Severus was of several minds as he sat amongst his colleagues watching his revenge unfold.  The dominant, self-righteous part of him rejoiced in the glory of success; he heard the amused laughter of the other students, and knew that the guilty parties would suffer from this humiliation for a long time to come.

But, like a devil sitting on his shoulder, other thoughts kept creeping in to disturb his moment of triumph.  He watched as he sat across from Hermione at 'Bellissima' and saw in both his own eyes and those of his date genuine enjoyment.  He'd forgotten for a time why he was with her in the first place, caught up in the pleasure of all-too-rare intellectual stimulation.  Hermione wasn't just book-smart, repeating what she read like a parrot; she could analyze an argument and come to her own conclusions of its validity.  Although he hadn't agreed with everything she'd said, her arguments were well formed and reasonable. 

The screen caught his eye as they rose from the table and walked to the door, the camera following from behind.  Her black dress clung in all the right places, forming a delightful hourglass shape. . .  Severus felt an inexplicable pang of jealousy (of himself?) at the sight of his hand resting against the small of her back.  He quickly pushed it away.

Now they were dancing.  Severus wasn't sure he recognized the look in her eyes as they twirled about the floor; her cheeks were flushed, and her expression was exhilarated, but her eyes. . .it can't truly be. . .affection. . .that I'm seeing?  Whatever it was, the Potions Master saw it mirrored in his own expression.  He swallowed, uncomfortable with the idea of his emotions being on screen for all to read.  With luck they'll believe it was part of the act, he assured himself.

Severus was embarrassed, despite himself, when the leggy blonde approached him to dance.  He'd remembered dropping off the wine at the table and then going off to dance, but once he'd started dancing he had not looked at Hermione until after the dance was over.  He'd focused his attention on the woman and the role he'd been prepared to play, that of the aroused male.  He could see from the film he'd done the job well.  Perhaps too well.  The camera filled in the blanks, panning toward Hermione, sitting alone at the table, watching them with a look he'd often seen on little Ginny Weasley's face. . .jealousy?

Severus had just started reassuring himself that he must be mistaken when the revenge bomb was dropped; he heard the callous words he'd forced himself to say, and felt an uneasy chagrin at the audience's horrified reaction.  He'd been successful; Hermione was humiliated.  But again, he saw the camera eye view of her face, which registered a hurt that was all personal and had nothing to do with the coming humiliation of public exposure.  Her eyes were those of a woman whose self-image had just taken a horrible beating, whose heart had been severely trampled.

The film ended, and Severus was inundated with attention from his colleagues.  McGonagall kicked him in the shin, the wretch, and threatened to transfigure him into an amoeba.  Trelawny, Sinistra, and Sprout were making eyes at him, and Hooch was insisting he partner her at the next ball.  He smiled at each in turn, save Minerva and her sharp toes, his expression stilling when he caught the knowing eyes of Albus Dumbledore.  The old bat was looking at him with that look that says "I know something you don't know."  Geezer.  Severus widened the smile and made his way through the throngs back to his quarters.  Somehow, he didn't much feel like socializing.

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Well, never let it be said that Severus Snape ever does anything in halves, he thought as he closeted himself in the Potions lab after his last class of the day.  He dropped into his desk chair and just sat.  Nearly a week had passed since The Show and not ten minutes went by between jokes at Hermione's expense.  Her own classmates ridiculed her, fair-weather friends those Gryffindors are!  And when they weren't mocking her, they were making eyes at him!  As if any of those children would be of any interest to him.

Hermione herself said very little.  She'd stopped raising her hand in her old eager way, rather spent the entire class staring at her book or into her cauldron.  Her eyes didn't meet his once.

She hadn't been eating, either.  He'd noticed that she'd come to meals either very early or very late, avoiding the rush, and then push her food around for a few minutes before leaving.  Minerva had tried to talk to her, but Hermione just brushed her aside and claimed she had to go to the library.  Potter and Weasley were too busy complaining about their own insignificant humiliations to notice how badly Hermione had been affected; that was just typical, thought Severus.  How could a girl so smart have such rotten taste in friends?

So smart. . .he thought back to their dinner for about the hundredth time.  He couldn't get over how nice it was, and how once they'd really started talking he stopped having to act.  He closed his eyes, remembering.

When he'd led her to the dance floor, her hair bounced softly against her back, brushing his fingers like a caress.  He'd liked the way she looked and felt in his arms, not too tall, not too short, and pleasingly soft, her bosom drawing his gaze with every bounce (he was a man, after all. . .). He recalled the sight of her removing her cloak the first time, revealing the young woman underneath.  Academically speaking he knew her body wasn't perfect, but it wasn't the imperfections that were haunting his thoughts.  The neckline of that dress should have been illegal, and as for her legs. . . Severus wiped some sweat from his brow.  She really is 18, right?  Here's to the advantages of excessive time-turner use. . .as depraved as Severus considered himself to be, a pedophile he was not.  There would be nothing untoward about them spending time together.  The two of them could talk about all the things that he had no one to talk about with, since no one else really cared about the research he conducted other than to ask "Is it done yet?"  And if it happened to evolve into something more, once she was graduated of course, well, that would be a pleasant side benefit.   But then he remembered her face, as captured on film, as he made the crack about having to 'babysit'.  This was the image he couldn't remove from his mind.  The image that told him in no uncertain terms that he was the last person she would want to be friends with.

Severus stood and began to pace, fighting the sudden uneasiness that was threatening to overcome him.  He knew he was not the nicest of men.  Well, that was quite an understatement.  But he never actually tried to hurt people.  Except Longbottom, but that one was too stupid to live.  But not Hermione, he'd only wanted to teach her a lesson about playing him for the fool, he hadn't meant to cause her pain, just embarrassment. 

Well, it was too late now, he told himself.  The damage has been done. 

You could try to talk to her.

Like she'd listen.

No harm in trying.

What would I say? 

Severus sat down again. What could he say to Hermione to try to undo some of the damage?  I didn't mean it?  That would be a lie.  He did mean it at the time.  He just regretted it now that he'd thought things over and realized that he enjoyed being with her and wanted to repeat the experience very much.  And he honestly wouldn't mind holding her delectable body close to his once again either.

So tell her.

Did you miss the part about her not listening?

Ok, so don't tell her.  Wallow in guilt and self pity.

Isn't there a third option?

Not as long as your conscience plagues you, there isn't.  Cad.

I'm not exactly good at apologizing.

Try.

But I don't know how!

There's a first time for everything.

Damn you. . .Severus pulled some parchment from his desk and grabbed a quill.  He started to write. . .

            "Miss Granger,

Quit pouting and stay after class tomorrow, I have some research to show you."

Er, no.  He crumpled up the sheet and started again.

            "Miss Granger,

Words can not express my sorrow at the pain I have caused you, please allow me to make it up to you over dinner next Hogsmeade weekend. . ."

I'm going to throw up now.

Severus growled in frustration as he tore up yet another sheet of parchment.  He just wasn't the beg-for-forgiveness kind of guy, and even if he wrote such tripe Hermione would never believe him.  He sat for several minutes, ruining several more pieces of parchment, before he finally smiled in satisfaction and summoned Brutus to deliver the letter, before he lost the courage to do so.

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Hermione sat and stared at the parchment before her.  On one hand, she still felt that Professor Snape had cruelly humiliated her, and she was not ready to forgive him that. On the other hand, she felt vindicated that he had, in fact, enjoyed her company. Either that or he's trying to turn the screw inside the wound, in which case I will kill him with my bare hands, she thought.

Could she forgive him?  Should she forgive him?  Only time would answer either question.  Did she want to forgive him?  He didn't deserve it.  He was a vindictive slimewad.  But she could talk to him, in a way she couldn't anyone else.  The intellectual in her wanted to forgive him so she'd have someone to theorize and talk shop with.  And he could dance, really dance. . .that part of her longed for a repeat performance as well.  Only her bruised ego held her back.  He'd made her feel like a silly little girl, and it would take a lot to make that pain go away.

"I can't think about this now," she told herself aloud.  She turned to the grumpy little black owl that still stared her down.  "I'm afraid you're in for a bit of a wait."

And then she got changed and ready for bed.

The next morning, the owl was still there, chewing on the collar of the sweater she'd removed and thrown across her chair. 

"Stop that!" she snapped, swatting at the little creature, who squawked at her in disgust.

Hermione grabbed her quill and some parchment, scribbled her answer on it and hurled it at the owl.  "Fine, take that to your master."

***********************************************************************

Severus groaned as he dragged himself out of bed.  He'd barely slept, waiting for the tapping at the window that would announce Brutus' return with Hermione's answer.  Maybe she'd shot the messenger. . .he hoped not, he'd become rather attached to his cranky companion. 

He wandered into the bathroom and began brushing his teeth.  He opened wide and peered into the mirror.  Was it his imagination or were his teeth really getting whiter? 

Preparing for the day took twice as long now, since the Muggles had come and introduced him to their wily ways of personal care.  He'd tried to go to class without blowing his hair dry several days last week, but found himself not wanting to leave his quarters in such a state.  And the "Smooth as Silk" cream really did help, so at least some good came from their visit.  Not enough to counter the after-effects of his revenge scheme, but some.

Tap-tap-tap. 

It's about time, thought Severus as he unlatched the window for Brutus to fly through.  The owl was carrying the parchment in his teeth, it hadn't even been strapped to his leg.  Not a good sign.

            "No deal.  The 'lesson' was public and thus so must be the 'reprise.'  Eat crow."

Eeeh.  Not promising, he grimaced.  But at least she didn't kill my bird!

Severus looked at his pocketwatch.  Blast it, he didn't have time to think about this now, or he wouldn't get his morning coffee.  He'd have to wait until his free period to formulate a good response.  It would have to be very good, he knew.

************************************************************************

"Miss Granger, may I speak to you for a moment?"

Hermione had been gathering her things after the day's Potions class and was about to leave when she heard Snape addressing her.  He hadn't actually spoken to her since The Date.

She waited for the other students to leave, then turned to face him, expression sullen.  "Yes, sir?"

Snape pulled a scroll out of his pocket and handed it to her.  "I thought I'd spare Brutus the trip."  He nodded to her formally and then departed through the back door into his private lab.

Hermione watched him leave, then unfurled the scroll eagerly.

"Dear Miss Granger,

Please consider following counter-proposal:

Recommend Private Reprise at present because it would cause no further speculation amongst your peers or mine.  If said reprise and any subsequent reprisals progress in a Positive Manner, then writer agrees to a Public Display of Reprisal at your graduation celebration.  Writer further agrees to eat amount of Crow determined by you, but prefers not to do so in such a way that puts Job and Livelihood in Jeopardy, as this could limit Quality of Future Reprises.

Yours,

S. Snape

PS.  Found wool fragments caught in Brutus' beak.  Humbly suggest feeding him chocolate instead, it makes him docile."

Hermione read and reread the scroll several times.  Unless she was mistaken, Snape was showing all the signs of having a sense of humor.  How odd.  And he'd seemed unfazed by her all-too-hastily written suggestion to eat crow, she'd half expected to receive detention for that comment, deserved though it was.

She read the note again.  Was it her imagination or was there an implication in there that if they began seeing each other he could lose his job?  There would be no reason for that unless, oh dear, he had some inappropriate ideas in mind for their 'reprise'.  In which case, he actually was giving her a hold over him by wanting to see her in private.  If she told the Headmaster, she could get Snape fired. 

Hermione grinned.  A Gryffindor never turned down a chance to get some good dirt on a Slytherin, especially when the chance for a good debate was on the line.  And maybe, if she was very lucky, some quality snogging as well from Hogwarts' latest heartthrob.

************************************************************************

When Severus returned to his quarters, Brutus was waiting for him, munching on some chocolate, with a note tied to his leg.

"Your terms are accepted.  First Reprisal should take place during my detention with you tomorrow evening. . ."

Detention? Snape puzzled.  I haven't given her detention.  He read on, then chuckled in comprehension.

"You git.

Stocking up on Crow for your feast,

H. Granger"

FINIS

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A/N:  Well, that's all folks!  Snape's last note was influenced by Lady Alice Kyteler's "Diary of a Provincial Potions Master" – I just found myself using her style and loved it too much to stop.  Although it is out of scope for this story, I anticipate that over time Hermione will forgive Severus, although I think he will eat a Whole Lot of Crow at her graduation celebration.  Another dance, perhaps?  Followed by a mind-blowing snog?  I leave it to your imaginations, gentle readers, and thank you for staying with the story to its shippy conclusion.

I like angst – Don't feel bad, I wasn't offended… I just like to keep everyone happy!

KarenDetroit – I don't think Severus is very good with women.  Or with apologizing.  Hermione will have to help him eat sufficient crow to be forgiven.

Alisama2 – Hope you like this one better!

Bazile – Squicky is in the eye of the beholder J  I personally don't find it squicky but some people might.