The dungeon door opened to reveal the presence of a certain bushy-haired Gryffindor, looking decidedly nervous, clutching an envelope in her hand.
"Miss Granger." The black-robed figure of the Potions master rose from behind his desk. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?" The tone of his voice belied the civility of his words.
"I, um, just wanted to give you this." Hermione cautiously stepped forward and dropped the envelope on his desk, then retreated to a safer distance.
"And this is what, exactly?" Severus Snape enquired, with raised eyebrows.
"My application for an apprenticeship position after I complete my schooling in a couple of weeks, Sir."
He slid one long, thin finger under the flap and pulled out the piece of parchment.
"Miss Granger, I assure you I cannot fathom how this idea got into your head. Have you ever seen any other apprentices around Hogwarts?" he asked facetiously. "Apprentice teachers." He shuddered. "The very idea."
"Oh no, Professor Snape, I don't want to be a teacher. I want to be a Potions Master, like you, " Hermione said earnestly.
Snape looked slightly confused. He perused the document in front of him again. His face cleared.
"Ah, I think there has been a misunderstanding. Did you think I was a Potions Master, capital M?"
"Well, yes, Sir." It was the Gryffindor's turn to look confused now.
"Well I am not. I am the Potions master, lower case m, which simply indicates I am the teacher at this school who teaches Potions. Is that clear enough even for you, Miss Granger?"
"You mean you are not a renowned Potions expert with international recognition, a long list of published books, and an extensive research lab hidden in the dungeons?"
"Sorry to disappoint you," he smirked. "I didn't even want this particular job. When I applied for the Defense Against the Dark Arts job at the tender age of twenty-one, it was Dumbledore's idea to offer me the Potions position instead." He sighed. ""Defense Against the Dark Arts master, now that sounds much better."
"But, Sir, you are so good at brewing."
"Natural aptitude, Miss Granger, and sixteen years of experience teaching the subject. Now, is there anything else?"
Hermione looked crestfallen. "But Sir, if I can't apprentice with you, how are we going to be thrown together after I leave Hogwarts, so we can bicker and fall in love?"
"You are the clever witch, you think of something," he sneered, as he sat down behind the desk. "You are dismissed."
With furrowed brow, Hermione headed out the door, thinking hard. Half-way down the corridor, she stopped, her face brightening. "Pen pals. We could be pen pals..."
A/N: Just a drabble about one of my favorite fan fiction pet peeves, LOL! There are quite a few marvelous fics out there that employ the concept of Potions Mastery; if yours is one of them, don't be offended - pet peeves are generally not important except to the person who has them ;-)