Disclaimer : I do not own Harry Potter ... I just take them out the box to play =-)

A / N : I got bored and decided to write a new fic. Seeing how well by last Hermione/Severus fic went, I decided I'd write another one. I have it all planned out and shall post once a week. I hope you enjoy it!

Warning : This IS AU! All flames WILL be ignored. Hermione Granger IS of age in this fic due to her use of the time turner.


-CHAPTER ONE-

It all starts

Hermione Granger was the best witch of the age, but no-one knew of the emotional and physical pain that her so called "best friends" did to her on a regular basis.

It all started with the odd insult here and there. At first she thought they were just joking around and she would just smile and laugh along with them before carrying on with whatever she was doing. But, one day they were sitting in the common room working on their homework and looking over their mid-term grades. Ron looked over Hermione's shoulder and laughed, she had straight O's even in potions which had never happened before.

"What's your problem Ron?" she asked annoyed at him for hovering over her shoulder.

"What did you do to get an 'O' from Snape? Shag him?"

"No Ron. Since the end of the war he's been giving everyone the grades that they deserve."

"I've still failed."

"You deserved it Ron."

"I did too, Hermione," Harry said joining their near argument.

"The only reason either of you did so very well last year was because you were using his book and not working yourselves."

Ron huffed and pushed her forward into the table. The air was pushed from her lungs and she sat for a few moments catching her breath before snatching up her things and storming to the library even though that it was way past curfew. She knew she would probably get caught, but her mind was on the change in the boys, even when she bumped into Professor McGonagall she just apologised and carried on walking.

That night, Hermione spent in the back of the library at a hidden table. She didn't sleep and didn't want to. It was Friday night and Hermione had no wish to return to the common room or tower.

Over the weekend Ron and Harry continued to throw insults about her mid-term results, Hermione wanted nothing more than to go and hide and not have to deal with the two lads. But, she just grinned and kept her emotions in check.

When the week started, Hermione was relieved as she could burry herself into her school work. Both Ron and Harry carried on with their insults about her grades and how she got them. Hermione tried to defend herself and make them realise just how hard she had to work to get her grades. Deep down she knew that they would never understand, and that one day, she would once again be without friends. She hoped and prayed that that day arrived later rather than sooner. Her greatest fear was not something that was physical like spiders, but was something that most people were afraid of ... being alone. She had been alone for most of her life, having only her parents for company until she arrived at Hogwarts and then she had only the company of her books and the odd professor until the incident with the troll and she met Harry and Ron. Now though, she was regretting ever meeting the two.

Three weeks later and Hermione had had enough. The comments were getting more frequent and she was finding it increasingly harder to ignore them and get along with them at the same time. So, one Friday evening she put down her potions essay which was working on when she heard Ron comment once more on her potions grades.

"I wonder where she goes every Friday night," Harry whispered to Ron as he watched Hermione pack away her things.

"She's probably down in the dungeons shagging Snape," Ron whispered back spitting out their Professor's name and threw a disgusted look at Hermione.

"Look, what is your problem," Hermione finally snapped. "I work hard for all of my grades and for your information; I'm working with Professor McGonagall on a project for Professor Dumbledore. Get you facts right before you start accusing people of things that they have never and will never happen."

"Well 'Mione, why didn't you tell us? We wouldn't have said anything."

"Because I was told not to tell anyone," Hermione said in a calmed voice, hoping that her harsh voice had gotten through to the immature lads. For the past two weeks Hermione had been working in Professor McGonagall's chambers. Her grades had started to drop and when Hermione had told her that she couldn't concentrate around the lads, she offered Hermione the use of her chambers over the weekend. That's not something she would tell the boys though, it would just cause more trouble.

Over the next couple of months, Hermione got along well with boys and her grades shot back up. She stopped going to Professor McGonagall's chambers every weekend and started to spend more time with her friends. The Christmas holidays quickly approach and once again, Hermione was at odds with Harry and Ron.

"Come on Hermione. Why won't you spend Christmas at the burrow with us?"

"Because I want to stay here, I need to stay here this year."

"Why?"

"It's the first Christmas without my parents, no offence Ron, but I need to by on my own."

"You mean you're spending it with Snape."

"Shut up Ron. I'm going to be spending a lot of it at my parents' graves." Hermione blinked hard, forcing the build up of tears back.

"I understand, Hermione."

"Thanks Harry."

"But couldn't you grieve for them with us?"

"I don't want to be around anyone this Christmas."

"Fine. Come on Harry, let's go before we miss the train."

Hermione sighed as she watched both the lads storm out of the common room. As far as she knew, she was the only student staying as everyone else was spending the first Christmas without Voldemort with their families, even those that had lost relatives. Hermione had lost her only relatives, but thanks to her use of the time turner during her third year, she was already of age. She had two summer jobs working in book stores and had done for a while, so she had a good build up of money in her bank. She managed, but she knew if she went to the burrow, Molly would take it upon herself to look after the girl.

Hermione headed for the Great Hall knowing that the staff members would be expecting her to come to all the meals throughout the holiday as she had started to make it a habit of missing meals when she knew she would have no choice but to sit by the boys.

Hermione was enjoying the peace and quiet, well, that was until Christmas day when instead of presents from her friends, she found the ones she had sent them and a letter on top of her desk while her gifts were at the end of her bed. Carefully, Hermione opened the letter and a tear slid down her cheek at seeing the gifts returned and unopened.

Hermione,

We know you sent us gifts but we don't want anything from you. You'll probably go crying to Snape and he'll hold you and come and get us later today, but we don't care. We don't see how your parents could have even loved you.

Ronald and Harry

More tears slid down her cheeks and she let the letter slip from her fingers and turned to her gifts. She only had three this year but she didn't care.

She received a set of books on Transfiguration and a bar of muggle chocolate from Professor Dumbledore, a set of potions books and an invitation to use his private lab at any time from Professor Snape and a locket with moving photos of her parents in from Professor McGonagall. She smiled and mentally thanked them all. She had gifts for them in the draw to her desk as she wanted to deliver them face-to-face.

Smiling and forgetting all about Harry and Ron, Hermione almost skipped down to breakfast, her long emerald green dress flowing around her as she quickly walked.

"Good morning Hermione," the Professor's chorused.

"Good morning Professor's."

"Get any good gifts?"

"Yes thank you, yourselves?"

"Yes." Everyone around the table nodded and got back to chatting to their neighbour.

Hermione had sat herself next to Professor Snape and turned to him smiled. "How are you today Professor?"

"Tired, but otherwise well. Yourself?"

"The same."

"So, what did you get this year?"

"Books, chocolate, a locket and your gift."

"Just four?"

"Three, Sir. I didn't get anything from the boys this year."

Severus just raised an eyebrow in questioning, but didn't push her. "Are you planning on doing anything today?"

"I was thinking of asking Professor McGonagall to take me to my parents' graves after breakfast and then after delivering the gifts I have brought for a few people, I was going to come down and ask for the use of a corner of your lab so I could try one of the potions from one of my new books."

"If Professor Dumbledore is okay with it, I'll take you, I was thinking of getting out of the castle for a while and that leaves the two lovebirds to themselves."

"Thank you for thinking of us Severus. I have no problem with it as long as Hermione hasn't." Hermione shook her head. "Then leave whenever you wish, just make sure you're back before dinner tonight."

"Of course. When would you like to leave, Miss Granger?"

"As soon as possible."

"Go get your cloak when you have finished and come down to my office."

Hermione nodded and carried on with her breakfast as Severus swept out of the Great Hall in his usual manner.

"Be kind to him, Hermione."

"I will Minerva. Now, I better be off, the sooner the better."

"Come up and see us later."

"Of course."

Minerva stood and embraced the girl, giving her the hanky that Albus had given her when she lost her mother. "I'm here if you want me," Minerva whispered.

"Thank you," Hermione whispered back.

Half an hour later and Hermione was stood in front of her parents' grave with her potions Professor.

"I'll just go and stand over there."

"No, please stay." Severus nodded. "This is the first time I've been here."

"You're strong Miss Granger, you'll grieve and it won't be so hard in the future."

"I know. And please, call me 'Hermione'"

"I'm sorry." Hermione nodded. "What were they like?"

Hermione shrugged. "They loved me. Let me have what ever I want as long as it wouldn't be thrown out a week later. I already have my own personal library. They left me the house when they died so I have somewhere to live. I remember when I was little, my mother used to read to me every night and she walked in one night before I could talk and I was sat there in my crib reading a book. I was a quite child and didn't start talking until I was nearly four, by then I was already in school. I used to sit in the corner of nursery and read whichever book I had brought with me that day."

"And they didn't mind?"

"Not my parents. They really did love me, at least, I think they did."

"They sound like wonderful people who loved you so very much. Who has said otherwise?"

"Harry and Ron; they're angry with me because I didn't want to go to the burrow with them this year. They even sent the gifts that I brought them back unopened. It was rather a shock this morning." Hermione conjured a large bouquet of flowers and placed them at the foot of the head stone. "I miss you so much. I'll always love and remember you mama and papa," Hermione whispered and finally let her tears fall. "Can we go back now please?" Hermione asked quietly.

"Of course." Severus brought the girl, no, young woman, into his arms and held her close as they apperated to the castle. As they walked from the gates to main entrance, he asked, "Would you like to come and have some tea with me?"

"Sure," she whispered.

After dinner Hermione went back down to the dungeons with Severus and handed him his gift once the door to his office was closed. Severus slowly opened it and smiled.

"How on earth did you get this, Hermione?"

"I've been saving and I couldn't think of anything else. I don't really think you're the jewellery kind."

"I do like my jewellery, but this is so much better than what I have ever received before. Thank you."

"It's my pleasure Severus."

"I'm glad you're finally using my first name, especially now that you have access to my private labs."

"Thank you so much for that."

"It'll be nice to see how talented you really are." Severus smiled at the young woman in front of him.

"Merry Christmas Severus, and thank you for today."

"My pleasure."

Hermione approached Severus and hugged him quickly before retreating.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't apologise Hermione, you're more than welcome to come to me for a hug any time. Merry Christmas."

"Thank you Severus. And again, Merry Christmas."

The two smiled at each other before Hermione turned and headed off to find Minerva and Albus to give them their gifts.

"Hermione!" Minerva hugged Hermione close. "How are you?"

"I'm good Minerva."

"Severus wasn't too hard on you, was he?"

"No. In fact he gave me permission to use his given name and free access to his private labs."

"Wow."

"I know." Hermione smiled and looked around the room. "Where's Albus?"

"I believe he is in the study placing his new books on the shelves."

"Let's go and pull him away then, I have something for the both of you."

"Really?"

"Come one Minerva!" Hermione rushed into the study and threw herself into Albus' arms.

"Hello Kitten. You seem happy."

"I am."

"Severus," Minerva whispered as an explanation.

Albus nodded. "Now, what brought you from his arms and into mine."

"I wasn't in his arms Albus and I come baring gifts."

"In that case to the living room!" Albus exclaimed as he dragged his girls to sit in front of the fire. "Come on then Hermione, what have you brought us."

"Calm down Albus. Calm down." Hermione chuckled and dropped his gift into his lap.

Albus quickly tore the sparkling paper and smiled widely. "Socks!"

"I hope you don't have a pair like that."

"Nope, they're great!" Albus gazed at the dancing lemon drops that were being chased by a tabby kitten and bright red phoenix.

"Good." Hermione sat next to Minerva and handed her, her gift. "Open it."

Minerva nodded and carefully took the wrapper from around the gift and she smiled lightly when she saw the locket. It was a shiny white gold tabby cat with a picture of Albus and Hermione on the inside. "I love it thank you Kitten."

"It's fine, honestly."

Minerva hugged Hermione and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "Got time to spend with an old lady and her crazy husband?"

"You're not old, Minerva."

"Oh, but I'm crazy?"

"Yes!" both girls shouted.

~o~o~

With Christmas out of the way, and the term starting back up, Hermione had less and less time to spend brewing with Severus or on her own. Now, she had to try and avoid Harry and Ron and get all of her work done. But, as Albus and Minerva had decided to crack down on curfew and everyone had to be in their common rooms and stay there until morning, she had no choice but to stay in the tower. Now though, both Ron and Harry were trying to convince her to do all of their homework and so far, she had refused point blank to even look at them, but that just proved to make them angry.

"Guys, just leave me alone, please."

"No. Why won't you do it? You used to."

"I never used to do any thing other than help you Ronald, and don't think I'm going to start doing it now."

"You will Hermione."

"Back off Harry." Hermione stood and tried to get past him, but he towered above her. "Get out of my way."

Harry just looked at her before slapping her face. "Do it now."

"Or what? You going to hit me again?"

Harry did hit her again ... twice as hard. "Going to refuse again?" Hermione didn't say anything so he hit her again, this time in the stomach, hard and she fell backwards into the chair behind her. "You will do it, if you want to your not."

Hermione silently nodded and started to repeat everything she had already written onto her own parchment, twice. She finally finished everything at 6am and charmed the writing to look like that of Harry's and Ron's. Sighing, she went and showered before running towards the Great Hall to eat before the boys decided to join her. She spotted them coming down the stairs and she stood quickly and went straight for the transfiguration classroom, thrusting their work into their hands as she passed.

The next few weeks saw Hermione getting slowly more and more tired. She was getting a collection of bruises which she had to keep covered by glamours and clothes. She had stopped going down to Severus' private lab as she had far too much work to do while the boys played. She wanted nothing more than to go to Severus' lab and chambers and never leave. That was where she felt safe; it was somewhere where she knew that the boys couldn't reach her.

To Be Continued ...