Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or the Harry Potter series of books. I am making no money from the distribution of this fanfiction.

Author notes: This is my first fic, please be kind. Rating will go up in later chapters as the story progresses.

Chapter one: Knowing Severus

Severus Snape sat at his mahogany desk and wrote out his lesson plans for the following week. His hands tangled as ivy around his quill, tired and decayed, it wrote out of necessity, not desire. His brain moved quickly from one topic to another without the recognition of one above another. He had to admit, finally, to himself that his present thoughts were concentrated elsewhere and that he couldn't be bothered to write lessons plans in his current state. He rose softly and caressed the etchings of vines around his desk before pouring himself a glass of fire whiskey and retiring to his private quarters. He realized that the fire whiskey would be his confidant that night, perhaps the next he would be would chose something more sophisticated and suiting to his character. After he folded the sheets of his four-poster bed back, he removed his robes and lay down upon the Egyptian cotton warmth. He doubted greatly the need for his rather warm velvet blanket that night, the whiskey usually kept him warm enough beneath the covers and no one fancied a sweaty, greasy, slimy professor in the morning. (Not that he expected anyone to be there in the morning after all.) He sighed gently into the night and whispered "Nox" extinguishing his only light. Tomorrow was going to be a terrible day.
The next morning, Severus awoke to find the house elves had replaced his glass of whiskey with a glass of hot tea and some biscuits. They had also covered him tightly with the velvet blanket sometime in the night. He cursed them beneath his breath, but thanked them in his head as they had been taking care of him without hesitation or compensation for over twenty years. The shower that morning was welcome and comfortable, he realized it had been too long since he had enjoyed such a wonderful shower. He pulled his hair from his face and stared blankly into his mirror.
"Quite fetching today, Severus." The mirror quipped.
"Don't be cheeky." He replied to the mirror, yet he knew that would be the only compliment he would receive that day. He didn't dwell, any longer, on the fact that the world did not consider him to be the most satisfactory looking potions master. They valued his work and his expertise, but love had evaded him since his childhood, even then his mother loved him because of the fortune he could one day give her. His father, well, that was another story completely. He had decided many years ago that a life of love was not a life he fancied; so he devoted his life to the pursuit of knowledge and cure for illnesses. His life's ambition was not to become a sniveling, purse-holding husband at his wife's beck and call. He had no intention of continuing a life tainted with things he had no control over, so he gave up the finer sex and decided to live in his dungeons, alone. He gave up pleasure in the pursuit of the greater aspects of genius and self-control. Yet, even with all his successes and accolades, loneliness followed him about as a moth to a flame and he had been burned several times. Burned deeper than any death mark and more painful. Love was not a subject Severus cared to elaborate on. Alas, there was always someone to provoke him into another date, normally Albus on his holiday having met (supposedly) nice and agreeable witches wherever he happened to be. He often owled Severus and beckoned him to join him; yet Severus knew Album's heart belonged solely to one Deputy Headmistress and therefore had probably only wanted Severus to find company among people rather than potions and books. Though he never accepted, he would've felt slighted if Albus didn't invite him at least once a year. Today was the start of another term. Another eight months of ignorant brats and precocious know-it-alls. He would conquer the year as he always and remain sober long enough to drink another summer away once more.

Chapter 2: Old Times

"The directions for the potion are here, on this board. Do follow them or Gods save us all." Severus flicked his wrist and the directions for the potion were on the board. His voice barked abnormally loud that mid- afternoon while he had the ravenclaw and Hufflepuff fifth years. They were to be working on a dreamless sleep draught, yet he worried somehow that none of them would succeed in creating the potion with any distinction. When the class had ended and Severus adjourned to his private office, he ate slowly through a shepherds pie and pumpkin juice. Of course if a student had caught him drinking the juice, he would deny it. At a quarter after three, he had to meet with a ministry official about the latest Wolfsbane potion he had been perfecting. He felt assured that his new discovery would revolutionize the consumption and duration of the potion.
"Enter". He replied to knocks on his office door. As the door opened, Severus stood to greet the woman as she stepped slowly through the door, not looking at her face. "Good day, Professor Snape." Hermione Granger-Hopkins offered. She took a seat nearest to her ex-professor and removed her quill and parchment from her large bag. "I have read your letter several times and am quite interested that you've continued your research of the Wolfsbane potion. What are your new discoveries, Sir." He braced himself on the edge of his desk and stared into her chestnut brown eyes. They hadn't changed much in four years, yet her face seemed aged and weary, the war had taken its toll. Her courage and determination hadn't wavered an in inch, yet he could see how tired and deprived she was. His eyes traveled from hers to the now healed scar across her left cheek; he had put that deformity there. "I have been developing a potion similar to the Wolfsbane that requires the active blood cultures of the wolf, in a lucid form, and the addition of peppermint leaves which oddly makes the root adhere to the blood. The adherence of the two elements make the potion more powerful and takes away the horrible taste. The wolf would therefore only have to take the potion every three to six months and not every month." Hermione had jotted down all the details on her faded parchment. The constant scratching of her quill made him remember her student years when she had taken enough notes to start a library. Her long, slender hands folded the parchment back to write the date at the top. She also wrote his full name and location of the interview.
"Have you tested the potion successfully, Severus...Professor Snape?" He turned quickly as she said his given name. He hadn't heard her utter the name since the fall of Voldemort.
"Yes, Remus Lupin has been my test subject. He took it six months ago and hasn't needed a stronger dose or any dose since then. He says the feelings he normally would have the days approaching the full moon have wavered almost completely. " Her eyes widened and fell back to her notes. Thoughts of the importance of his discovery ran through her mind like flashes of memories from her days working in the potions lab with him. Happy days before the war and the end of their acquaintance. She had noticed him looking at scar; she wondered if he even remembered putting it there.
"This is positively amazing." She whispered taking a vial of the liquid and surveying it with her monocle. " You will be rightly praised, Severus." The need for formality had expired. She placed the vial in her pocket and her parchment in a folder marked "Urgent". He wondered if she enjoyed her job at the ministry. Then it was obvious he had been silent too long, so he made words appear.
"Thank you, Ms. Granger."
"After further tests, the ministry will begin to distribute the potion to test cases and such; with your permission of course. If everything goes well, you'll probably need to come to the ministry to approve bottling and distribution. And it's Hopkins now. " She paused, taking her eyes from his. She had always felt intimidated by his onyx eyes. She also felt that if she stared into them any longer, she would lose herself once more and forget her purpose of the day. " This potion will promote the safety and stability of werewolves everywhere, Professor. The whole magic community should be thanking you." She thrust her hand out. He didn't quite know what to do, as handshakes weren't customary in the wizarding world. So he took it in his and shook hers. Her ring brushed his finger slightly, making chills erupt. He hadn't known that she married. Somehow the news still hadn't hit him entirely. "You are too kind." He whispered beneath his breath not knowing if he had actually wanted her to hear the phrase.
"I will be writing you within the week once the minister has appropriated funds and sanctions. The test cases will begin as soon as everything is in place. The paperwork I have left on your desk will need to be filled out and returned no later than Friday." She took her wand from beneath her hunter green and silver robes and transfigured her large bag into a small purse. He felt dead on his feet as he tried to cross the room to meet her at the door. If romance and love had escaped him, chivalry never would.
"Thank you for your help and support, Ms. Gran...Hopkins." He said, opening the door for her.
"It's as much as you deserve, Severus. I am taking the Departmental Head position in investigation of potions and wands services, so my owls will be coming from another post." He nodded at her promotion. " The paperwork can still be sent to my current office, but after that everything will need to be forwarded. Thank you for your patience." She stepped through the doorway swiftly, gone before he could reply.
"She must be a saint." He said again beneath his breath. He wondered how she could even speak with him as ghastly and horrid he had been to her that last time they had been in contact. When he began altering the potion, she had been his lab assistant working simultaneously with the ministry to create a more stable Wolfsbane. He remembered how flustered and uneasy she was at first. The look of hatred rarely escaped her eyes, yet over time, she began to admire him and his work. Potions had never been her best subject, yet she enjoyed the preciseness and art in which the potions were created. When it was obvious that the war had begun and his duties doubled, he had acquired her assistance two years after her graduation. The ministry had been reluctant to let her go as she had been developing a more efficient filing system (which was the most boring work she'd ever done), but his request was something they couldn't ignore. He wondered where they would be today if the events of the War hadn't tainted their budding whatever it was. He hadn't missed her at all until the very moment she walked in the door. Alone and empty, he returned to his desk and poured some hot tea into his cup. Nevertheless, this year was going to be filled with surprises and disappointments. Yet another year of self-loathing and desperation for the potions master.