Hermione cursed as she dropped her second stirring rod of the evening. Damn his deep, sexy voice. No, damn her awful, horrid subconscious for coming up with that ridiculous dream last night. Then his lovely voice came again, sounding far less than amused. "Hermione, you have been taking your potion?" Hermione glared at Severus, wishing that any of the blame could go his way. The potion, created as a cure for the symptoms of torture by Cruciatus, did far more than merely quell the inevitable tremors. No, it also rid her of the nightmares that had plagued her sleep incessantly, leaving room for more pleasant dreams.

Hermione inner thoughts gave a sarcastic laugh. Pleasant indeed. "Yes, Severus."

Severus's lips turned down into a frown, one expression Hermione was thankful enough did not remind her of her imagination's nighttime activities. "I rather expect an apprentice of mine to be able to focus, even after a night of troubled sleep." His acerbic tone turned sympathetic. "Leave the Pepper-Up, Hermione. Research for your thesis until your focus returns."

Hermione thanked Severus quickly before fleeing to her room. She had a fantastic apprenticeship, with the most skilled Potions Master in Britain. Why did she have to start dreaming about him? Hermione flushed as she shed her brewing robes and opted for something less stiff. Especially such a dream, one that left her nerves tingling every time she thought about it. Hermione sighed, shaking such thoughts from her mind. Even though she knew it required eye contact, those were dangerous thoughts to be having about a Legilimens. Hermione resolutely turned to her bookshelf, determined to take her mind off the man.

Severus ran a hand through his hair as the stubborn witch left his lab. She was the only student – witch or wizard – that he had ever considered making his apprentice, and rightly so. Her mind excelled, and with the proper prompting produced the same bouts of genius and imagination that his did. That, in fact, had been his greatest fear in taking Hermione as his apprentice, that she would only be intelligent and not innovative, but she had surpassed his wild imaginings.

Severus shuddered, attempting once again to resurrect his cynical thoughts. He had not been able to sneer at her, or any of his colleagues for that matter, since the war ended, but this was more than that. Severus still disagreed, rather strongly, with his fellow professors, and he had gotten livid with the apprentice healer more than once. Nothing Hermione did ever brought more than a slight tickling of anger upon him, and this bothered Severus.

Severus shook his head, returning to the experimental potion in front of him. Hermione had been jittery and faint before he started administering the potion daily. Today she had been bothered and frustrated, symptoms of something else entirely. Severus frowned more deeply, wondering what could possibly be distracting his resolute apprentice.

A/N: I apologize for two things. First, any ridiculously archaic language that might have slipped in, because I've been reading Emerson and Thoreau in English. Second, for that absurd alliteration. I just could not for the life of me word it any better. Anyway, I have been working on my pre-fumbling declaration SS/HG interactions, and thought you deserved a little something for being such a patient fanbase. As I said, I'm still working on this dynamic because I absolutely detest angst (For example, I am NEVER reading "The Artist of the Beautiful" ever again. Owen is a fanciful wimp.). Tension, however, I can work with.

The reason 'the apprentice healer' is mentioned is because I might, perhaps, just a little maybe, work this into my long fic. If I ever get to late September timeline-wise *mutters about being stuck on the 15th*.