Disclaimer: I don't own it. If I did then there would be some very traumatized little kids walking around….

The orange glow of the streetlight washed over her, highlighting her honey colored skin and casting a lonely shadow behind her as the heels of her boots clicked on the pavement causing an eerie reverberation to sound off the sides of the fishing boats and sea side shanties around her. She felt so alone. This is what she wanted though right? To be alone? Yes, this is what I wanted she thought while she violently wiped a tear from her eye before it could spill down her face.

I hate how vulnerable I feel right now. Its supposed to be my last summer before my seventh year at Hogwarts, but here I am in some stupid small town in the states completely isolated from my world, my friends, and the war. I feel so out of the loop. I am Hermione Granger, 1/3 of the god damned golden trio! This isn't fair! How will they fight without me? Hermione's hair whipped about her face when a salty breeze slipped around her to caress her clammy skin and bring her to sigh in relief and ultimately in resignation of her situation. She sat at the end of the expansive wooden pier and swung around to unzip the leather boots and release her long legs so she could dip her feet into the cool water. She didn't often wander unsupervised through the pre dawn streets, but so far from home the familiar stirring of isolation from her parents was strong enough to carry her out of their rental home and to the pier.

The garish neon had all but been extinguished at 3am and the crowds had thinned to the last few American sailors weaving themselves and their drunken women back to their hotel rooms for the night. Harry and Ron would like this place she thought, smiling at the thought of her best friends.

The soft swish of clothes and the swirling of the air behind her alerted her sometime ago to the presence of someone behind her; therefore she wasn't surprised when the pleasantly musky scent of a man's cologne reached her nostrils. She was however jolted at the familiarity of it that she couldn't place. She turned around and her jaw immediately dropped at the sight of the man before her.

"Professor?"

The man looked startled at being addressed with his formal title so far from the home where anyone knew him as such. He looked at the woman in front of him and his eyes widened with shock as he realized who was sitting before him.

"Miss Granger?" he stammered watching as she rose from the end of the pier and began to slip her boots back over her golden legs.

"What the hell are you doing here child, so far from your home and safety? The last news I heard from the school was that no one knew where you had gone, your family home was empty and there was no notice of you leaving".

Her relief of coming in contact with someone from her own world was so great that she barely paid attention to her flash of annoyance over being referred to as "child" or to the shock of actually being pleased to see the infamous greasy git of the dungeons. "My parents sir, they read about the dangers of the war from a Daily Prophet I left lying around and they took me here fearing for my safety. They don't understand what is at stake, and they don't want me to return to Hogwarts in the fall. I have had no way to contact anyone to tell them that my parents are demanding I sever all ties with our world. They even made me give my familiar Crookshanks away because I bought him in Diagon Alley".

Though Snape was startled by this new he didn't show it. His face was carefully schooled into features that feigned indifference. Though he did agree with the injustice of tearing the brightest witch of her age away from the world where she would no doubt make a difference, it was of little concern to him and he held no desire to become involved in her twisted life other then to alert the headmistress of her safety.

"Ms. Granger, surely you realize that at 17 years old you are considered legal age for us and may do as you please?"

"Yes, I understand that, but if I walk away from my parents now I can never go back to them, and I do fear for their safety during the war. I just can't leave and abandon them forever!" She spat while her voice began to take on that high pitched tone which signaled that she was precariously close to losing control of her emotions. Hermione Jane Granger did not lose control. Sure she had set canaries on Ronald last year after he shoved his relationship (if you can call it that. HA!) with Lavander in her face, but her temper was one thing, self pity was an arena she preferred not to enter.

"I see. Well seeing as you have been out of contact for about a month I suppose I have the honor of telling you that the war has come to a close. Precious Potter did indeed vanquish the Dark Lord to whatever hell he sprang forth from, the result being that though the losses for the side of the light were heavy, the wizarding world is now safe again. Most of the death eaters have been captured or killed though a few are still at large and wreaking havoc as much as they can in hiding. I must say, however grudgingly though, that without the research on Horcruxes that you procured for Potter before the final battle, the war would have been disastrous. In fact I do believe you have been awarded an Order of Merlin First Class that Potter and Weasley accepted in you honor." Snape finished this statement with something close to boredom in his voice. After all, it wouldn't do to tell her that he had been more then mildly annoyed that the bloody trio had their portraits hanging in the ministry. Not to mention the idea being rolled around to make "Golden trio day" a wizarding holiday. Eww.

"Wh- When did this happen professor"? She stammered completely disregarding the information about her receiving an award, though she did tuck away the fact that Harry and Ron were safe and felt a glow of pride in their abilities.

"Shortly after the school year ended Granger"

Though Hermione knew she should be thrilled at the news, and she was deep inside, she couldn't help but feel even more isolated and alone at that moment. Though she hated herself for being so selfish, she wanted to be there. She wanted to stand beside Harry and Ronald and watch as Voldemort fell at their feet ending the darkness that had begun encapsulating her world again 6 years ago. Her true world, not the world of dentistry and other silly muggle things that she once cherished as her reality. "I have to go back Professor I need to be with the people I love, with Harry and Ron, and the Weasleys. Please sir, come to my rental house and tell my parents the story, they will have to believe you and allow me to return to Scotland with you!"

"As charming as getting wrapped up in your life sounds" he sneered "I must decline your plea, which is of no consequence to me, and continue my long awaited vacation in what I thought was an entirely non magical, err go anonymous, town"

Hermione's face fell at his words and though disappointment began to show on her features it was quickly replaced by a look of sheer determination as she opened her mouth to argue " Professor though I understand your hatred for me may cloud your judgment between what is right and what is easy I must tell you that I am prepared to follow you around for the remainder of your so called vacation until I at least have your word that you will contact Professor McGonagall or someone from the Order and let them know of my predicament, and of my unwillingness to be in it. Unless of course you are here running from the accusations that you in fact murdered Dumbledore out of cold blood and not out of a previous oath with him and are not unwilling to help me, but unable?"

Though he was quite unwilling to admit it, even to himself, Severus Snape was impressed. It seemed that the quiet Gryffindor had found herself a backbone somewhere and was able to use it to stand up against the fearsome ex death eater façade he prided himself on. He also couldn't help but notice the lovely pink in her cheeks that arose from the argument and the fire that had burst in her eyes. "Miss Granger you forget yourself. You are speaking to a professor and one who holds the key to your freedom in his hands, if I could extend to you one piece of advice right now it would be to hold your tongue unless it is used to beg for my help. And incidentally I was cleared of any wrong doing by memories left to Minerva from Albus himself. Even Potter has set aside his arrogance to accept that I was acting only on the orders Dumbledore gave me. Though I fail to see how it is any business of yours."

"Well Professor" Hermione retorted with as much disdain dripping on his title as she could muster "seeing as how you are unwilling to help me AND you are the only one who knows I am here, unless of course you are hiding someone from the order in your cloak, then I must say that if you leave then any hope of me returning to Hogwarts in the fall goes with you. If that is the case then you are no longer my professor, so I shall call you Severus and I SHALL SPEAK TO YOU ANY DAMN WAY I PLEASE!" Hermione's eyes flashed and her cheeks flushed when she finished her rant as she glared at Snape daring him to argue again. This was not some silly little spat over a Saturday detention, this was her future and he would be sorely mistaken if he thought she would let his foul demeanor scare her out of trying everything possible to return her to the only world where she ever belonged.

It was then that Professor Snape did the one thing she did not expect.

"Alright Miss Granger" he acquiesced "I will not cut my vacation short to be your errand boy, though I will send a message to McGonagall and the Order to let them know of your location and your predicament." It wasn't 10 seconds after the sentence was out of his mouth that he found he was having the air squeezed out of him by a young Gryffindor who saw fit to thank him with a hug instead of with words. He wasn't at all sure he liked this very physical thank you, though he must admit that she carried a delightful scent of brown sugar and amber about her.

She released him from the hug and had the good grace to look somewhat embarrassed. Though she was sorry that she invaded his space, the feel of his strong lean muscles beneath his robes was not lost on her. She was however hesitant to admit it and resigned herself to forget that fact and concentrate on relaying the information to him for his letters. "I'm sorry Professor Snape sometimes my excitement runs away with me and I act before I think. Though this is not the manner in which I hoped you would carry out my wishes, I won't complain. I will however revel in winning a small battle and I will certainly accept whatever help you see fit to give me. "

"Follow me then Miss Granger and we will send these letters off immediately so I may continue on with my vacation without the annoying situation of you looming over my holiday." And with that he turned on his heel and led the way to his rental cottage to compose the letters. The walk was short and there was no conversation between the two until Snape heard a small gasp from the young witch walking behind him. Snape turned quickly drawing his wand and pushed Hermione behind him while he assumed a defensive posture. He was however puzzled when he saw no one around. "What was the meaning of that noise Granger? I thought someone had tried to attack you"! She was impressed by his reflexes, but she did find it a bit over the top and she began to giggle as she told him as much. "Professor number one, do not be so dramatic it was only a gasp, and number two I am just surprised. It seems that your vacation cottage is right next door to mine. See?" Snape turned slightly to follow the direction of her finger to the yellow cottage with peeling white shutters that sat not 30 feet from his own rental. It was then that he groaned loudly making it clear that though Miss Granger may find the situation humorous, he most certainly did not. He had assumed that traveling well outside of the country to the coast of Maine would ensure him some privacy for a little while, at least from anyone he knew.

"I change my mind Miss Granger; I have decided that it is in my best interest to deny you the right to use my familiar to send the letter unless you agree to one stipulation." Upon hearing this Hermione narrowed her eyes and placed her hands on her hips, preparing for another row. "Professor I hardly think that your proposition is appropriate, I know that it must have been lonely and terribly taxing to serve under two masters for so many years, but I must remind you that I am 17 and your student." Gaping at her with confusion for a moment his features then twisted into one of shock and perhaps a small amount of anger when it dawned on him that she though he was trying to proposition her. He cleared his throat before he answered with as much exasperation as he could muster. "Come on now Granger, surely you don't think I was trying to seduce a skinny know it all Gryffindor like yourself. My stipulation is much simpler then that. I ask that you leave me be. I know it will be tempting to grate on my last nerve since you are right next door, but I value my alone time immensely. When I hear back from the Order I will call on you."

He looked at her then and was pleased to note the very obvious blush that had taken over the honeyed skin of her neck and face. Snape was pleased that he had embarrassed her, he saw this as fitting retribution for her making him uncomfterable with her assumption of his need to secure sex through bartering. He watched her struggle to control her embarrassment with little success before she spoke again. "Of course Professor, I'm sorry. I will give you all the privacy you require. But please remember that if you would like to have dinner sometime or want some company you should feel free to call upon my family. I fully intend to tell my parents that facts you have relayed to me and I may let them know you're here based on the way they react to the news of the war ending. I will ask them to respect your privacy as well though."

By the end of their exchange he had removed the wards on the cottage and ushered her inside silently gathering the necessities of parchment, quills, and ink to begin the letters. She hunched over the kitchen counter writing to the Weasleys explaining everything while beside her Snape did the same for McGonagall. It was somewhat strange to be leaning over a counter in a cottage in Maine writing a letter with Snape so close she could feel the heat roll off his body and over her skin which was still flushed with embarrassment over the misunderstanding on her part earlier. Even through her excitement over stumbling across someone magical, Hermione was sensible enough to want to write the letter and leave Snape to do whatever it is he would fancy doing on a holiday in America.

Suddenly a vision of a very pale potions master building a castle in the sand on the coast popped in her head and she let a giggle escape her before she could stifle it. Upon hearing her feminine squeak Snape turned to her and raised an eyebrow. Hermione chose to ignore the question in his eyes and proceeded to seal the finished letter and hand it to him. "Here you go sir signed, sealed, and soon to be delivered, one damsel in distress letter". Snape took the letter from her, pretending not to notice when his fingers brushed against her palm. He definitely chose to pretend not to notice how soft and supple the skin of her palm was against his calloused digits and mentally shook himself for wondering how soft other parts of her were. After all, she had certainly hit the nail on the head with her earlier assessment of his sex life. No he didn't actually have to barter for sex, but her really didn't have time for it. A barely visible nod was all he gave in way of a response before he unceremoniously ushered her to the door.

"I expect that it shall take my Hawk almost a fortnight to deliver these and return with news. Do not try to bother me with the usual questions that seem to explode out of you. I will fetch you when I hear anything. Goodnight Miss Granger". He spoke with harshness in his voice, but without any real conviction behind it.

"Of course sir, thank you for your help" however minimal it may be, she thought "I look forward to hearing from you. Goodnight Professor." And with that she walked to her own cabin stumbling slightly in the sand and disappeared inside. Moments later a light appeared in the window upstairs and Snape, still on his porch watched the blackened silhouette of Hermione peel layers of clothing off her and grow smaller as she moved from the window.

Snape took a sharp breath and shook his head hoping the erotic visual would leave him be. So much for stone cold unfeeling bastard he thought one glimpse of Granger's naked shadow and I start to squirm. That coupling won't be happening anytime soon. Maybe around the same time Remus announces his love for sheep while dancing on the table with ladies knickers on his head.