Hey Readers. This is my first attempt at writing a Hermione/Severus Snape story. Please be gentle in your reviews. I have no idea what direction this story could or will take. I never do when I write. I let the characters decide what they want to happen to them. If you don't believe me, go read my huge ongoing story about Tom Riddle and Hermione...Time Changes All Things.(chapter 32 was just posted!)

Just so you know...I make no money at all from writing these stories. I do not claim to own the characters; just mighty jealous of JK Rowling. BTW, I am on a HUGE Alan Rickman/Severus Snape kick right now; I can't get enough. This is the reason this story came about. Enjoy!

Living: Chapter 1

The war was finally over and life was back to normal; whatever normal meant. Life had never been normal for Hermione, Harry or Ron. It seemed that life had always been full of worry and trouble. They had spent the first six years of school protecting Harry, while trying to find out how to fight Voldemort and rid the world of the monster. Now, two years later, Voldemort was dead and gone, it all felt so strange. The Golden Trio wasn't sure what to do with their extra time. It was their second night back at Hogwarts, finally starting their long awaited seventh year, and the three friends sat around the common room in front of the fire.

"So how was your day? You made it to all of your classes on time, right?" Hermione asked lightly trying to ease the uncomfortable feeling that permeated the room.

Ron looked up at her like she was crazy, "What kind of dumb question is that?"

"Ron, you git, you don't need to be insulting to her." Harry was worried by Hermione's reaction. He could see the tears that were threatening to fall from Hermione's eyes. They should be used to Ron and his ill manners by now, but it still hurt at times to be at the end of his sharp tongue.

"I was just worried about you both. But from now on, I guess I will stay out of your lives." Hermione jumped out and ran out of the common room.

"Blimey, I didn't know she would be so touchy." Ron looked a little bemused by Hermione's behavior.

"Ron, things are different now. We all can feel it, now that we are not working together to kill off the bad guy." Harry rubbed his scar thinking how nice it was not having to worry about Voldemort anymore.

"Hey, Harry, come and study with me." Ginny dropped down to grab Harry's hand. Harry leaned over to kiss Ginny while Ron groaned.

"Why don't you two go off to…study, isn't that what you said, Ginny?" Ron smirked at his baby sister.

"Uh, yes, Ron," Ginny pulled Harry up, "We have a lot of studying to do together." Harry gave a huge grin as he stared at Ginny.

"Just make sure that you use safe study habits," Ron spat out.

"Sod off, big brother," Ginny glared at Ron and dragged Harry away. Harry just gave a wave to Ron, and they disappeared from the common room.

Ron sat back wondering where Hermione had taken off to. He felt a little guilty about making her cry. Things had been very different since the war ended. It wasn't his fault that things hadn't gone anywhere between him and Hermione. Their kiss they had shared during the final battle had been great, but nothing had developed since. Everything just felt very awkward. He was going to try not and worry about it and just get this school year over with. He wanted to eventually play Quidditch professionally. He looked up to see Dean Thomas come into the common room. "Hey, mate! Want to play some chess?"

Hermione ran and ran as fast as she could. She didn't care where she ran, as long as it was away from Ron. She found herself in a dark corridor, all except for the light coming from the huge window at the top of the stairs. She walked up the stairs to take a seat in the window and stare out into the sunset. She cried unashamedly, wondering why life always had to be so damned confusing. Here she was turning 19 years old and she had been certain that she and Ron would be together now. The tears rolled off of her face and splashed down on her jumper. She didn't bother brushing them away. It felt good feeling them soak her jumper. It was peaceful looking out seeing the beautiful mountains highlighted by the setting sun. Hermione continued to sit and cry, trying to figure out how she would make it through this school year, emotionally. She leaned her head against the cold window pane, as another round of intense emotional pain escaped her as she continued crying.

Severus Snape was patrolling the corridors. It felt good being out and about and doing what he loved best; intimidating stupid dunderheads. He almost had decided not to return to Hogwarts. Minerva had begged him to return, saying she could not run the school without his help. After much thought, he realized that Hogwarts was the only home he had ever really known. Teaching is what he did best and he was too old to start a new profession. He was determined though, to not be led along like a slave as he had been for Dumbledore. He would be living his life for himself this time around.

As he walked quickly through the hallways, robes billowing, he heard the sounds of sobbing coming from up the corridor. With the expertness learned during his spying days, he softly approached the area where he heard the distressed crying. To his surprise, there sat Hermione Granger, all alone sobbing. He noticed her looking out the window as the sun set. What in the world could have made her so upset? Did the library close early tonight and she didn't get to study as long as she wanted to?

Severus stood there trying to decide how to approach her. He was not the most qualified to sooth someone's hurt feelings.

"Can I be of assistance, Ms. Granger?" his silky smooth voice broke the silence. Hermione jumped in the window seat as she turned to address her Professor.

Rubbing her eyes and her face she stood up, "I am fine, sir." Severus could see that she was not fine and wasn't sure if he wanted to press the matter.

Press on is what he chose to do, "I am not one of your foolish friends with no emotionally maturity. What did they do?" The sneer on his face clearly showed Hermione he understood more about her situation than she would have given him credit for.

"It wasn't they who did anything; it was just Ron. He was being a prat." Hermione's eyes threatened to well up with tears again.

"I should have guessed that it was Weasley. He is no good for you." Snape once again sneered at hearing that Ron had once again been behind Hermione's hurt feelings.

"Who is good for me, sir?" Hermione's question took Severus by surprise. He stood there looking into Hermione's rich, amber eyes. It was the first time he had really looked at her and noticed that she had grown into a very, lovely young woman. It was a little disconcerting that he had even recognized her as being something other than another student he had to teach.

Snape cleared his throat, "I see you with someone intelligent, level headed and mature." He paused and looked at Hermione as she studied him.

"I think I know someone like that," Hermione gave a small grin. The way that she looked at Snape made his toes curl and other parts of him start to stand at attention.

"I must continue on my patrols," he said feeling uncomfortable, "You must head back to your common room."

"Sir, aren't you going to take points away from me for being out here after hours?" Hermione's eyes sparkled as she waited to see what his answer was going to be.

"Would you like me to take points from Gryffindor, Ms. Granger?" Professor Snape had a small grin as he questioned Hermione.

"No, sir, I think I would rather you not do that." She smiled up at him, noticing just how tall and imposing he was. "Good night, Professor." Hermione started to walk away then she turned back around. "Thank you, sir." She gave him another big smile as she stood bouncing on her toes. She turned back around and headed to the Gryffindor common room.

Severus stood there for a few minutes trying to process everything that had just happened the last ten minutes. Never before had he ever spoken to Hermione in such a personal manner. He did not know what had come over him to start doing it now. With a faint smile, he looked at the window seat where she had been sitting. This would be an interesting year for certain. With no Dark Lord threatening their world, maybe they all would have a chance to try and find some happiness. Who was he going to find his happiness with? Hermione's smiling face came into his mind. No, that would never happen. Why would she ever be interested in an old, dried up, former Death Eater spy? He shook his head, and continued to patrol the corridors thinking of his encounter with Hermione.