Disclaimers: I do not own anything from the books of Harry Potter and I'm certainly not making any money from this story. Everything you might recognise belongs to J K Rowling, her editor and Warner Bros. (Though as far as I know, the plot, and some minor characters, are mine.)

Summary: One usually says that "bright minds think the same", but do they listen to their hearts – especially when the minds are as stubborn as those of Severus Snape and Hermione Granger?

Author's notes: I'm really sorry for the delay in posting. This chapter has been giving me quite a lot of grief. I'm still not completely happy about it so it will be interesting to hear what you have to say.

Anyway, thanks for all the follows and likes and reviews. It really means a great deal to find them in my inbox.

Bright Minds Think the Same

Chapter Forty Seven – An Unexpected Letter

Ginny set off after Hermione, but the older girl had already disappeared into her room. Luckily there was nothing but rudimentary wards in place and after a few well-placed spells, the red head could open the door.

Opening the door, Ginny ducked as a picture frame came flying through the air, crashing into the door where her head had just been, followed by a small china figure as Hermione cast furious spells at the objects on her mantel piece. Not to be discouraged, Ginny whipped out her own wand, making a large ball of water fall from the ceiling towards her friend's head. With reflexes still alert from a childhood spent at war, Hermione caught on before the first drop hit her and with another furious wave of her wand she stood in attack position as the water above her evaporated.

"Feeling better now?" Ginny asked casually as she slid her own wand back into her pocket.

"Oh Ginny, I'm so sorry. Did I hurt you?" Hermione cried as the smashed object fluttered through the air, mending themselves on their way towards their original places.

But the other girl simply laughed. "Fred and George, remember?"

"I'm still sorry. I know he's my friend, but he just makes me so frustrated at times." she sank down on the pristine bed. "Oh Ginny..." she sighed, "He's never going to accept my relationship with Severus, is he?"

Ginny sat down next to Hermione, giving her a quick hug with one arm. "Not even my hot-tempered brother can be that stupid. You're best friends."

"Sometimes I doubt that that will be enough."

"Well, it wouldn't hurt if Severus made an effort, you know. I meant what I said when I told Ron that he deserves our respect, but he doesn't really let anyone close and the boys will certainly not try by themselves."

"I know Severus is a large part of the problem," Hermione said, rubbing her temples, the day finally catching up with her, "but I'd prefer it if we could keep our relationship quiet until school is over. It might not be against the rules as such, but it will certainly create quite a ruckus and Severus changing his behaviour towards Ron and Harry will not go unnoticed."

"Exactly, so for now we'll just have to lay low and wait. An in the meantime we can prep all three boys so the shock will be as small as possible when the time comes. Come on, get that glum look off your face. I still have Harry's cloak you know, and if you're nice I might let you use it for a quick walk to clear your head." Giving her an all but subtle wink, Ginny continued, "I've heard that the dungeons are especially nice this time of the night."

Hermione giggled slightly. "As much as you were not supposed to, I'm really glad you found out. Thank you, Ginny. I don't quite know what I'd do without you." Hermione exclaimed, giving her friend a quick hug.

Ginny threw the cloak over Hermione's head, watching the older girl disappear, before opening the door. "Well, off with you then. I'll help you out through the portrait"

A walk through the deserted corridors later, Hermione pushed open the door to Severus' library. Finding the room dark and empty she continued out into the hallway and through the open door to the sitting room where she found him slumped on the couch, feet on a small cleared square on the coffee table and a glass of amber liquid in his hand.

"I know you're there. Didn't I tell you that it was too late for students to wander around alone?"

Pulling the cloak from her head, for a second making it seem as though her head was floating mid-air before she pulled the rest of the cloak off as well, Hermione replied, "Lucky I'm no longer a student then."

"Indeed..." Severus drawled before taking a sip from his glass. "Still, you shouldn't have risked it. Going away today was a big enough gamble as it was."

"I didn't think you should be alone tonight after everything we talked about today," She sat down close to him on the couch, making her way under his free arm as she put her feet up and snuggled against him. "Besides, I didn't want to be alone tonight."

He allowed himself to wrap his arm tighter around her and rest his chin and nose against the top of her head before he spoke again.

"Thank you, cara." he said in a low voice, pressing his lips against her hair.

Half past four the next morning, Mrs Norris looked around confusedly as her sharp ears picked up the sound of shoes against stone.

Seeing no one there, however, she sniffed disdainfully and took off in the other direction, deciding that the rug in front of the hearth in her human's room was much more tempting than chasing after invisible students.

A few hours later, Ron walked up to where Hermione and Harry were seated at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. He seemed to find his feet incredibly interesting as he ran a hand through his slightly too long mop of red hair.

"Hey, Hermione... I'm sorry if I upset you yesterday. I shouldn't have insulted the gi... Professor Snape like that. I just don't see why it's so important to you. It's not like he showed you and Ginny and respect when he gave you detention for no reason."

"He had a reason, Ron. He was right. We were unnecessary loud. We were in the library after all. Besides, I know Professor Snape isn't particularly kind to us, but sometimes you just have to be the change you want to see. Harry, you know how he's been treated. It's not like he's been met with much kindness either. Would you be nice to people, Ron, if they were barely civil to you? Don't you think he knows what the students call him behind his back?"

"Okay, okay... Look, I said I was sorry. If it makes you stop nagging me I won't call him names, alright? If nothing it will prove to you that it will make no difference to him. He just hates students. Makes you wonder why he didn't leave after Voldemort was defeated. Probably because he loves torturing innocent school children."

"Ronald Bilius Weasley!" Hermione snapped. "Behave yourself! Don't talk about things you know nothing about."

"And you do?"

"Of course I don't, but at least I try to! I don't dismiss people simply because of some misguided prejudice."

"Alright! I said I'm sorry." Ron said, holding both hands up in front of him in defeat. "Geez, you talk like you were in love with the guy or something."

"I just happen to think that the man who has saved our lives basically once a year since we started here deserves our respect." Hermione replied tersely. "Is there something wrong with that?"

"No," Ron replied, sitting down next to her and reaching for a piece of toast. "You're right as usual - Miss Know-it-all." he continued, making a silly face in her direction.

And just like that all three of them burst out laughing, causing several students to look up for their food.

Severus had watched their interaction from the Head table and though he had no way of hearing what they spoke about, the tension had been unmistakeable. He knew it would be a difficult time for Hermione when Potter and Weasley found out and while he was considering what he could do to make it smoother he knew his hands were tied at the moment.

Suddenly his musings were interrupted by the arrival of the post. To his surprise, a haughty looking albino eagle owl he hadn't seen in quite some time swooped down and landed on the table in front of him.

Feeding it a piece of toast from the basket next to him, he untied the parchment scroll tied to its leg. Clearly not expecting an answer, the owl took off again, leaving Severus to open his letter.

Dear friend,

It's been far too long. I hope the new year is treating you well. Mine, I must say, has been quite enlightening.

You see, my son returned for Christmas with a most interesting tale of how you treated him when he was having a discussion with the Head Girl on the train when the students were off for Christmas shopping. (The old goat really is going senile, isn't he, approving such excursions?)

And just the other day I happened to run into Iole Clayworth. She told me that she had met you a few months back escorting Miss Granger to the theatre.

What is this, old friend? Is Severus Snape screwing his little... student? Can it be true?

I can certainly understand the allure – if you can get over that rat's nest she calls hair she is really quite enticing – but to take her out in public like that. Really? You know better, Severus.

I don't care how many students you are bedding, but there's a reason it's called a dirty little secret. Make sure you keep it secret, dear friend. Don't embarrass yourself.

Yours etc.

L. Malfoy

Severus crumpled the letter in his hand before standing up, both hands clenched in fists on the table. With a wave of his wand, the chair flew back in place and he turned to stalk out of the Great Hall, black cloak billowing around him.

Author's Notes: Oh my… Lucius decided that he was feeling left out and wanted to join in. And Ron certainly needs to practise his apologies. Oh and if you've forgotten who Iole is, she appears in the second half of chapter 17 (The Globe).