, even Neville seemed to be managing without too many hissed instructions.

"Exactly what do you think you are doing Miss Brown?" his silky tone cut through the gentle susurration in the dungeon classroom. Lavender had stopped, mesmerised like a rabbit in headlights.

"Sorry Sir. "she mumbled, trying to hide the parchment in her bag. He stood, casually walking to her desk and holding out a hand for the offending item.

"Now, Miss Brown." A note of warning in his voice caused Lavender to shift uncomfortably. She handed him the parchment, visibly flinching as he unrolled it and scanned its contents.

Hermione did not believe that his scowl could have become any deeper, but she was mistaken. Cold fury wiped all expression from his face before it settled into harsh lines. His eyes widened perceptively and he looked up, straight into her panic stricken face. The look lasted only a split second but it was enough to tell the whole class that the contents involved her. He registered the fierce blush which erupted on her cheeks, heard the soft groan and saw as she trembled, her courage beginning to fail her.

So, he thought, this was interesting. Must be losing it Snape, they would never have dared think such things about you last year. He snorted, rolling the parchment back up and striding off to his desk. He placed it with exaggerated care into a drawer, and without turning growled,

"Tonight 7pm Miss Brown, and don't make any plans for the next two days either!"

Hermione had no idea how she managed to get through the lesson. Even the Slytherins were subdued, their laughs and comments restricted after a warning glance from their head of house. As the bell went for the period end she hurriedly stuffed her belongings into her bag, her need to run paramount in her mind.

"Miss Granger, a word" he stated, watching her frantic actions.

Hermione stopped in shock, nervously looking up at the dark figure at the front of the class. She slowly made her way up to his desk, biting her lip and clenching her fingers convulsively. He waited, watching her discomfort, until the class was empty of the brats.

"I have I believe warned you about your choice of friends in the past?" he questioned. She nodded, keeping her eyes on his chest, not daring to look into his face.

"You seem incapable of choosing the right sort Miss Granger. Be more careful from now on. I will hold you responsible for their actions in future." He sneered, hoping for a reaction from the silent girl. He was rewarded as her voice exploded from her,

"But that's not fair! I had nothing to do with whatever Lavender wrote." She saw his expression change to one of curiosity. "I don't know what she wrote Professor, but I can guess that it wasn't something very complimentary to either of us." She said

"It was..interesting." he stated, his head leaning to one side slightly, his eyes narrowing in assessment of her.

"I'm sorry Sir, I don't know what else to say. I shall certainly be keeping away from them from now on." She finished mutely hoping his anger was satisfied with her apology.

"You may go Miss Granger" he said, suddenly sounding very tired with the whole business.

Hermione had grabbed her bag and fairly run out of the classroom, straight into the arms of Ron and Harry, the suddenly concerned best friends again.

Snape bowed his head, resting it in his hands and concentrating on breathing. Did she have no idea what had been written on the parchment? She must have said something to Brown to elicit such a missive. He glanced over to the draw where the offending letter was securing hidden. Merlin, if this got out it would ruin her! Of all the irresponsible acts, this was, well this was..His thoughts ran out of steam, his anger draining away. This was most interesting, he thought, remembering the way her hair fell in front of her eyes when she bowed her head in submissive apology.

She lifted her head, shaking her hair from her face and peering at her surroundings. Her moment of introspection had allowed her feet to lead her away from her usual well trodden path. She was not near the library, at least she didn't recognise her surroundings. The corridor she was in seemed non descript, curving around a half hidden statue several yards away. Hermione stopped before a wooden door set into the stonework. She should turn around and go back to the common room. She should be sensible and return. Hermione thought about the tantrum in the common room and decided, embarrassment and anger being equal, that she would explore. She was fed up being the quiet one who did as she was told. All that seemed to achieve was being ignored or humiliated by your so called friends. With a concerted buzz of positive energy she cautiously turned the handle and opening the door she peered into the unknown room.

The room took her breath away. Double height with vaulted stone ceilings and a floor length window of tiny twinkling panes, the room was dominated by two things. A large stone spiral staircase swept up from the centre of the room, disappearing into the ceiling above. The second feature was the mural. This is what had so captivated Hermione as she had stood in the doorway. Her mouth open as she gasped in pleasure, she walked spellbound into the room, gazing with amazement at the huge mural which wrapped it's way around the walls, covering them and enclosing her. Among the flora there cavorted animals, herds of deer and wild horse, rabbits munching at the verdant grass and butterflies detaching themselves from the scene to flutter past her nose and into the other wall. The whole atmosphere reminded her of a Disney movie, the colours bright, the animals cute but naturally depicted. The mural continued around the outer shell of the staircase, moving up towards the room hidden in the blackness of its coil. The mural curved upwards, becoming more fantastical as it rose, beckoning the girl higher. As she climbed she gazed around her, smiling in apology as a frightened herd of deer scampered off, settling in a far off copse of ash. Her foot missed a step and faltering she found that she was at the top of the stairs in a room similar to the one below. Ahead of her, set into an ancient stone lintel was a door, words glowing in golden flowing script lit its frame. With her head on one side Hermione tried to read the inscription, but the meaning of the words eluded her. She knew that she had seen the script before, knew that it was not a human hand which had written these words, but would need several reference books to decipher it. Warning bells screamed in her head but she felt compelled to open the door. Her free will was suppressed as she moved forward, her hand turning the handle shook and she took the step which would alter her life.