A little background:

The Order of the Phoenix was called to order that evening with sighs of resignation – and by resignation I mean boredom.

The Golden Trio was still the Golden Trio only they hadn't defeated Voldemort yet; however, they were able to significantly deplete his forces, by staying always vigilant and taking quick action during unlikely opportunities. One such opportunity caught a Gre Goyle senior unawares as he perused the romance aisle in Flourish and Blotts one afternoon by none other than Hermione Granger. He was immobilized, his dark mark revealed and arrested by Tonks. Witnesses said he was screaming obscenities at Miss Granger and when asked about the book he was holding entitled Unleashed Under the Cover of Moon he spat and told Rita Skeeter it was for his beloved daughter. One might be inclined to believe him if he had a daughter.

During the collection of the horcruxes their 7th year, they were unable to gather all of them, effectively prolonging the dark lords life and so the Voldemort remains.

Neville didn't kill Nagini and Voldemort didn't confront Harry as was planned that night; so life continued as did the battles.

Severus Snape didn't kill Albus Dumbledore that long ago night only because Bellatrix jumped the gun sending the killing curse haphazardly in a fit of rage after Draco balked at the act that would split his soul in two. She missed… and Albus was able to apperate out of sight living to fight another day. Severus raged against Bellatrix and spun towards the grounds to call the dark lord in order to convey the information. Voldemort was so angry he ended up trying to kill the messenger charging Nagini on Severus.

Hermione and Harry found Severus in the shrieking shack, bleeding and dying from Nagini's bite. He had begged Harry to take the memories from him. The memories that proved he was working on the side of the light. Those memories also proved how truly in love with Lily Evans he had been.

**flashback **

The Golden Trio –now duo sans the red head at the moment- acted quickly and took the dying man to Madam Pomphrey. It was Hermione's research and study that led her to discover the antidote for Nagini's powerful poison.

Madame Pomphrey kept Severus alive for two weeks waiting for Hermione's potion to brew. Hermione wasn't able to test the potion, so they all hoped for the best when Severus drank the potential cure. He slept for another four days steadily improving with an Order member always with him, sitting vigilant, until the man woke.

***

(SS POV)

He did not want to drink that foul smelling potion that the insufferable know-it-all made. He even sneered, the best sneer he could muster in his condition, at the young Gryffindor and old healer that stood there encouraging him to drink the rancid brew; alas to no avail, Madame Pomphrey gave him 'the look' while the know-it-all placed her hands on her hips expressing their stead-fast readiness to engage in a battle of the wills... resigned, he sighed and drank the potion grudgingly.

On day two, he could hear voices; they sounded muffled. He couldn't clear his head enough to understand their spoken words. He sensed anothers' presence, but couldn't open his eyes just yet, so he slept some more.

On day four, his eyes fluttered open and he groaned. He could hear a chair scrape the floor and padded footsteps coming closer to him.

"Professor Snape? Can you hear me, Sir?" she asked hopeful

He groaned again. He could feel his nose tickling, "Kindly remove that birds nest you call hair from my face, Miss Granger."

"Oh Sorry. How are you feeling, sir?"

"Like I was bitten by a giant snake and then made to drink a revolting concoction labeled cure; how should I feel?" Still the dour man she had always known.

"Dead." was all she said and walked away to share the news that their potions master was awake and that his sunshiney disposition had not changed in the least, she thought sarcastically.

He felt sufficiently humbled and decided to just wait for someone else to come by before he spoke again.

The sun was shining bright when Madame Pomphrey brought him some pumpkin juice. He drank like he had not any sustenance for days...four days to be specific. He drained the large glass just in time to see Dumbledore pull the curtain back and sit down on the chair by his bed.

"Severus. Glad you're back. How are feeling?"

"Better. I am looking forward to..." He hesitated and then said, "…to getting back to work if necessary." He looked pointedly at the twinkle-y eyed man sitting to his left.

Albus nodded, "Ah yes, Severus, if you are up to it, then we could use your help. You are very valuable indeed. As for Miss Granger, she is eager to share her potion with you, as well as study under your tutelage as your apprentice if you so deem her worthy." Albus paused knowing the potions master would agree if only to pay the debt he owed the young witch for saving his life.

Severus thought for a moment - she was talented and very bright, though insufferably chatty. How will I endure her constant chatter? She will drive me mad. She is always so... happy. ugh...

"I will allow her an apprenticeship if she can manage to separate herself from her two sidekicks for the duration."

"I will send her in then." Albus smiled, patted his potions master on the knee then turned and left.

Hermione poked her head inside the curtain, "Professor - are you dressed?" She smiled to lighten the mood.

"You know the answer girl, just come and sit."

She did what she was told and looked at him expectantly.

"You will come for instruction three times per week at 8pm sharp. You will not be tardy and you will be alone. You will begin by taking over my brewing the wolfsbane potion and present me an essay on The Theory of Hereditary Lycanthropy. Do you have questions?" Severus asked her, watching the young girl almost jump out of her skin with excitement.

"No sir. I will be there! Thank you." she said barely able to refrain from hugging the hard-faced man.

He watched her skip away and almost - almost- smirked. Instead he closed his eyes and slept for a time. He needed to keep his strength as the dark lord thought he was dead, it would cause a stir when he showed himself once again to the snake like man on whom he was spying.

***

Two years later Hermione was a potions apprentice under Severus Snape. Ron and Harry were aurors; they had been accepted into auror training right after they passed their NEWTs – thanks, in part, to their local know-it-all helping them study.

Sometime during the two years of apprenticeship, Hermione and Severus established an unlikely friendship, many of their friends thought they were more than friends, but were afraid of the potions experts' infamous tempers, they all kept quiet.

Hermione, with Severus' guidance, created a potion and spell that brought Sirius back from the veil. She was a shooting star in the potions arena as well as a powerful witch. One night after an Order meeting complete with Remus, Sirius, the Weaselys, Tonks, Harry, Albus, Mcgonagall, Severus and Moody they had dinner; laughing and joking. Hermione looked around at her friends and family and secretly thanked the Gods that she was so blessed with so many people to love. Right after that thought, Ron shoveled a mountain of mashed potatoes in his mouth and then tried to speak.

"Ron, swallow first then speak." Hermione admonished

The red head nodded, swallowed and then mumbled something about 'not his mother'. When dessert came around he took a piece of pie and ate it in two bites.

"Why can't you just enjoy your food, Ron?" Hermione asked a little grossed out and a lot annoyed.

"I could ask the same about you Hermione except replace food with…I don't know, A LIFE!"

The glare on her face made most of the occupants at the table pause mid bite and back up. Hermione was a kind soul and as tolerant as they came, but you could only push her so far and Ron knew how to push her that far really quickly.

"Hermione, he doesn't know what he's saying, just let it go." Harry said looking at Ron with a grimace, as if to say 'shut up already'.

"No Harry. I think he knows exactly what he's saying." Hermione said quietly as she stood.

Everyone was looking around trying to figure out something to say or do to save Ron from being hexed into oblivion.

"Miss Granger, there is no need to be overly dramatic. It is quite unbecoming of a potions apprentice, particularly mine, to be sent away to Azkaban for sending the killing curse to her best friend." Severus said slowly and as condescendingly as possible. He thought if he shamed her, she would turn her ire on him instead of the poor red head sitting in front of her.

She wouldn't dare hex me the professor thought smugly.

He thought wrong.

She turned her glare from Ron to Severus pulled out her wand and sent the Avis spell his way. He was able to stand quickly enough as he bolted to the fireplace to leave, he almost made it too before six canaries attacked him. He couldn't sit back for a week afterwards.

After Severus was able to floo, screaming curses all the way (everyone was really surprised at how fast he could move) she turned back to Ron only to find Tonks standing in front of the dumb red head.

"You can't hex him Hermione. He's just a guy." Tonks thought that made a slight difference. She saw a flicker in the younger witch's eyes acknowledging the meaning, but that was shot to hell when Ron spoke …again.

"What do you mean 'just a guy'. I know what I said; Hermione doesn't have any kind of social life. She doesn't go out, she doesn't date, probably still a virgin…" that earned hisses from around the room, but he continued "all she does is study and work on potions. She even dresses in black like Professor Snape!" he yelled. At that point, Tonks shrugged her shoulders and walking out of the kitchen (leaving Ron unprotected) told Hermione, "Do your worst, I never saw a thing."

Hermione took a breath and spoke with a calm she didn't feel, "First of all, we wear black because often times potions spill or explode and other colors would look dirty or stained. Second, I have goals in life, being the best at what I do is one of them, so yes I study and work hard. Third, I don't date because I don't have time. Fourth, I'd rather be a virgin than some of the loose harlots that you date." And she was going to leave it at that, but he just couldn't let it go.

"Maybe if you got laid, you would have more fun…I could help you with that." He said sarcastically, but not really.

She turned, "STUPEFY!" then flicked her wand levitating him upside down so that his feet were touching the ceiling.

"Divesto!" his clothes were gone.

"Enervate." He was now awake.

"Judging by the looks of things, you couldn't satisfy a gerbil. So thanks, but no thanks. I'll wait for someone with a bit more….substance, shall we say." She said as she stopped looking at his penis and started looking him in the eye.

Everyone was of course watching from the doorway in various stages of laughter. She marched to the library and sat down with a book intending on leaving him there…for a while.

Slowly everyone left for their respective homes except for Hermione, Sirius, Remus and Harry who lived at Grimmauld Place. Harry and Sirius were Aurors while Remus and Hermione were working in Hogwarts - one as an assistant potions professor and apprentice and one as the DADA professor.

They sat together, like they do often, in front of the fireplace with various amounts of firewhiskey left in their glasses. It was Sirius, who spoke first,

"So, Mi, what's up with you and Snivellus?" he asked with a glint in his eye.

She made a face at him, "A lady does not kiss and tell, Sirius." she snipped with laughter. "You know Severus would never see me that way - he still sees the know-it-all swot." she said her tone tainted with sadness.

Sirius laughed, "First, you have always been and always will be a know-it-all swot! …part of why we love you and second, you just admitted that you like him 'that way'."

"Did not." she harrumphed.

Harry and Remus just smiled at their friend, but it was Remus - always the kind word - who said "He just needs some time. I see him watch you when you aren't looking. He doesn't see his student anymore. He does see the beautiful witch you have grown into." he said this with a smile hoping to make her see how cherished she was.

"Yeah, Mi, We love you." Harry told her.

"Hey I should get you guys drunk more often, these 'I love Hermione' nights are awesome!" she laughed at their praise.

"Good night gentlemen." she swallowed the remainder of her drink and headed up to her bedroom.

"Night, love." both Remus and Sirius said together

"Night Mi." Harry said and turned to pour another drink.

Then something dawned on Sirius; Remus' tone of voice - almost reverent.

"Moony, are you sweet on our young witch?"

Remus cringed a bit; he was hoping no one noticed. He shrugged, "maybe. She is lovely and smart and kind and reliable and..." he stopped listing the witch's attributes, when the barking laughter of Sirius and Harry interrupted.