Disclaimor: I am definitely not JK Rowling. If I were, I would not have a lousy dial-up connection, nor would I be poor.

Best Left to Cupid

Chapter 1: The Git

It was a warm, slightly breezy, day, when Ron Weasley, having spent much too long on a Potions essay--an essay which resulted in many insults directed at the professor who assigned it--finally blurted; "Bloody hell, does the git always have to assign us essays? Unlike him, some of us have a life!"

Hermione gave him a stern look, her lips pursed slightly. "Ron, he isn't a git he simply appreciates it if we understand the complexities of the class he teaches."

"Yeah, him and half the other professors in this school. Honestly, do they have to assign us all so much work at the same bloody time?" he whined, staring down at the parchment that had inky, black words scribbled across it, most of it complete bullocks he'd pulled out of thin air.

Hermione glanced over the essay quickly, her lips pursing further as she neared the end of what he had written. "Well, that certainly isn't going to impress him, is it? Ron, did you even read the assigned text?"

"As if I don't have a million other things on my mind, Hermione," he grumbled, tossing his somewhat-shaggy red hair from his blue eyes. He folded his arms petulantly over his chest and leaned back against his chair, glaring at the essay as if it had verbally assaulted him.

"Yeah, we've got to practice Quidditch, not to mention how much homework our other professors have given us," Harry interjected, also working on Snape's essay, his dark eyebrows furrowed with concentration. "We've got loads to worry about, Hermione."

"Well, you'll just have to fit in more homework time in with your Quidditch schedule, won't you? Honestly, you two are lucky Professor Snape is even continuing to teach you. As I recall, neither of you got an O on your Potions OWL."

"As I recall, he wasn't too happy about it, either," Harry retaliated, turning a green glare towards Hermione.

"He was probably upset because McGonagall wouldn't let him carry on with Defence Against the Dark Arts."

"Can you blame her, Ron?" Harry pointed out darkly.

Ron shrugged, feeling a little uncomfortable as the subject of Dumbledore had been brought up. "I guess not. I'm surprised she even let him come back. I mean, it's not every day you re-hire teachers who kill off previous headmasters, is it?"

"That's uncalled for, both of you. After all he did in the war, you two could show a little sympathy. Especially you, Harry," she said, giving him a reproachful glare.

Harry scowled a little, then returned back to his essay. "He's still a git," he informed, although in a quieter tone.

"He saved your life," she reminded, leaning forward, her brown eyes pleading.

Harry was suddenly quiet, and he dipped his quill into his ink well, then continued to write his essay.

"Still, he doesn't have to assign us so much work. It's only the first week," Ron said, still glaring at the essay evilly.

"This is our seventh year. Obviously it's going to be tougher than normal. We have our NEWTs to look forward too."

Ron's head reeled slightly, as if struck by a brilliant idea. "Harry, wait, couldn't you get the Prince's book, and use it this year too? It would help loads." There was a moment of silence, where Harry looked upward thoughtfully, as if seriously considering the idea, and Hermione stayed silent. After a few moments, Ron turn to Hermione expectantly. "Aren't you going to tell us off for cheating?"

She turned towards him. "Of course not. It isn't cheating in his class, is it?" Ron blinked a few times, and Harry glanced at her. Well, she certainly did have a point there. "I don't see why you would need it, though. It's going to be the Prince's instructions up on the board in the first place. Honestly, Harry, why didn't you do so well the first five years you took his class?"

Seeing as he didn't have an answer to that, he decided to ignore her question, and answer Ron's instead. "Yeah, well, I think he'd notice me propping his book open on the worktable anyway. But it might help with these essays, though."

Hermione let out a small sigh, then stood up from beside them. "Well, I'd best be going."

"Oh, right, speak of the devil," Ron grumbled, scowling slightly. "Hermione, I don't see why you want to spend even more time with him than we already have to."

"Well, that's because some of us find that particular branch of magic fascinating. I don't complain about either of you wanting to be Aurors, do I?" Neither of them could prove her wrong, and so they remained quiet, and she smiled smugly. "Yes, well, I'll see the two of you later."

With that, she left the common room, with Ron staring after her, a small, soft smile on his face. His content expression did not go unnoticed by Harry. "You ever going to ask her out?" he asked finally, after leaving Ron to stare at the portrait wistfully for a few moments.

Ron shrugged, then looked away. "I don't know."

"Well you can't hold out for her forever. Having a girlfriend could cheer things up a bit," Harry pointed out, the scratching of his quill halting for a moment as he dipped it into ink some more.

"It's not having a girlfriend that I'm afraid of. What if she says no? What if I blew the whole thing 'cause of Lavender? I was so stupid," he muttered in regret.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know, Ron, she'd probably say yes anyway. Do what you like, though. I'm just saying it might cheer things up. I think you'd be a lot happier, too."

"Of course I would. No one likes being lonely. I just wish I hadn't been such a git." Harry didn't say anything to prove Ron wrong; he had been a git to Hermione last year, so there wasn't anything he could say, even if he had wanted to. "You think she'll forgive me?" Ron asked a bit tentatively.

Harry was busy trying to write his essay, and that made him a little bit irritated. To be honest, Harry wasn't exactly very gifted when it came to relationships. It wasn't like he had an amazing track record. Cho couldn't be alone with him longer than five minutes without bursting into tears, not to mention the whole Yule Ball fiasco with Parvati. And of course, the only real relationship he could have seen going anywhere was with Ginny, and he'd ended that. Whether or not he would be able to repair that, he didn't know. He sure hoped he could. But as for Hermione? Well, Harry had no idea as to whether she would forgive Ron or not. He didn't see why she wouldn't. Still, though, if he wanted to become an Auror, he was going to have to pass Snape's class, and he wasn't going to ruin that, being in his final year, despite the fact it seemed Snape was trying his hardest to make Harry fail his class with this one damn essay.

"Harry?" Ron urged, wanting an opinion to his question.

He tossed his quill down and turned to Ron, glaring at him. "I don't know, Ron, all right?" he snapped, his voice raised. Ron looked slightly taken aback at his tone.

Ron shifted uncomfortably for a moment. "You didn't need to shout," he grumbled petulantly, clearing his throat.

"Not to be rude or anything, but I'm just trying to get this essay done." Ron nodded and Harry turned back to his essay, letting out a sharp breath, picking up his quill, and looking over what he'd written.

He noticed Ron was trying to continue writing his essay as well, but Harry sensed the he kept giving him awkward glances, as if expecting him to say something else. Harry felt a bit guilty for snapping at his best friend, and he felt even more irritated when he saw how far he was from finishing his essay. "Why does Snape have to do this? I mean, eighteen inches? On the first week? I don't even have seven inches," he aired irritably.

"Yeah," Ron agreed, although a bit sullenly. "Maybe if he had a girlfriend, he wouldn't be such a git."

Harry let out a breathy, humourless laugh, nodding as he grimaced.

There was a moment of silence. Then:

"Ron, I've just had a spectacular idea."

Hermione stood in front of Professor's Snape's office, holding onto her piece of parchment, glancing over it to make sure that everything that had to be mentioned had be written in. She wasn't going to lie--she was quite nervous. The two of them hadn't even spoken to each other, not since the war. In fact, they had never really talked to begin with. It wasn't as if they have tea together every Tuesday. No, in fact, he had never shown her any reason for her to believe he even liked her somewhat. To him, she was nothing but a book-reciting, know-it-all Gryffindor who palled around with the Boy Who Lived Who Snape Obviously Hated. Of course, it made sense to her why he despised book verbatim now--he had, after all, written his own instructions in his text book; ones that (she regretted to admit) were better.

However, Hermione was not going to let him intimidate her. No, she was going to be brave. She was no coward--she had fought in the final battle after all. No, if anything, she had proven that. So, she was just going to take in a deep breath, go in there, and demand that he pay attention to her. She was going to show him she wasn't afraid of anybody, not even dour Potions professors who were slightly intimidating.

All right, very intimidating.

Brushing her bushy, curly hair out of her eyes, she took in a deep breath and knocked on the door, standing up straight.

"Enter," came his voice from within.

She held her chin high and walked into the classroom bravely. This was her chance. She was not afraid.

"Professor Snape," she greeted as she shut the door behind her, and started over to his desk.

He looked up at her, his black eyes appraising her, his thin mouth curled into a sneer. "Miss Granger," he greeted, sounding anything but enthusiastic or happy to see her.

"Professor, I was wondering if, perhaps, you were in need of a Potions assistant?" she asked, smiling briefly and politely at him.

"I have not yet had a need for one, nor will I ever. Good day, Miss Granger," he said plainly, dipping his quill into ink and marking what appeared to be first year essays.

She stood there, losing just a touch of her nerve. No, she thought, you must stand your ground. She hadn't expected anything different from him. It wasn't as though she thought he was going to welcome her with open arms. She glanced down at her parchment again. "Professor--" she started.

"Good day, Miss Granger," he repeated a bit more firmly, never removing his eyes from the essays he corrected.

"Professor, I would like very much to further my knowledge in the subject of Potions," she stated just as firmly, making sure to keep her back straight, her chin up, and her courage strong.

"And I am quite certain there are programs for that purpose that do not involve wasting my time." He still did not look up from his essays, and continued correcting them as if he had said nothing.

Hermione stood there, mouth working barely, no sound coming out. After a few second of her left completely speechless, she took in a deep breath. "Professor, I--"

He looked at her, his dark eyes glinting. "Are you incapable of following even the simplest of instructions? Perhaps I should make myself more clear. Get. Out."

"But, I have--"

"Did you not hear me?"

"Professor McGonagall says you have to," she finally blurted, knowing that she was not going to be able to convince him otherwise, although she had very much wanted to. She hadn't wanted to make him feel forced.

He glared at her, and she felt intimidated, despite her best efforts not to be.

"I have asked her, since she is the headmistress and my former head of house, if I could possibly be your assistant--if she would allow it. She agrees that it would be very helpful, and I promised her that I would not get behind on my studies, and I would not hinder you in any way, and that I was certain I could handle anything you asked of me, anything advanced, and she thought that it would be best for you to have extra help, after . . . the stress of the war."

She was aware of the fact he was glaring malevolently at her, as if she had just told him she'd killed his pet cat.

The parchment was magically ripped from her grasp when he flicked his wand. He took it from the air and read through it. McGonagall had explained the terms under which Hermione would work as his assistant, and that she was ordering him to allow her, claiming that he had no need to continue his reclusive behaviour, as he was no longer a spy, and therefore he no longer needed to worry about exposing himself. Hermione had not wanted to resort to that.

"You believe this?" he asked icily, lip up in a scowl. Hermione nodded--it made sense as to why McGonagall would want him to have an assistant. "How unbelievably naïve you are. She does not want you down here to keep me company, but because she does not trust me."

"Professor, if that were the case, she would have ordered me to become your assistant, and I asked specifically for--"

"Why would you want to be my assistant, Miss Granger?" he interrupted with a sneer. "There are programs specifically for the advancement of education after Hogwarts; those who would be ecstatic to have you; those who thrive on insufferable know-it-alls. Unless I am to believe you are purposely trying to monopolize my time and irritate me?"

"No, no, of course not, sir, I--I simply thought that if I had furthered my education before leaving Hogwarts, that I could move onto more advanced levels afterward sooner, and Professor, it would not hurt to have been taught by a war hero, and--"

"War hero?" he repeated, as if the word left a bad taste in his mouth. She nodded emphatically. It only seemed to infuriate him further. He thrust the parchment into her hand. "You are to go to Headmistress McGonagall and tell her you've changed your mind."

"No, I am not," she said firmly, although her palms were sweaty and her heart was beating rapidly in her chest. "I value my education and--and I have thought hard about this, and I want to be taught by you, sir."

He stared at her, incredulously, hardly daring to believe she had directly disobeyed him. She couldn't believe it herself, but she wanted this so badly, she would not back down from it.

After what seemed like a long while, he arched a dark eyebrow and scowled. "Very well, Miss Granger. You wish to be my assistant? Then you will return here Monday evening, at eight pm, sharp. I will not tolerate tardiness. If you are not there at the specified time you will personally tell Headmistress McGonagall that you are not worthy of such a task, do you understand?"

She nodded eagerly. "Of course, Professor, I will be on time."

"Leave," he ordered coldly, moving his eyes from her to the essays once more.

She, quite happily, obliged.

The whole way back to Gryffindor tower, she was breathless. She had no idea as to why she felt breathless, because she most certainly had not been intimidated; had most certainly not been frightened. All right, so perhaps she was a little.

It wasn't that he frightened her in the way Voldemort had, or Lucius had--no, she knew Professor Snape would never physically harm her. It wasn't the type of fear she got when having a wand pointed at her, a Death Eater bearing her down, shooting hexes. In that situation, she knew how to act. She knew she had to hex back--protect herself, as it were.

No, her fear of professor Snape came from her not knowing how to act around him. He could disarm her with his words a simply as he could with his spells. Hermione, who was told quite often she was the brightest witch of her age, simply could never find the words to prove it when around him. One would think that someone as clever as she was would have been able to think of stinging barbs to rival his, or at least an adequate persuasion so she wouldn't have to resort official parchments from the headmistress. Alas, she could not. No amount of books or cleverness could make her witty.

Of course, it wasn't that he insulted her constantly. She wasn't Harry Potter. No, but she could feel it in the way he looked at her, in the way he brushed past her, in the way he barely glanced at the potions she had brewed when he had first taught Potions, never saying a word simply because he could not find anything to criticize, or in the way he disregarded her raised hand with a sneer. Severus Snape did not like Hermione Granger, nor did he find her intelligent. No, he simply thought she was a dunderhead, despite her efforts to prove him wrong from her very first class with him. It wasn't that she cared about his opinion any more than any other of her professors' opinions--it was just that she hated failing, hated being seen as less-than-adequate when it came to intelligence, and it was all too apparent that according to him, she was.

And there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.

So why--why--had she insisted on being taught advanced material by Professor Snape by being his assistant? Why had she not waited until after Hogwarts and gone to the programs that even he had suggested to her? The answer to that was simple, as it relied on his obvious abhorrence of her.

If she had gone to anybody else, she would have gotten preferential treatment. That she knew. She got that sort of preferential treatment from all of her Professors--she had, ever since they'd come to realize what a bright witch she was. Of course, it probably didn't help that she was friends with the famous Harry Potter, either. Now, after the war, after everybody knew just how important she was in it, now that she was considered a war hero, she doubted that she would be favoured any less. No, of course, she would be treated better--and perhaps certain criticisms that were needed in order to perfect her ability, certain observations that may seem unkind, or harsh, may go unnoticed. Hermione knew the disastrous results of even the slightest mishap in brewing a potion--she had sat beside Neville Longbottom for five years, hadn't she?

But Professor Snape, who she knew would obviously not favour her, would not forget to point out these errors. Criticism was vital. It wasn't that Hermione wanted to have criticisms. No, criticisms meant she had fouled something up. But, if there was a need for a criticism, she would definitely want to hear it, so that she would not make that mistake again--or so that she could at least perfect it. There were a few times that a few of her other professors had forgot to point out a misplaced comma, and she had found it afterwards. But Professor Snape had never missed a single criticism on any of her assignments or otherwise.

In fact, she was positive it was his criticisms when he taught Defence Against the Dark Arts that had saved her. Of course, she had been a quick learner in that class, advancing further than anyone else. Had he not pointed out every single time she moved her wrist improperly, or she had put too much of a stress on the wrong syllable--

Well, she wasn't Harry Potter, was she? She didn't have the luck, nor strength, to be an amazing spell-warrior. No, she had books and cleverness, and knowledge, and memorization. Had he not pointed out her faults, she was sure that she would not be here.

So, technically, it was the reason that she was so intimidated by him that she'd insisted on being his assistant. Hopefully he wouldn't insult her too much, because if there was something she wasn't good at, it was witty comebacks. Answering questions were simple, because that meant she could study for hours on the appropriate response. Any question worth asking could be studied on beforehand, so that answer was already there. But an insult? One could not anticipate that, nor could one study what to say towards it. There were a few times when she'd been angry at her situation, of course, angry enough to react. She would not forget the time she slapped Draco Malfoy, nor would she soon forget sending those crazed birds after Ron. But those were not witty insults. No, that was simply the reaction of too much stress finally erupting in physical ways.

"Conniption," Hermione said to the Fat Lady.

The portrait opened, and there she saw Ron and Harry, heads bowed close together, conspiring about something, and she wondered if perhaps she could pretend to have not seen them since she knew that if they were planning on some rule breaking they would undoubtedly want her to join and she would, of course, deny. She was Head Girl, after all, and she expected better behaviour from her friends--considering Harry was Head Boy, not surprisingly. However, she wondered if Professor McGonagall had been in her right state of mind, appointing Harry as Head Boy, when he was also the Quidditch captain. Obviously that would make his schedule rather full. She went to move past them, act as if she had not seen them, hoping she had not seen her, when--

"Oi! Hermione!"

A/N--reviews are much appreciated. Constructive criticism is also appreciated.