Disclaimer: This is a non-profit tribute to the works of JK Rowling who created and, together with her publishers and licensees, owns the characters and settings elaborated herein.

A/N: Spoilers, knowledge to OotP assumed.

Hermione hesitated outside the office, her hand poised to knock. Why was she doing this? After today, she'd be gone and never have to see him again. Who cared what he thought of her?

She did. For seven years she'd done everything she could think of to gain his respect without ever receiving so much as one "Well done" on a perfect essay, one look of approval for a faultless potion. She'd wanted, she'd needed that validation, the final proof that she belonged in this world as much as any Pure Blood.

Only recently, while reminiscing with Harry and Ron, had it occurred to her that she might have given him reason for his steely dislike. So here she was, one last throw of the dice, one last attempt to break through to him.

Two firm knocks brought a curt response.


He was bent over his desk, writing reports. He glanced up, his eyes narrowing at sight of her.

"Professor Snape," she cut in before he could send her away, "May I talk to you sir?"

He frowned.

"Can't it wait?"

"But Professor!" she begged. "The coaches are leaving in an hour."

"Whatever you wish to say has waited this long. As far as I'm concerned, it may wait forever."

"Please Professor, I – I want to apologise."

He had already turned back to the parchment in front of him, but at that he shot her a considering look. Then he put down his quill, pushed the parchments aside and straightened himself in his chair, watching her the way an anteater watches an ant's nest.

"Very well. Sit. Enumerate."

She obeyed the first command immediately, the second with much hesitation.

"In first year, at the Quidditch match," she muttered, "When you were counter-spelling Professor Quirrell's hex – I saw your lips moving and – and you never took your eyes off him and – Well, I thought it was you controlling the broom, I'm sorry sir. It was me who set you on fire."

His expression didn't change. There wasn't even a flash of the eyes.

"You ruined my outer robe," he remarked. "It cost 15 Galleons to replace."

"I'm really sorry," she assured him. "Didn't it hurt you, sir?"

"I suffered no permanent damage."

She gulped. This wasn't going over well, but she'd have to continue now till the end.

"In second year, I took some supplies from your office."

Her hands clasped and unclasped, twisted and squeezed. He nodded, the only sign that he was listening.

"Yes, 3 ounces of boomslang skin, 4 ¼ of bicorn horns. At current prices, the replacement cost is 69 Galleons and 5 Sickles."

Eyes widening in alarm, she squeaked, "I had no idea they were so expensive!"

He raised his eyebrows.

"Stealing is stealing, Miss Granger, whether you take 69 Galleons or 69 Knuts."

She flushed and bit her lip.

"Yes, sir. I'll write you a draft on Gringotts immediately." That would almost clean out her account and how would she explain to her parents? She'd have to take that holiday job after all instead of spending the wait for her results exploring the British Library.

"Do I add the Gillyweed from fourth year to your tally or was that some other criminal?" he sneered.

"Criminal?" she shrilled indignantly when she got her breath back.

His coal-black eyes flickered slowly over her, from her restless hands to her bitten lip, without ever reaching her eyes.

"You have already admitted to an unprovoked assault and to thieving. I believe the word is justified."

"But I'm going to pay you back now! And, no, I didn't take any Gillyweed!" She fumbled in her pocket and found a small roll of parchment and an Inkless Quill. With shaking hands she wrote him a draft for 84 Galleons and 5 Sickles, signed it and thumped it down on the desk in front of him. He made no move to take it or even to look at it.

"Are you expecting me to be grateful that you're finally planning to make restitution five and a half years later? I will take no punitive action against you. I won't even charge you for the inconvenience and labour of replacing the ingredients at what was an exceedingly awkward time," he told her with bitter emphasis. With an unknown killer loose in the school, he had grudged every second away from his responsibilities of patrolling the corridors and protecting the students. "And that is a much more lenient response than you deserve."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," she muttered in a chastened tone.

"Will that be all?"

His hand was already reaching out for his quill, but he let it fall at her headshake.

"You can't have forgotten that in third year I – I hexed you in the Shrieking Shack. You were knocked out."

His thin lips tightened and his voice dropped to a dangerous whisper.

"You were under a Confundus Spell, I believe."

How she wanted to agree! But that would have been a lie.

"N-no. No, I wasn't."

His voice deepened even further.

"Indeed. So your decision to turn a spell I'd taught you against myself, your protector, rather than against the escaped convict holding you prisoner and his werewolf accomplice, was a product of your rational mind, was it?"

The bite in his voice had her rearing up in self-defense, her bushy hair flying.

"I said I was sorry!" She'd bet he didn't get apologies very often. He should appreciate the few he received.

He raised an eyebrow.

"As a matter of fact you didn't, but let us take it as said."

"I apologise for everything I've ever done against you," she flung at him.

"I accept your apology, limited as it is, and wish you Good Day."

Quill once more in hand, he bent back to his reports, dismissing her. She wasn't finished yet.

"Limited?" she repeated disbelievingly. "I said everything!"

Long fingers tapped the quill's point on the desk.

"I've always deplored your misguided attempt at cramming your head so full of information as to leave no room for reflection, Miss Granger."

Reflection, thinking – Oh.

"You want me to apologise for what I thought, for suspecting you unjustly? And for anything I might have said too?"

"I've never desired anything from you but your absence!" he snapped. "Whether or not you apologise is a matter of complete indifference to me."

Fists clenched, she glared at him, determined to leave no word unsaid.

"I'm apologising anyway. I'm sorry for everything I've ever thought or said or done against you. I'm sorry for any inconvenience or damage I may have caused you. Is that everything now?"

"Should it be?" he sneered.

Her scowl melted into uncertainty. Jeez, what did it take? A grovel on bended knee?

"I don't understand you."

"Ah, you've finally realised that after seven years. What a day of discoveries."

He was always wrong-footing her. She wanted to wipe that sour smirk off his disagreeable face, but she didn't know how. She found herself voicing the accusation in her heart that she'd never intended to raise with him.

"You've always disliked me."

He leaned back in his chair, fiddling with his quill.

"I don't make a practice of disliking any of my students, if by that you mean that I wish them ill. Nor do I like any of them, at any rate not in the sense of wishing for their company. If you have no more to say I suggest you leave."

He hadn't asked for her company, his eyes said. She lifted her chin.

"I will leave after you explain what else I should be apologising for."

"Are you trying to frighten me into submission, Miss Granger? The prospect of your continued company, however unwelcome, is hardly likely to break my spirit," he mocked.

She turned the full force of her reproachful brown eyes on him. He met her gaze without moving a muscle.

"Please, I'm trying to make amends," she pleaded.

Dark eyes skewered her with sudden intensity.

"Am I the only recipient of your apologies? Have you requested an interview with Draco Malfoy or with Crabbe and Goyle? I believe you hexed them more than once."

"But they're Death Eaters!"

"They weren't when you hexed them. Indeed, who knows how differently they may have turned out had you all treated them otherwise? Regardless, what of Filch? Have you apologised to him?"

"I hadn't thought about it. I did far worse to you than I ever did to him." Surely the most she could ever have caused the Squib caretaker was minor annoyance.

"But that's not the reason, is it? I'm a hero in this war, so I merit an apology. He isn't, so he doesn't." His voice sharpened as her eyes fell. "Perhaps you should ask yourself why you thought it didn't matter how you treated people who were ugly or unpleasant. Why it is only the good or the Gryffindor you deem worthy of your consideration."

As his meaning penetrated, her jaw dropped.

"That's what this is all about? You're saying I'm prejudiced?" she exclaimed.

"Do you deny it?"

Hands moving to hips, she leaned forward and spat, "You're hardly the one to complain about prejudice! The way you've treated us all these years, just for being Gryffindor!"

"It's my job to mould you into responsible and productive adults and to keep you safe in the process," he told her. "Everything I've ever done or said to you has been intended for your benefit."

"What about what you've done and said to Neville and Harry?" she snorted.

"Miss Granger, I will indulge your curiosity regarding my treatment of you, but I concede no right on your part to inquire into my treatment of any other student. If they have questions, let them raise them themselves."

His bored voice inflamed her further.

"You honestly believe you've never done anything to apologise for?" Her voice went high and squeaky. "What about the time you humiliated me in front of everyone when you said there was no difference between my normal teeth and the beaver teeth Malfoy hexed me with?"

One long, pale finger rubbed the large, hooked nose as his other hand continued toying with the quill.

"Was that comment so much worse than anything else I've ever said that you single it out?" he asked, just as she'd decided he wasn't going to bother to respond. "I sent Goyle to the hospital wing and I saw no difference in the appropriate course of action for yourself. Two disfiguring but minor hexes, what difference should I have seen?"

"That wasn't what you meant. You meant that my normal teeth were just as ugly."

"Of course, you must have a better understanding of what I meant than I did. I beg your pardon."

The words were apologetic. The tone most emphatically was not. Her eyes prickled with angry tears, but she blinked them away. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of making her cry again. Nevertheless, her voice wobbled as she spoke.

"You hurt my feelings. You made everyone laugh at me."

There was another long silence as he frowned down at her clenched hands.

"In your study of Herbology, you must have noticed that some plants require vigorous pruning to encourage their growth. It's the same with students."

She jumped up and bent forward over the desk, searching his face for any sign of regret. There was none.

"You're wrong! You know you were wrong!" She turned and marched out of the room, pausing at the door for an unfond farewell. "I hope I never see you again!"

"The feeling is entirely mutual. Do close the door quietly as you leave."

She closed it with exaggerated care. He stared after her for some minutes.

He remembered that incident all too well. It was the only rebuke he'd given her that had been prompted not by her own needy, greedy behaviour but by his own temper and habit of squelching her. He'd spoken to wound and had evidently succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Perhaps he should have apologised. She was one of the most irritating students he'd ever taught – if taught was the right word. He couldn't flatter himself he'd ever given her much potions knowledge, she'd taught herself too effectively before even entering his classroom. Nevertheless, she had at least the grace to appreciate his efforts.

Yes, probably he should have capped her apologies with one of his own, but she had demanded both his forgiveness and his contrition with such an air of entitlement he'd been too irked to oblige. Why did she always affect him like that?

He sighed and reached for the reports she had interrupted.

"Goodbye, Miss Granger," he muttered. "Good luck."


A/N This story was written before HBP so it is only canon-compatible to OotP. The quoted price for the stolen ingredients and damaged robe is not canon.