Have decided that the last chapter was a bit too chummy, so I'm gonna kick it up a notch with the tension/angst/lust factor. Tried going in one direction and hasn't worked, so have come back to this point to change it.

Chapter 6

Running down to the research lab in the dungeons, Hermione yet again cursed herself for indulging one of her students with an outside of class discussion. It was just too easy to talk to people who were interested in what she loved, causing her to get caught up in a conversation after class, and thus making her late for her joint session with Severus.

Slamming open the door, she was met briefly with a wand point, before it was lowered, and the wielder snarled a "you're late" at her. He returned immediately to his work, without a second glance. She did however notice that he retained the blue stain across his face.

"I'm sorry Severus, I got held up talking to a student." Stifling a giggle at the still apparent blue, she sauntered over to the work bench. "No luck with finding an antidote then I gather?"

"No, much to my joy and rapture." He commented without cracking a smile. "I was just beginning to debate between brewing a cleansing potion as you suggested, or going and fetching some methylated spirits or turpentine." Yet again, she was reminded of his non-magic heritage, and how much it had affected this man before her.

"I think it is a little late for the harsh chemicals, the colour has been absorbed into your skin, and those liquids are not designed for that. It might make you sick."

"Thank you for your desperate need to point out the obvious before listening to the rest of what someone has to say. I knew that, which is why you'll find that the ingredients for a cleansing crème are laid out on the bench. I don't need your concern for my health." The comment cut to the bone, and reminded her exactly how she was supposed to tread around this man. She cut the tension the way he needed.

"Don't flatter your all-knowing self. I was merely worried about the effort I would have to put in to see you up to Madame Pomfrey and the waste of turps which could be put to better use washing your hair." She answered, using a snarky tone straight out of his repertoire, and promptly turned to read the formula and started ignoring him.

Yet again she amazed him. No one stood up and dealt shit straight back at him like she did, he was just too nasty and too good at it. She had been wasted as a student, wasted on her friends she continually had to dumb herself down for. She was nowhere near as irritating as he had considered her, no longer buck-toothed, with a maturity and intelligence beyond her years that appealed to his own.

His previous convictions about women's emotions hadn't changed. Minerva, Poppy and the other women he was forced to endure were still manipulative and irrational when it came down to it. But she was different, rational, allowed emotion to create her personality, not drive her life. She wasn't a whore to be used and left with a few Galleons. She was someone to match him, to join him. It was her.

With that revelation now in mind, he was determined and set on his new goal. The Wolfsbane research was just a means to an end. She was the objective, the desire, his drive and his reason to live. He wanted her to be his. Nothing else mattered. And he didn't think anything else ever would.

Across the lab desk, Hermione had submersed herself in the preparation of the potion. Slice, chop dice, grind, sprinkle, stir, mix... all the instructions coming together in her uppermost thoughts, while her deeper feelings dwelt upon her reasons for being here, not registering the intent upon Severus' face.

He'd been civil and had become nicer, almost human, as their research with the Wolfsbane moved on and even more so after the 'Cookie Monster'-itis episode. She wondered if beneath the exterior he had always portrayed, there might be something more there, a soul buried deep beneath the damage a double life had done to him. She dare not probe him though... it would just drive him further away from people, which is something she didn't want. A plan was not what she needed, patience would be the tactic employed here. And maybe a little subtle seduction on the side...

And with that in mind, she continued on with the potion, stirring and simmering away, still unaware of the possession on Severus' face.