AN: Got this idea after finishing OotP and had to see if I could do it justice. It's my first HP fan fiction, actually, second fan fiction ever, so it's probably going to have a lot of bumps that need smoothing out. If anyone is interested in beta-ing future chapters, please let me know. Obviously, I don't own any of the characters; wouldn't know what to do with them if I did. Hmmm, actually, Draco I might know what to do with. =P
"Really, Professor, it's the only way, don't you think? I mean, since Harry won't, and I doubt you want to anymore, but if I could instead and then…. Professor?"
Severus Snape closed his eyes and rubbed the area between his brows. When he opened his eyes, the droning had stopped, but Hermione was still there, looking at him quizzically.
"Professor, did you hear what I said?"
"Yes, Miss Granger, I did."
"Oh. Well, then, what do you think?"
"Miss Granger, a request such as the one you made requires more than the twelve seconds you allowed me to answer. Now kindly sit down and allow me to think, without interruption."
Hermione's eyes widened at the abusive tone he had suddenly adopted and backed away from the desk. She stepped backwards without turning, sitting down abruptly as her calves hit the chair behind her. She landed on her bottom with a gasp but did not remove her gaze from her Potions teacher. He was resting his elbows on his desk with his eyes closed once again, rubbing his temples with his fingers.
Snape was conflicted. While there weren't many things he would like less than to spend additional time with this insufferable know-it-all, he had to admit that what she had suggested made a certain amount of sense. It didn't mean he had to like it, though.
Finally, he sighed and looked up.
"Miss Granger, before I can seriously consider your request, I have a few questions for you." He could see her swallow before she nodded. "Does the headmaster know about this?"
"Not yet, sir. I mean, I would have asked him first, of course, but I can't seem to find him. I've been…."
Severus waved his hand to dismiss her excuse.
"Miss Granger, if we are to proceed you must learn to answer my questions directly and cease with your insipid babbling. Do you understand?"
Once again she nodded and said, "Yes, sir."
"Good. Now my next question. Does Potter know of your ingenious idea?" Hermione had heard Snape belittling the Gryffindors in Potions class long enough to recognize the sarcasm in his voice.
"No, sir, I…." Hermione started to explain, but remembered his words and thought better of it. She clamped her mouth shut instead and looked down at her clasped hands as Professor Snape sneered at her.
"No one ever said you were the smartest in your class without reason." As soon as he had said the words, he regretted them. Hermione had looked up at him quite suddenly, her mouth forming a small "o".
Before she could look too pleased with herself, Snape continued.
"Seeing as how neither Dumbledore nor Potter know of your scheme, I will have to assume that this was entirely your idea."
"Yes, sir, it is."
"And have you thought through the consequences of what this plan would entail if I agreed?"
"Yes, sir, I have."
"Miss Granger, you are sorely trying my patience."
"And knowing this, you continue to interrupt me!" Professor Snape suddenly stood up and leaned forward on his desk to emphasize his point. "Miss Granger, if I didn't know better, I would think you're trying to convince me to deny your request!" he said silkily.
Hermione could feel her heart pounding, her breath growing faster. More than anything she wanted to stand up and shout back at him, but she knew that would get her nowhere with him. And she desperately needed his permission to proceed. She concentrated on calming herself, knowing that this was part of what she would have to learn, if only he would agree.
Snape smiled inwardly as he recognized what she was doing. He had meant for the last outburst to be a test of sorts—to see if she could do what Potter could not. Satisfied, he sat down again and reached for a quill and scroll.
"One point to Gryffindor, Miss Granger, for control of temper." He saw the gleam of triumph in her eyes and continued. "However, before I commit to anything, I will require you to do some research on the subject, something which I believe you are quite capable of doing?"
"Oh, yes, sir. I've already searched the library for anything on the subject, but…."
"The reason, Miss Granger, that you were not able to find the proper resources, is because the only books that relate to this topic are found in the restricted section."
"As such, I will write you a pass for Madam Pince, which will allow you access to the proper books. I trust that you will be able to keep your hands and eyes out of those not on this list?"
"Yes, sir. Of course, sir." Hermione found it hard to return his stare, wondering if he knew what had happened the last time she had been allowed into the restricted section.
"Very well, Miss Granger. I will expect you to return a week from today, at which time I will assess if you are, in fact, worthy of my time and effort."
"Yes, Professor. Thank you, Professor."
Severus watched as the girl reached for the slip of parchment he handed her and exited the classroom as quickly as she could without actually running. When he was certain that she was gone, he allowed himself to lean back in his chair. He raised his arms and clasped them behind his head. Those who knew him well (except that there weren't any) would recognize that the expression on his face was not the grimace expected, but in fact, one of resignation and determination, laced with the slightest glimmer of interest. For it would seem, that in a week's time, he would no doubt be teaching Hermione Granger, Gryffindor prefect and Muggleborn friend of Harry Potter, the arts of Occlumency.