Disclaimer:You know the routine...I'm not J.K regardless of how I want to believe it, my bank statement reinforces the fact to me constantly.

Knowing Miss Granger

Chapter 1: Birthday Vexations

January 9th, morning.

Severus groaned and sank deeper into the blankets on his bed. He hated this day above all others. It was January 9th, his birthday. While most people would anticipate parties, cakes, and heaps of presents, Severus Snape simply anticipated another cold winter's day that penetrated his bitter bones a little more deeply than most. Of course someone would offer the perfunctory "Happy Birthday Severus," the problem being that it was only that, perfunctory…polite, socially expected. In reality, they couldn't care less about his birthday or the measure of happiness it might contain.

Severus rose, tossing off not only his blankets, but also his self-pity. That was one party he absolutely refused to attend. He dressed quickly, pulling on his thickest coat and robes. The cold of the dungeons stung at him and his joints creaked as he walked to tend the embers of the dying fire in his chambers. He muttered to himself about age being an indifferent mistress and reached for his wand. Before he could spell the fire back to life, it flared with brilliant, verdant flames, sizzling and popping with the fervor of sapwood. Severus took a step back and aimed his wand at the offending fire but to his amusement it belched out a beautifully wrapped package onto his hearth. Once its task was completed, the flames subsided and the embers smoldered back to their original waning state.

"What foolishness is this?" Severus leaned down and picked up the smallish box. It was artfully wrapped in a black, velvety paper and tied with a luxurious green bow. Several sparkling charms hung from the ribbons. He pulled the trinkets free and examined them, a miniature book, a half-crown coin, and tiny red crystal in the shape of a teardrop glinted in his hand. He shoved them in the pockets of his robes, took the card from the box and slid it free of its envelope. His eyes traced back and forth across the paper as he took in the words…

I hope that you'll indulge my game

While unbeknownst to you my aim

You'll find more answers in stacks thick

Where knowledge has its flow restrict'

A silver cord will stand to show

The other parts you need to know

Snape gave an ignominious snort through his considerable nose and his upper lip curled into its favorite sneer. "I don't have time for ludicrous games…" he said, mumbling into the bleak coldness of his room.

However, it was against his nature to be presented with a conundrum of any kind and leave it unsolved. He placed the card in the pocket with the charms and turned his attention back to the gift. It didn't look dangerous, but just for good measure; he tapped it with his wand "Specialis Revelio;" nothing happened. "Finite Incantatum," again, the box simply sat in his hand.

Satisfied, Snape tugged at the ribbon and it fell to the floor. He slid his fingers along the seam of the paper and removed it in one piece. This left him with a small silver colored box, the lid of which, he carefully lifted. He stared down at the object now revealed, the surprise in his face not hidden. A small, elegant vial filled with a colorless liquid lay on a pillow of cotton. Inscribed on the glass were the words 'verum intus.' "Interesting…"

Snape slipped the bottle into a free pocket and turned to leave his rooms, wondering what fresh hell this would inevitably bring.

Ignoring the rumble in his stomach, he skipped breakfast in the main hall and headed straight for the library. Madam Pince, Hogwarts most faithful librarian, had already taken up her post, staring at the stacks as a mother vulture might her eggs.

"Severus, you're here awfully early today. May I assist you in some way?"

"No thank you Irma, I do believe I shall be able to find what I am looking for without issue."

"Very good then. Don't hesitate should you need me." Madame Pince said as she turned her attention back to the books at her check-in table. Severus nodded his head in appreciation and set off towards the restricted section.

He ran his fingers along the rows; the worn spines of dangerous old volumes tickled at his fingertips, each one filled with the tantalizing, living breath of dark magic. He pulled his hand away, feeling suddenly uneasy. A flash of silver caught his eye on one of the lower shelves. He reached for the book, which felt all too familiar in his hand…as he knew it would.

He pulled out the well-worn volume and glanced at the words Advanced Potion Making. He had always found it a bit amusing that his old textbook had found its way into the restricted section of the library. For the most part it was filled corrections on various potion ingredients and directions, all of which had been adopted into newer editions after the rediscovery of the book by Harry Potter. Still, his copy also contained a few things that delved into what many considered the darker aspects of the magical arts. Several spells and potions he'd crafted were not, as far as the ministry of magic was concerned, for the general public's consumption.

He flipped through the pages; each of them thick with his own scrawl, and found the one that the silver cord marked. Attached to the cord was a black velvet bookmark. It was inscribed with the legend "Narro Viva Voce." As he spoke the words they vanished from the material and new lines began to appear…

The Half-Blood Prince in flesh and script

Put back to one what once was ripped

Within these pages are defined

The musings of a learned mind

I wish to tap into that well

To uncloak the heart behind the veil

He read the words quietly aloud. His eyebrows knit together as he considered the meaning. Finishing the lines, they vanished again and yet another stanza of verse began to form...

For brewing what I wish to brew

I leave the cauldron's skill to you

You'll find it writ below my mark

On Oath, the purpose shuns the dark

Now if this errand you attend

These vexations will have found an end

As he finished speaking the lines the bookmark vanished in a puff of shimmering purple smoke. Another small box, seemingly drawn from the vapors plopped down onto the pages before him. He opened it without hesitation. Inside he found a knot of ginger root, a moonstone, and a small pouch of Runespoor eggs. "Hmm, apparently, someone isn't simply playing. Runespoor isn't exactly cheap…or all that legal for that matter."

Severus turned his attention to the open book already knowing what he would see. Beside the printed instructions of the Veritaserum were notes written by his own hand years ago. Sinusmosserum, Variations on the Veritaserum, Version One.

Severus was truly interested now. This was one of the more malevolent potions he'd managed to devise as a youth. Fear and curiosity fought in his mind. Though it would certainly be safer to derail the train of these actions here and now, he could not help but wonder to what ends was the mysterious antagonist grasped.

He closed the book and slipped it and the supplies into his pocket with the vial of truth serum. He strode from the library, but not before observing Madam Pince berating a frightened, young Hufflepuff for bringing a drink into her hallowed sanctuary. He stifled his smirk and wove his way to the dungeons, allowing the thoughts of the morning to stew in his mind. For now, his classes called, the task to which he'd been persuaded would have to wait.

January 9th, Afternoon

The final echoes of the children faded from the dungeon. It had been another exemplary day of mediocrity and idiocy. All morning shaking little hands had spilled ingredients, melted cauldrons, and turned in pitiful excuses for essays. He was exhausted and truly wanted nothing more than to retreat to his chambers and enjoy the company of a tumbler filled with Ogden's. However, the heaviness of his pockets would allow him no such rest.

Severus adjourned to the sanctuary of his office and prepared his supplies, withdrawing the vial of Veritaserum, the moonstone, Runespoor, and ginger from his robes. He laid them out meticulously, a place for everything and everything in its place...how he loved the slow and calculated methodology of his art. One stir clockwise, seven counter, three of this cut on the diagonal, seven drops of that, added at just the right moment. Process was a beautiful thing, almost mathematical; proof became theorem in the bottom of a cauldron. Though he feigned indifference, even disdain to the task he'd been set by the unseen other, his eager hands and darting eyes betrayed him.

Afternoon passed to evening and evening became night, and still he brewed. He stood there stirring as the heat of the brew caressed him; his shirtsleeves rolled to his elbows and his hair pulled back, though a few renegade strands clung to the damp skin of his face. There was no world but the black pot, the fire, and himself. With a final stir the fluid transformed from a thin and shimmering silver substance into a rich vermilion broth that moved like liquid velvet.

Suddenly, a voice broke him of his trance…

AN: I hope you're intrigued. I'm really happy with the outcome of this story so I hope you'll stay with it. I WILL update daily. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate your reviews. If you would be so kind as to leave me one I will be in your debt. Thank you for reading! ~R.V.