Summary: When Hermione got held back in Potions one day she had no idea it would lead to an illicit and dangerous romance, with serious consequences. Follows HBP SSHG RWHG ADMM
Rating: T (PG-13)
Warnings: Teacher/Student pairing
Disclaimer: Hermione Granger and Severus Snape do not belong to me. Nor do any of the others.
One: Break of Dawn
The break of dawn kills all the beauty
The dead of night is drifting away
Should I stay and welcome the day
Or should I follow the one
And hide from the sun
- The Rasmus
It had been a bad day for Hermione.
Harry was gloomy and snappy, the result of a detention with Umbridge the night before. Hermione had overslept, run late for Transfiguration, lost five points from Gryffindor and remembered she'd left her Charms essay unfinished, losing another five points. She was in a bad mood as they finally reached the last lesson of the day: Potions.
It was a normal lesson. Snape swept round the dungeon, criticising everyone's attempts, except of course the Slytherins. Hermione couldn't help but pay more attention to this fact than usual, and when Snape Vanished Harry's hundredth potion, she found her voice.
"That's it!" She stood, ignoring Harry and Ron who were both gaping at her as if she'd grown another head. "Professor Snape, far be it for me to question a teacher's methods, but this is not on! If you stopped criticising and picking on select students and took the time to actually explain the instructions, perhaps there would be less failed potions and less accidents in your class!"
You could have heard, not a pin drop, but a battleship, so ominous was the silence that preceded her outburst. Even Snape looked shocked. Slowly he moved closer until they were almost nose to nose. Hermione swallowed, knowing she'd crossed the line.
"Detention, Miss Granger," he breathed quietly, although the whole class heard. "See me after class."
Hermione sank slowly back into her seat. At that point, Neville's cauldron exploded. Something of what Hermione had shouted seemed to have sunk in, because after clearing the mess Snape told Neville that the wormwood was supposed to be added while stirring, not before, albeit in an impatient voice.
"You're in for it now, Hermione," Ron muttered as he and the rest of the class gathered their things. "I'm surprised it was you who blew up at him and not Harry, considering how often he's been shouting recently – no offence, mate," he added quickly at Harry's look.
Hermione just nodded.
Snape shot her an odd look as the class cleared. Hermione remained seated, silent, feeling it was a good idea if she didn't try to speak in case she said something that made it worse. Once the class had cleared, the Slytherins gloating and the Gryffindors shooting her looks of sympathy, Snape shut the door and strode back towards his desk.
"You will serve three nights of detention with me, Miss Granger, starting tomorrow, and fifty points shall be taken from Gryffindor -"
"Professor, don't you have remedial potions with Harry on Friday?" Hermione asked sweetly.
Snape hesitated. "Tomorrow, Thursday and Monday then. Be here at half past eight sharp. Now get out of my sight." With that, he bent over the paperwork on his desk.
Hermione stood cautiously and gathered her things. She had definitely got off lightly. If Harry or Ron had blown up at him like that, they would have been in detention for the rest of the month. But now she thought about it, she had always been able to get away with slightly more than them. Maybe Snape only disliked her because she was a Gryffindor, but had a personal grudge against Harry? Whatever the reason, she decided it was better to scram before he changed his mind about going easy on her.
At the door, she paused. "Professor Snape?"
"What?" he snapped.
"You can't deny I have a point."
As Hermione reached for the doorknob, Snape said, so quietly that for a moment she thought she'd imagined it, "Leave the door closed."
She turned. "Why?"
"Miss Granger." There was an unreadable expression on his face, and a spark of something alien in his eyes. "I have taught you Potions for over four years and I know you are intelligent for your age."
"Um, thanks," Hermione muttered, thrown.
"That was a statement of fact, it was not a compliment."
"You should be intelligent enough to realise that my teaching methods do not revolve around my will. Miss Granger, you know my position, and who I work for. You should realise that to keep my position I do not have a lot of option but to play the part. Do you understand me?"
Hermione had to admit, she had never thought about it like that. She, like everyone else, had just thought Snape a bitter hateful git (as Ron would put it). But his words now made her wonder what sort of personality he really hid.
"All the same, Voldemort -"
"Don't say his name!"
"Fine, You-Know-Who, is not going to accuse you of betrayal because you gave a Gryffindor enough advice to make a passable potion."
"It is easier not to cross the line," Snape said coldly, "if one strays nowhere near it. Now go."
Hermione decided it was time she did.
Snape paused again. His expression was again unreadable. "This conversation never happened."
For once that evening, Hermione couldn't concentrate on her work. Her mind kept wandering back to her conversation with Snape. Cross-legged on her bed with a pile of homework spread out in front of her, she had retired to the dormitory to get away from the noise downstairs, where Fred and George had hung an enlarged copy of Harry's interview with Rita and everyone was coming up to them to ask about it. Gritting her teeth, Hermione flipped her books shut in irritation.
If a person was living a façade, then it was almost impossible to tell what they were really like underneath. For all she knew Snape could be a knitting, optimistic animal-lover, but she doubted it. No-one was that good an actor. Yet all the same, there could well be another side to him few had ever seen, and she had a feeling received got the tiniest hint of it this afternoon. He'd seemed almost … human … in his defence of his teaching methods to her.
That was a point. Why was he bothering to defend the way he worked, and to her of all people? Because she was smart? Perhaps, but she had a feeling there was more to it than that, and she was going to find out.
She wondered whether to tell Ron and Harry about her conversation with Snape, but decided against it. She should be acting as though it had never happened.
So why was the blasted man refusing to leave her thoughts?
Severus, meanwhile, was staring into the fire in his study, a glass of Firewhisky in his hand, wondering along similar lines. Why had he said all that to Granger? It wasn't like him. Thank Merlin it had been her – one thing Severus did know about the girl was that she was steadfastly loyal to her friends, which fortunately included the Boy-Who-Lived. Actually, if she hadn't been friends with him, it wouldn't have come out at all because she wouldn't have been involved with the Order and therefore would not know he was a spy.
He was more careful than that. If a Slytherin had overheard, he could be killed. Severus downed the rest of his glass and shuddered. There was another Death Eater meeting soon – he didn't know the day yet, or what they would be doing. He would soon.
Something had unsettled Severus and he wasn't quite sure what.
Just to clarify, I am taking into account HBP (in fact this isn't even AU), but not DH. There may be the odd tiny element but not deliberate.
AN:It is hard to write the beginnings of a romance between two well-built-up-already characters, especially ones that are supposed to hate each other, so cut me some slack, okay? This is my first time writing an SSHG romance. Or, at least, writing the beginning bit which sets up the characters – I do have two other fics in progress which will eventually be SSHG, but as neither plot revolve completely around the couple and neither fic has got that far in writing, I consider this my first. This fic has been nagging me for a few days and I have built the plot up well – I just need to focus on the first half rather than letting my thoughts stray to the more … exiting? angsty? mysterious? action-y? half. You'll see …