Disclaimer: Not my characters they belong to JKR. Thank you for letting me borrow them.
THIS CHAPTER HAS BEEN REVISED
This is the first part of an AU drabble series starring SS/HG. (Complete in three chapters)
"Harry, I don't think I can take much more of this!" she said her head in the Floo. "I only have a few more days of my apprenticeship and this isn't the ending I envisioned. He's treating me worse than he did when we were in school."
Standing in the doorway of his office Snape stared at the girl's jean-clad bum eavesdropping on her conversation, his stomach tightening into knots at her words.
"I know it's only a few more days, but I just wish he'd go back to treating me the way he was before. Like I actually existed."
Hermione's shoulders drooped, and her bottom sank resting unhappily on her heels.
He fought the overwhelming urge to comfort her.
No. He wouldn't allow his feelings to interfere with his decision. He had to distance himself before she left. It would never do to let her know of his true feelings for her. Having her gone would be painful enough.
"I don't know what I did," she sighed. "About two weeks ago he changed, it's like he's furious with me. It makes me very sad; this isn't how I wanted things to end between us."
Her dejected tone confused him.
"I know, Harry, but he won't be my instructor for much longer. I had wanted us to be… Well, I had hoped we could be… friends," she said, sounding wistful.
She laughed suddenly, a throaty chuckle that made his chest tighten and his spine stiffen.
Enough of this nonsense, he thought.
But before he could so much as clear his throat, she continued, "I am not 'mooning' over him, Harry. I respect him, and yes, I do like him."
He frowned at the witch in front of him. As the words sunk in, he gulped.
Had he heard her correctly?
"I guess I read more into his actions than I should have. I just… well, I thought he sort of fancied me." Her small giggle made him scowl. "Come on, Harry, of course he can fancy someone, after all he is a man."
Indeed. That he was.
He gulped again.
"Look I'd better go. He's usually in the lab by now." Another giggle. "Don't worry, I'll be fine. It's not like I haven't dealt with worse."
At this, he began to ease his way to the door, a plan formulating in his mind.
"Of course I'm packed. See you soon!"
He watched as she jumped back—nearly hitting her head on the brick—and stumbled to her feet.
"Master Snape." She tensed at the sight of him, and her hands flew to her head attempting to tie her hair into a bun.
He watched as her long fingers deftly twisted and clipped her unruly curls. As she tamed her hair the angle of her arms caused her chest to come forward enticingly, the thin material of her t-shirt doing nothing to conceal her nipples hardened by the cool dungeon air.
Glancing up at her face his control almost shattered.
"Master Snape?" she questioned. "Is everything all right?"
He gulped again. What had she done to him? Gulping like a school boy, how undignified.
"I was just… Flooing Harry. He'll be helping me move my things," she said awkwardly, trying to fill the silence.
"Are you in such a rush to finish, Ms Granger?" he retorted caustically. "I believe you to be overconfident in your abilities if you just assume you will pass your final practical. Perhaps I should test you now, and then you may leave immediately."
He raised a disdainful eyebrow and sneered. "That is, if you pass."
She gaped up at him for a moment before steely determination replaced the look of confusion and hurt. Lifting her head proudly, she turned on her heels and stormed off to the lab.
He had no choice but to follow in her wake.
She was standing, eyes closed, and taking deep calming breaths when he entered.
He stared at her longingly, hoping it wasn't for the last time.
If his plan worked she'd no longer be his apprentice by afternoon. If his plan worked his feelings would no longer be secret.
Renewing his resolve, he set her to her task.
The hands of his watch crept slowly around the dial as he watched Hermione expertly prepare the difficult potion.
He had chosen Veritaserum for a multitude of reasons.
It certainly wasn't the most difficult potion academically, but it was particular. One had to read the mixture and improvise accordingly. The ingredients would react differently depending on the brewer's intent.
He knew Hermione relied on her intellect but not always her intuition, and that was a vital component in the difference between a mere potions brewer, and that of a master.
The other reasons had to do with his own cowardice.
He began to perspire as she funneled the crystal-clear liquid into the dosage vials that he had set out. The brew should produce exactly fifteen individual doses of Veritaserum, no more and no less.
She placed the small corks in each phial, and his hands began to tremble slightly.
Would she ask the right questions of him? Would she dare to be that personal? Would he be brave enough to be forthcoming if she didn't?
She finished dripping the sealing wax over eleven of the vials. Twelve. Thirteen.
It was now or never.
"Ms Granger, leave one dose unsealed."
Hermione's head shot up. Her eyes narrowed defiantly, glaring at him.
He didn't bother to suppress his chuckle. "Don't worry, Ms Granger. I will not be testing it on you. Now bring me the last vial."
The room grew smaller as she approached his desk.
When she handed him the truth serum and her fingers grazed his, he tried to resist gulping—he failed miserably.
He uncorked the flask, sniffing as he held it to his nose. "No perceptible odor."
He twisted it between his thumb and forefinger. "No apparent sediment.
"All that remains is for it to be tested."