Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and I am not profiting in any way by writing this fanfiction.

Hermione's hair was what nice people would call 'uncooperative' and less charitable people would call 'a haystack,' but which she referred to, with both humor and adolescent despair, as 'intractable.' It refused to go up for special occasions, wouldn't lay flat without a plethora of charms, and tangled itself into happy knots when left to its own devices. It was a blanket on some days and a noose on others. If she wanted it to flow, it frizzed. If she tried to curl it up, it refused to hold the shape, sometimes forming new shapes of its own. It was stubborn, awkward, irritating, and Hermione loved it dearly.

Like her affection for the bow-legged, finicky cat she had adopted in her third year, Hermione's love for her hair was fierce and unalterable. Even when she raged at the tangled morass, there was always affection beneath the pain. Suggestions that she should cut it were met with stony, offended silence. Compliments brought on blushes and shy smiles. Insults, on the other hand, invoked the wrath of a bookworm. Let it never be said that Hermione Granger was sensitive about her hair. She was in fact, sensitive to her hair. Like a thing alive, when it was threatened it would puff up like a cloud. Snarling, her hair, that is, and crackling with static electricity, Hermione would descend on the unfortunate to wreak her vengeance in the name of duty, honor, and wounded feminine dignity.

A bookworm knows all the hexes and the unfortunate recipient of said knowledge often spent a good deal of the next day recovering. Luckily, Hermione was also merciful and would usually allow them to copy her notes when she, and her hair, had calmed down. Because of this extraordinary sensitivity, indeed affinity, Hermione felt with her disobliging tresses, she found it easy to empathize with her Potions Professor. By easy, she meant of course that the idea did not make her want to retch. His hair was the polar opposite of hers, but they both had legendary reputations. She had noticed that, similar to her own, his reacted to his moods and outside threats. It was subtle, but obvious once you knew what to look for.

When he overheard someone whisper the word 'greasy,' it rippled with anger. When he read essays, slopping blood-red ink in angry slashes over the parchments, it stroked his cheeks soothingly. When he was happy, and that wasn't often, it swung back and forth as he walked and fairly shone in the candlelight. When he was angry, it hovered over his eyes, shielding him from view, or darkened to an oily black in an effort to express equal ire. After awhile, it began to fascinate Hermione to an unreasonable extent. She found herself staring at it in class, after her work was completed, of course. She thought about it at night. She studied about it during her free periods. She looked for books about it during her outings to Hogsmeade. There were actually a few articles that touched briefly on the concept of one's hair reflecting one's personality, though they were largely discounted among the general populous. His hair, not to mention her own, became something of an obsession. Several times she even found herself dreaming about it, endlessly combing her fingers through the dark curtain as he looked at her with a peculiar expression on his face. She never remembered the rest of the dream, but no doubt it involved a lot of combing and brushing.

It wasn't until her seventh year that she got a real opportunity to study it up-close and personal. She began the by-now traditional round of extra-curricular assignments with an animagus course with Professor McGonagall. It was a realm of study she had always been interested in, but hadn't had the time to give her full attention to. She had found it almost unbearably easy, which had irritated her transfigurations professor a great deal. So much, in fact, that she had gone to Snape, insisting he allow Hermione to complete an assignment with him as she wasn't finding Transfiguration challenging enough. He had agreed reluctantly, which meant McGonagall had threatened him with various unmentionable hexes and probably physical castration as well. McGonagall was predictable like that.

Hermione reported to Professor Snape's classroom to begin her study on advanced shape-changing potions. Later she would blame her actions on a vast number of things. She was bored after the war ended and utterly without the distraction of continual preparation for the Final Battle. There was nothing important to concentrate on, having already prepared well in advance for her Newts, being six weeks ahead in all of her classes, and being possessed of no boyfriend. But at the moment, all she was thinking was that this was likely to be her only opportunity. He was reading a book, utterly engrossed in the topic at hand. She tested his awareness by using a quick spell to clean out the cauldron she was supposed to be scrubbing by hand; there was no foolish wand-waving in Snape's class, advanced study or not! The fact that he didn't even twitch was a good sign. She moved cautiously towards him, careful not to let her eyes linger on her target for too long. Silent as a cat, she stole up behind him and reached out towards his shining, black hair.

"I wouldn't, if I were you," he drawled, not even glancing back at her. Hermione cursed, and then walked back around to stand in front of his desk. "I'm not asking to actually study you; I just wanted to touch it." Frankly, she was surprised he wasn't angrier, though if he'd seen it coming he'd probably had time to repress any obvious manifestations of rage.

"Absolutely not," he replied, finally glancing up from the pages.

"I'll give you five sickles," she offered, her hair puffing out hopefully.

His hair rippled in response, generally meaning he was amused- or about to kill someone. She considered both reactions and decided they were equally unlikely, though she was leaning towards the latter. "You cannot bribe me, Miss Granger."

"I find that very hard to believe."

He smirked and again, his hair seemed to shine at her. "Very well then, you cannot bribe me with money."

Hermione shrugged. "Then tell me what you do want."

Snape leaned forward, his hair slipping over his shoulders to add silent support to the intimidating picture. "Something very simple, but which you are in a uniquely qualified position to supply." He gave her a very intense look before warding the room against sound and locking the door.

Hermione stood up nervously at the Graduation ceremony, feeling her palms starting to sweat. She had never really been one for public speaking and she knew that almost no one was going to like what she had to say... well, except Professor Snape, of course. Hermione cleared her throat, looking out over the assembled parents, teachers, and graduates, and began.

"Parents, teachers, and friends, it is with great honor that I present this, the Annual Head Girl's Award for Professional Excellence to a teacher who has done so much for me and my friends over the course of our stay here. He is rarely appreciated for the hard work and dedication he exhibits everyday. His inhuman patience with my endless questions is remarkable, to say the least. He is a brilliant man, an incredible scholar, and an amazing duelist. Without his contributions, many of us wouldn't be alive today. Professor Flitiwick, will you please accept this token of my gratitude?"

Professor Flitwick looked so shocked that he nearly fell off his chair. Hermione momentarily feared for his heart condition. Smiling and trembling he made his way up to the stage to take the trophy from Hermione, thanking her profusely and beaming at everyone. Professor McGonagall and Professor Vector graciously congratulated him as if they were not disappointed and completely surprised by this turn of events. Flitwick had never received the award before, which seemed odd, considering the number of Head Girls that had come from his house in the past. Hermione shook her Professor's hand and then quietly returned to her seat. She waited for the furor to die down to a respectable din, then slipped outside before anyone could ask why she had decided on Flitwick for the honor when there were many more obvious choices. She'd long since come up with a clever story of course, but questions would take time and she had somewhere to be.

She jumped when a hand reached out of an apparently empty classroom and yanked her inside. "What?"

"Shh," Snape said harshly, glancing both ways down the hall before closing and warding the door.

"Okay, I did what you wanted; though why you wanted it I cannot understand," Hermione said, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Elementary, Miss Granger," Severus replied offhandedly. "I'm evening the karmic playing field. When you blast a man in the back so you can join a pack of Death Eaters in a raid against schoolchildren, you have to pay for it eventually, one way or another. I prefer to do it my own way."

"How can someone as nasty as you are be concerned with Karma? You've the rudest person I know!" Hermione exclaimed, evincing incredulous disbelief with every twitch of her eyebrows.

"And you don't think saving the entire wizarding world, and portions of the muggle one, evened the score?" She was silent, and he smirked. "Now, let's get this over with."

Argument forgotten, Hermione nodded eagerly. "Finally," she said, reaching for him.

"One moment, I have ground rules," Snape said fending her off with a graceful gesture. "You may only touch it once, you may touch no other part of my body, and you may use only your hands."

"Agreed," Hermione said impatiently.

"Very well." Snape squared his shoulders, then carefully took a seat behind the nearby desk. "Whenever you are ready, Miss Granger." Trembling with anticipation, Hermione reached out with both hands and pressed her fingers into his hair.

She wasn't sure exactly what she was expecting. Perhaps she'd wanted some kind of magical spark between them, maybe an epiphany regarding her research. Then again, she might have subconsciously been hoping that it would disgust her and she could finally get him out of her hair... er, head. What she found was a kind of dreamy contentment.

She liked touching him. His hair was soft and cool. It coiled around her fingers, caressing her from fingertip to knuckle. Pressing lightly, she very slowly raked her nails along his scalp, all the way to the back of his neck. He gasped softly, and Hermione pulled her gaze from his midnight hair to look at his face. His eyes were closed, his lashes fluttered, and he was trembling slightly. She had never seen anything more stimulating than Severus Snape at that moment. His head was thrown back slightly, and she let her fingers comb back down through his hair until they were free, though inky strands still clung like a lover to her fingers.

Hermione took a deep breath, reminded herself that this was for science and not because she was deriving any personal satisfaction, and then repeated the process with even more care. Severus was beginning to breathe heavily, and she thought any minute now he would snap out of this trance-like state to stop her. This was definitely more than one touch. This was turning into several touches. In fact...

One hand still tangled in his hair, she began to run a fingertip over his ear. Upon receiving no immediate harsh rebuke, she touched his jaw, slid her palm over his cheek, and eventually wound up stroking his lips with her thumb. She couldn't really remember the rules at this point, but she was pretty sure she'd broken all of them. She was just wondering if it would be worth it until long, seeking fingers inserted themselves into her own tresses and began stroking ever so softly against her skull.

"Oh God," she gasped, eyes practically rolling up in her head. The infinitesimal amount of consciousness she still possessed was dreamily running a single thought on repeat through her mind: So this was what it was like to have an orgasm.

"Miss Granger," Severus' throaty baritone purred into her ear. "That's two rules you've broken. You're hardly living up to your usual high standards." Hermione blinked at him with honest incomprehension. How had she wound up in his lap? "I'd have expected you to get them all."

There was a pause while Hermione processed this. Following that, she would have smiled at him if she hadn't been so busy fending his lips off with her mouth. His hands twined in her crackling, clearly excited locks and held her head in place as he ravaged her mouth. She was moaning and pressing herself against him in what was simply not a school-appropriate manner. All the while she refused to relinquish her fistful of his slippery, equally excited mane.

They finally surfaced some ten minutes later, mostly because Severus' circulation was being threatened due to the exuberant curling her hair had managed in its enthusiasm. Hermione carefully freed him while they both struggled not to make eye contact. When he was untangled, Hermione shifted awkwardly on his lap. She just realized what was pressing against her when Severus began to blush. His hair seemed to stiffen, as though equally mortified. Distraction was definitely the way to go.

"Well, I'm definitely seeing the karma thing you were talking about," Hermione said, smiling smugly while playing with the ends of his hair.

He frowned. "I should be pretty even right now, so no rewards or punishments on the horizon for a good long time."

"Who said it was yours?" she asked playfully. "I've been a very good girl. I always do my homework. I say please and thank you. I save the world on the weekends."

"I guess you should have some sort of reward then," Severus said thoughtfully, looking as honestly puzzled and completely out of bat-character as she'd ever seen him. "I wonder what it could be."

"Indeed," Hermione said, eyes glowing. "Witness my confusion." She proceeded to kiss him rather thoroughly.

Despite his preoccupation, Snape managed to mutter one last complaint around her extremely skilled lips. "Bloody Karma."