A/N: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling.
"You're more like him than you know," Hermione said quietly, trying to sound nonchalant but really waiting for the invectives Professor Snape most definitely would spew in response.
"Excuse me?" He wheeled around to face her. Obviously he had thought he was alone in the room. He had stalked into the library at 12 Grimmauld Place after a rather loud argument with Lupin and Dumbledore downstairs, muttering curses under his breath about Harry being good for nothing and interrupting her quiet reverie.
"I said you are more alike than either one of you wants to admit," she laid the book she had been reading aside on the small table next to her. His eyes narrowed. His voice assumed a chilling silkiness like she had only heard once before, when he had confronted Sirius Black in the Shrieking Shack in her third year.
"Of all the impertinent, dim-witted, and repulsive notions," he stalked towards her, stopping in front of the chair she was sitting in.
"Not satisfied with being just an insufferable know-it-all, Miss Granger, but now you feel yourself qualified as a psychotrist as well. Or is it psychologist? I never know which word you silly muggles use," he practically spat down at her. Incensed, Hermione stood up from her chair, forcing him to take a step back.
"First of all, it's psychologist, not psychotrist. Second, I am a witch, not a muggle. Something you would do well to keep in mind if you want to keep from being hexed into next Tuesday. And finally, I'm sick and tired of both you and Harry going at each other, especially since you are supposed to be on the same side. If you would just get over yourselves and your intense hatred for each other you might realize that you are more alike than you thought," she huffed and then returned his glare with one of her own. He scowled down at her, and then abruptly took a seat in the chair across from hers.
"Oh please enlighten me," he said, derision dripping from every syllable as he motioned for her to retake her seat. "I would lie down, but it appears you have no couch available." She sat, deciding to ignore the sarcasm. She was still angry about the muggle comment but surprised that he hadn't left or cursed her...yet.
"Well...," she didn't really know where to begin. She had of course had this conversation with Harry regarding Snape, but she had never really pictured herself giving this talk in the reverse.
"I'm waiting, Miss Granger," he said impatiently, "Aren't you supposed to be telling me all the ways me and Mr. Potter are alike? I find that hard to believe really, since my hobbies do not include screwing up carefully laid Order plans, Quidditch, or reading about myself in the Daily Prophet."
"That's just it; you think that Harry likes the publicity that he gets, that he craves it. When really he would give his wand arm to be anything other than the 'Boy Who Lived.' Do you really think he likes being ogled at, people always staring at his forehead all the time? He's famous for something he can't even remember, for something his mother did to protect him," she explained.
"His exploits throughout the years speak to the contrary. His father arrogantly strutted around like he was better than everyone else, not subject to the same rules as the rest of us mere mortals, and so like father like son." Bitterness laced every barb and she noticed his fists had clenched when he mentioned James. He moved to stand up, "This is a pointless exercise, Miss Granger."
"No!" she exclaimed. A look of surprise came over his face at her forcefulness. She was rather surprised with it herself, but she had him here and she was going to take advantage of the opportunity afforded her.
"We're just now getting to the heart of the matter," she said as he sat back down.
"And that is what exactly?" A scowl replaced the initial surprise.
"Harry is not James," she said. "Harry looks like his father and you never gave him a chance to prove he was different. From day one you berated him, telling him, somewhat imperiously yourself, that 'clearly fame isn't everything.' James Potter was raised in a pureblood wizard family where he was loved and cherished and told he was worth something. As a stupid, immature teenager he translated that to mean that he was better than other people, but from what I understand he eventually overcame that misconception."
Snape opened his mouth to protest but she cut him off before he could start.
"Albeit not before making some enemies, but Harry was raised with Muggles who despised him. They told him everyday that he was a worthless freak who should be grateful to them for allowing him to sleep in the cupboard and wear their son's cast off clothes. He never had a kind word before he came to Hogwarts. He found true friends there."
She briefly wondered if she should mention that she knew that Snape's childhood was similarly unpleasant, but then decided against it. Harry had only told her recently what Occlumency lessons with Snape had been like and she didn't want to betray his confidence. Besides she had no idea how Snape would react, his wand hand was already twitching the more she talked.
"Pity his taste in friends is abysmal," he said pointedly, smirking at her. She felt the sting of his insult and decided to beat him at his own game.
"You're hardly one to talk, if I may say so Sir," she said boldly, "Death Eaters are not what I would call good company."
An indignant "Harrumph" was her only answer. She had won that point.
"Its only that he found friends like the Weasley's, Lupin, Dumbledore, and me that he has turned out the way he is," she continued.
"And how is that?" he asked snidely.
"Loyal, brave, and honorable. He's not arrogant. He realizes that he needs other people; he admits that he never would have survived any of his encounters with You Know Who if he hadn't had help. Granted, he's rash and he hardly ever thinks things through, but that's why he has me..." she smiled at this and then turned back to him seriously, "...and you."
"And here I always imagined that you held romantic feelings for Mr. Weasley," he commented, leaning back in his chair and surveying her, "I'm quite surprised to learn you carry a torch for Potter."
Her fists clenched, the knuckles whitening at his statement. She recognized that he felt the need to repay her for her earlier comment. This was a battle of wills, one that she was determined to win. She couldn't let his cutting remarks throw her off balance.
"I do not carry a torch for Harry, as you put it," she said, forcing her voice to remain level. "But I do shudder when I ponder what would have happened if he had been sorted into Slytherin like the Hat wanted. With friends like Malfoy, would we even be fighting this war? Or would it already be over, lost before it even started?" She stared at him, allowing the force of her words to wash over him. She watched as their meaning became clear.
"The hat wanted to put him into Slytherin?" he asked, unable to hide his incredulity.
"Yes, but he asked it not to," she explained, her voice softer now. "It is our choices that show us for who we truly are. If thoughts of power, glory, or fame appealed to him he would have been in Slytherin. He might have become arrogant, cruel, and perhaps someday when disappointment in the world settled in for good, embittered."
She glanced over at Snape. He sat with his hands still clutching the arms of the chair, evidence of his fight not to hex her, but the scowl had been replaced with a look of introspection. Hermione finally felt like she was getting somewhere. But as the minutes passed in silence, she became unsure of herself.
"Like me," he spoke finally. It was a statement not a question.
"I didn't mean...," she struggled to find the right words.
"Don't patronize me, Miss Granger. Not now, after having been so blunt," he said sharply. "I am not a kind man. I know that."
"You and Harry both have similar pasts. You've been mistreated, people whisper behind your backs, and then comes along someone who offers you an opportunity to get them all back if you would only join him. You accepted. Harry didn't." She stood up and moved closer to him, placing her hand over his. He looked up her, shocked at her touch, but neither pulling away.
"And both of you are loyal, brave, and honorable."
"I wouldn't call a spy loyal or honorable," he said morosely, looking away from her gaze, "maybe brave, but foolish is more fitting."
"I would, now that you are fighting for the right side. Though maybe in the future you could be a little more sympathetic of Harry's more rash decisions, having made some yourself in the past?"
"I wish I could say that decision long ago was rash, but the truth is I pondered it for several weeks before joining You Know Who's ranks. Everything I do is calculated...and cold."
"But you came back. You risk your life," she protested, giving his hand a squeeze. She didn't really like the man, but she held him in respect for what he did for the Order. He had saved their lives too many times for her to discount him, like Harry and Ron tried so hard to do.
"Only when I realized I was on the losing side. I don't like to lose, Miss Granger." He turned back to look at her.
"Neither do I," she declared. Hermione began to think that she had won this battle of wills. He had listened to her and had contemplated her words rather than dismissing her. And if he and Harry were to get along better, they had a better chance of winning this war as well.
The corners of his mouth quirked a bit and he moved his hand to grasp hers.
"Have you said these things to Potter?" he raised his eyebrow at her.
"Of course," she replied, "More than once I've had to stand up for you against his childish ranting." He smirked at this and she figured he liked hearing Harry diminished in his view.
"Though to be sure, I've only seen you and your childish ranting on occasion and this is the first time I've had the courage to say anything," she said, insuring that he didn't think Harry was the lesser person here. He let go of her hand.
"My childish ranting?" he asked, the sneer returning.
"Well there was the time in third year...," she started, but he held up his hand to stop her.
"That's enough, Miss Granger," he said, his voice reflecting the years of authority as a teacher. It was enough to make her stop, silently regarding him. Then she smiled at him, took up her book and settled back into her chair to read. He stood up, regarded her for a moment and then headed for the door. Stopping, his hand rested on the handle.
"Your future as a psychotrist is dim, you silly girl." The words were what she normally expected from Snape but they didn't hold the same disdain and contempt. The tone was somewhat changed. She knew this was the closest he would come to saying thank you, and she imagined there might be a small smile even if she couldn't see it.
"That's psychologist, Professor," she called after him.
"And you're welcome," she whispered after he had left. Only time would tell if her efforts had been worth the trouble.