Author's Note: wow, it's been a while. I've been insanely busy these past few years, and didn't have time to myself to do anything I really enjoyed. Freshman year of college has been great, and I now have some more free time. Hopefully I can find my place in this community again, because it provided me with so much support and entertainment before. I hope you enjoy the story, and reviews are always appreciated!

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter; never have, never will.

Potions Apprentice Hermione Granger was completely Fed Up. After spending nearly all day in the Potions lab, letting her hair frizz and her (favorite) superior mock her, she had to deal with the esteemed Professor Trelawney trying to convince her to give Divination One More Go.

As the Professor began lamenting the waste of her mind on all other subjects, something in Hermione snapped. She looked at the witch, then at her teacup.

"You know, Professor, I think I actually see something," she said. Trelawney looked at her in excitement.

"Is your cup giving you a sign?" she asked.

"Yes, I do believe it is. It says. . . It says—,"

"Yes, yes!" Interrupted the senile old hag. She looked practically deranged, her glasses forcing her wild eyes to the forefront of Hermione's vision.

"My teacup says you're lying," Hermione said quietly. She heard a soft snort to her left, and the strange woman to her right looked panicked.

"No, that can't e right, my dear. Your inner eye must be tainted, for you to—to—," she spluttered.

"Sybill, I suggest you close your mouth before you catch flies," said Professor Snape, and Hermione snickered quietly.

The woman sat up, grumbling, and hobbled away. "Last time I come to dinner," she said scathingly.

"Thank Merlin for that," Hermione said.

As dinner finished, Hermione and Snape returned to their respective chambers. Seeing as Hermione was his apprentice, they shared a large sitting room and library. They also had their own separate sitting rooms, for when they inevitably clashed minds and words.

Hermione emerged from her room through the portrait moments later with a large tome for a bit of light reading. She sat on her favorite chair by the fire and began her perusal, her eyes roaming over the words. She'd always loved fires, whether they were in the Gryffindor common room or in a fire circle, they went wonderfully with a good book.

So enraptured was she that she didn't notice Snape walking to the chair next to her until he was there in his pale glory, reading A History of Polyjuice Potion. She smiled, fond of the subject and the man, and wondered if he knew how predictable he was. Not that she would tell him, of course. Nor would she make him privy to the fondness of her smiles towards him. Absolutely not. Absurd.

They began their unspoken tradition of reading in silence while night wore on. Little did Hermione know, however, that as she read, Severus Snape was looking at her and contemplating the same things she'd been thinking of just minutes previously.

He first noticed her lack of first-year student characteristics in her second year as his apprentice. She'd walked out of her room with pink cheeks and a handful of feminine hygiene wrappers, stating blushingly that the house elves hadn't returned her wastebasket yet. He had waved her along, irritated, but came out of the experience with a new perspective on his young apprentice: She was no longer the young child he perceived her to be. The realization shook him, and from then on he noticed more and more her lack of student robes, and her mature way of thinking. And then, four years after she'd started, the bushy-haired first-year was forgotten and the strong, passionate woman had taken her place. The more he saw of her the more he longed to know her as anything other than his apprentice. Not that he would tell her of his hope. Absolutely not. Absurd.

So he contented himself with making her laugh using sarcasm and doing his best to increase her intelligence. She had grown from sticking adamantly to recipes to experimenting and creating, and Severus prided himself in being the person to help her realize her potential.

His time with her was running out. She was set to graduate at the rapidly approaching end of the school year, and he would miss these nights by the fire, and her laughter at his caustic wit. He needed a way to tell if she was as attached to their current situation as he was. And, of course, since he was the Head of Slytherin, it had to be cunning. Severus smiled at an unaware Hermione. Quite cunning, indeed.

The end of the night saw him in his rooms, planning a rather special private lesson featuring Amortentia the next day.

Hermione walked into the private potions room the next day to the enticing scent of her favorite smell: new parchment, spearmint toothpaste and another. One she had mistaken once as freshly mown grass, but she now knew it was the distinct smell of none other than Severus Snape's body wash (of course, he wouldn't admit to using body wash, but she'd seen him trying to sneak it in at the beginning of the year). She coughed in dismay; anything but Amortentia.

"Miss Granger, now that you have taken the initiative to enter the classroom, I will inform you as to why we are obviously studying Amortentia." He raised a thin brow and Hermione scoffed.

"Though you have already brewed it, you have never taken into account what each ingredient contributes to the potion's ability to smell as one's deepest desire. To this effect, tell me, Miss Granger, what does it smell of to you?"

Hermione knew she went stark white and rigid as a plank, but that wasn't important. What was important, however, was that she was about to reveal that her deepest desire smelled like his bathing soap and the parchment she associated with his essays.

"Miss Granger? Would you like to answer or would you rather stand there like an open-mouthed guppy?"

Hermione flinched and took a deep breath. She squeezed her eyes shut and steeled her shoulders.

"Freshly mown grass, new parchment and spearmint toothpaste," she whispered, anguished. Snape's brows knit.

"Excuse me?"

Hermione's eyes flew open.

"I said I smell freshly mown grass, new parchment, and spearmint toothpaste, Sir."

Snape's eyes flickered with something she didn't recognize just before he turned his back to her.

"Miss Granger, you are to go to your rooms and forget this lesson. Our next shall be in two weeks."

He left the room and slammed the door, but not before seeing her eyes water, like that of a girl wondering what she'd done wrong.

Freshly mown grass! New parchment! Spearmint toothpaste! Who the devil did she admire?

Snape paced in his rooms to and fro for hours, which was how long it took for his hands to unclench and his arms to stop shaking. He didn't know who it was and would probably never know, so he decided to take a much-needed shower.

He washed himself with soap (he would not call it body-wash for men, which it was; he wasn't going to be typical in any way) and stepped out of the shower feeling new and clean and ready to forget. He walked to his desk to write a letter, the smell of ink and new parchment hitting his nose, and he inhaled. The smell always calmed him.

After spending some time reading and writing, he decided to sleep. He went to the bathroom to brush his crooked teeth, a habit he'd formed while trying to subtly court his apprentice, and picked up his spearmint toothpaste. The smell of his soap still permeated the air.

As Snape brushed, he wondered about what, exactly, the smell was. It was very rustic and new-smelling, almost like—

He stopped his brushing.

The smell was almost like freshly mown grass.

He was an idiot.

Hermione's state was such that she could blink away the tears when she didn't think about them. Therefore, after a shower, she settled in with a tin of biscuits and a good (terrible) romance film for her magic-run telly, prepared to yell angrily when the man inevitably ruined everything. The early morning found her bereft of cookies and her hand hanging from the couch in her personal sitting room, her hair moving with her soft breaths as she slept.

The telly was on the menu screen, the light playing across her face when he found her.

He hadn't slept at all that night, the memory of her tears like a dagger to his skin. Every time he closed his eyes, the image of brown hair and pale cheeks danced beneath their lids. He knew it wouldn't leave, so he'd needed to do something drastic—something Gryffindor.

So noted, he'd gone to his cupboard in the morning and retrieved a vial of clear liquid, a blunt knife and, seeing a small sheet of wood in the very back, he grabbed that as well—just to be safe. She was rather violent, when vexed.

Thusly equipped, his wand safely in his pocket, he walked twenty paces to his Apprentice's door and knocked.

There was no answer after the second knock, nor the third, and he tested to see if it was locked. It was. He murmured "Alohomora" quickly, but that didn't further his cause any more than knocking had. It was as he'd suspected—he'd need to use manual means.

He produced the knife from his cloak and wedged it into the lock, twisting this way and that until he heard a faint "Click."

He opened the door cautiously, wary of squeaking and scuffing. There was no need, however, because she was sprawled out on her pale blue couch, fast asleep. However, he couldn't miss her eyes rimmed with red and her downturned lips, even in sleep, twitching into a frown. Severus clenched his fists so that his nails were digging into his palms and tightened his jaw. It was his fault that she fell asleep on the couch crying. Well. He would rectify the situation.

He sat in the cushy chair next to the couch and waited for her to wake.

Hermione woke to a gentle pressure on her abdomen, and a fairly well-off stomach, considering her activities the previous night.

She arched her back off the couch without opening her eyes and brought her hands to the cat that sat on her stomach.

"I've been terrible company, haven't I?"

She got a rather haughty meow in reply.

Sighing, she removed Crookshanks from her lap and sat up, rubbing her arms and reaching for the remote.

She tried to keep herself from wondering what, exactly, was it that she had done?

She could only think of his sneer as he dismissed her, the complaints about her faults, the way he banished half of the potions she produced without so much as a second thought. She thought about the way she felt when he told her to leave and not come back for two weeks.

"What must one do to be counted as good enough?" she wondered out loud. A strangled noise came from straight behind her.

She whipped her head around to meet the dark eyes of Severus Snape, the exact person she wouldn't have liked to see at that precise moment.

He was sitting in her favorite blue armchair, and the domestic sight would have been humorous if it wasn't for the sudden anger taking the place of the hurt. She had thought of asking what he was doing, but she couldn't bring herself to care. She no longer cared if he let her go, either. On the contrary, it would be better that she leave; no unrequited fondness for her to bear, after all.

"I am going to leave," she said without emotion.

She got up and, ignoring all of her belongings, she attempted to walk out of her room and march to the Headmistress' office, prepared to terminate her apprenticeship. However, he grabbed her arm and thrust her back until her legs collided with the sofa and she fell into it in an unceremonious heap. His gaze burned her.

"You have worked nearly four years as an apprentice, do not quit with only months left!" he shouted at her, and something snapped. She was no longer angry; there was only a pure, righteous indignation.

"I must leave, because I had thought better of you. I had thought better of you than spurning me because of my unrequited infatuation. I had thought you were better than you put off. I had thought better of you than to act like you did during my schooldays in face of the truth. I had thought better of you than turning away from me in disgust. I had thought better of you than Harry and Ron and everyone—," she broke off, choking on a sob.

"I had thought everything of you," she whispered before standing and walking to the bathroom, leaving him stranded in the middle of her sitting room.

She sank against the door as it closed.

Severus Snape realized what she must have thought when he left her during their lesson, but he hadn't realized exactly what he'd done to her until she whispered those last words. A small ray of hope flared to life amidst the guilt when she said that, and he had to do something about it. The only logical solution, of course, was to break down the door down the hall with his sheet of wood so he could continue with his plan to convince her that he was sorry (he was) and that he was fond of her (which was an understatement) so he did.

The door to her bathroom burst open after she had decided to sit on the toilet lid, thankfully, so she hadn't been squished.

He charged in wielding a wooden sheet of wood and a grim expression, and once he was inside he locked the door so she couldn't escape. He turned to her and, before she opened her mouth, he spoke.

"I am going to talk, and you are going to listen, and then you are going to think very hard about why I would say what I am going to say, and how truthful I am being."

She blinked at him.

Then, without more preamble, he began.

"I decided on a lesson involving amortentia to see who it was that held your heart. I did not expect, or know, what would come afterwards, or what you would smell. Once you revealed to me what you smelled, I became angry. I thought it was someone other than I who held your affections and, after spending some time in my rooms, realized that I was very wrong. For the pain I caused you through my actions, I must apologize.

"However, I cannot apologize for the lesson itself. I learned some very valuable, and wanted information. And since you've told me your desire, I will tell you mine."

Hermione wanted to protest, to silence him, anything to stop him from tearing her heart in two, because he had to be mocking her, but she couldn't get the words out.

"I smell ink, old books, and oranges. Now, Hermione, think of what this means."

She didn't answer him for a few moments and, after thinking of his reasons and what he smelled and his use of her name, she spoke carefully.

"What if I decided that I don't want to continue, despite what you've said? What if I can't believe you?"

His eyes flickered for a few moments before he reached into his cloak and retrieved an empty vial, which he relinquished to her. Hermione took it and wafted the air around it towards her nose, sniffing. Her eyes widened.

"Truly?" she asked, heart in her throat.

"Truly," he confirmed.

Hermione drew her ink-stained fingers to her recently washed hair, and knew it smelled like her orange-scented soap. She let a tear fall down her nose before walking to the sitting room with Severus Snape trailing behind.

It was there, in the room full of dusty old books, that he had the first human contact he'd had in years.

He drew his thumb across her cheek as his other hand held her waist. She tucked her head under his chin and it was perfect, absolutely perfect, until—

"Mrow!" Crookshanks jumped onto his back in an obvious show of territorial aggression.

"Ingrate," Severus grumbled, but Hermione laughed. She knew he loved Crookshanks.

And it seemed he loved someone else, as well.

Hermione graduated as the best-scoring appreitice that ever walked the halls of Hogwarts and opened up an apothecary with her favorite Potions Master. Severus quit his maddening job at Hogwarts in favor of creating new potions for sale along with their ingredients at Snape and Granger's apothecary, soon to become Snape and Snape's (they couldn't decide whose name should go first in the former, so the rectified the situation through marriage).

It wasn't the most conventional proposal. Rather, Hermione asked what was wrong with him (he was quite red) and he blurted it out. They were married two months later.

Of course they had one child, and they disagreed about her enormously. Hermione thought she was spoilt, and Severus thought she was not spoilt enough. No matter, they always got over it and had an obscene amount of make-up sex afterwards (they never got out of that habit). They both lived to be great old idiots who always gave the most obscure advice with the snarkiest of smiles.

They did not know any of these things as she took him into her room and he pushed her onto her bed, but they would look forward to finding out. At that moment, as they were in ecstasy, the only thing they knew of their story was this:

The things that saved them were a picked lock, a broken door, and a small vial empty of Veritaserum that proved he was telling the truth.

And, at that moment, when their moans were so loud that Crookshanks had to escape to the halls, they honestly couldn't care less.