Hermione Granger boarded the Hogwarts Express for the first time in three (very long) years. At the tender age of nineteen, almost twenty, she was going back to school to get her N.E.W.T.S. so she could pursue a career in...well, she was still undecided. She wasn't alone on her journey back to the wizarding world - in fact, she had her closest friends returning with her: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley (Ron's younger sister), and Luna Lovegood. The only ones that would have normally been there were Ginny and Luna, considering the school had been shut down for a year so they couldn't attend their Seventh year. Hermione, Harry, and Ron had spent what would have been their Seventh year wandering through forests, finding Horcruxes to destroy as they took down Lord Voldemort, the most evil wizard that had ever lived.

Of course, since the Final War and Voldemort had been taken down, the trio had lasting damage from the battle. Harry, whose lightning-shaped scar on his forehead no longer burned, still had nightmares and bad panic attacks. Ron was extremely paranoid and had several irrational fears that seemed utterly ridiculous to the average person in their right mind. Hermione, however, walked away without constant nightmares, panic attacks, paranoia, or silly fears. In fact, she was left with something more... a thirst for adventure - something dangerous.

Since her last visit to Hogwarts, Hermione had changed very much. She was no longer the bushy-haired, "insufferable know-it-all" (as her Potions master, Professor Snape, had dubbed her) little school girl that she once was. No, she had certainly blossomed into a beautiful young woman (with well-maintained hair). She was still as determined to learn as she had been when she was a child, there was no doubt about that. However, her determination to learn went beyond books and handy charms; she wanted to learn more about people - she found human nature fascinating.

Professor Severus Snape, surly and nearing forty, was growing more sour by the day. Sitting alone in his office that was located in the dungeons of Hogwarts castle, he was going over course schedules for all of his students that upcoming school year. Classes would begin the following day, and that evening all of the students would return to the castle. Severus dreaded having to (once again) teach Potions, when all he wanted was to leave the school and brood as far away from the damned place as possible.

While both of his masters were dead, Severus had somehow been roped in by former Headmaster Professor Dumbledore (one of his deceased masters) to stay at the school to look after the students. His other deceased master, Lord Voldemort, could have had followers that were lurking about that could still attempt something at the school. Severus highly doubted that there were still Death Eaters roaming outside of Azkaban, but he remained loyal to Dumbledore, even with him being gone for several years. The pay wasn't the greatest, but it was enough for him to keep a decent stock of private Potions ingredients, a bottle or two a week of Fire Whiskey, and the company of a female for an hour.

Severus had never had a girlfriend in his entire life. He had loved only one woman, and she didn't return his affections. Instead, she married the guy that Severus hated more than anyone, making Severus lose all faith in ever being loved. Despite his bitterness, he would always love Lily Evans, even if he buried it deep into his heart and tried to never think about her ever again, or try to ever love another woman again.

"It's all for fools," he muttered as he scribbled a few notes, nearly breaking the nib of his quill. "Fools that wear their hearts on their sleeves..."

"Isn't it exciting?" Hermione grinned at her friends from her seat by the window. "Returning after all of this time? To start fresh..."

"Exciting for you, maybe! Mum made me come back. She thinks without my N.E.W.T.S. I'll fail in life. Too late for that, I say... I'm going to get a big, fat 'T' on them, you wait! Snape'll probably make everything trick questions for me..." Ron's ears were beginning to turn red, indicating his stress.

"Oh, Ronald. Don't be so ridiculous," Hermione scolded while Ginny snickered.

"How you feelin', Harry?" she whispered to him, giving his hand a nice squeeze.

"I'm fine, thanks," Harry said quietly as he gave her a reassuring smile.

She returned his smile and kissed his cheek tenderly.

"You know how he is! He hates my guts! Hates Harry a bit more, but still... Just because you guys saw his memories doesn't mean you have to feel sorry for him. He's still a git," said Ron.

Hermione rolled her eyes.

"Have some compassion, Ron. The man nearly died and you're still giving him a rough time."

"He's nearly let Harry die, like, eight-hundred times! And think of all the bad things he's said about us."

"He's protected Harry, and he was undercover. I'm sure he'll be completely different when we go back," said Hermione, wishing she could have believed the words she spoke.

"Yeah right, 'Mione! He'll probably be worse... He's probably got Lucius Malfoy's cane to beat us with."

Hermione rolled her eyes, though she had to admit to herself that a little slap across the backside from Professor Snape dampend her knickers a bit.

"Don't be so childish, Ronald."

The Great Hall was lively for the first time since before the Final Battle. Severus frowned as he stared down from the staff table. His cold eyes fixed on the sea of ignorant students that he was forced to teach; he recognized many older versions of the dunderheads he had spent years with, feeling a small part inside of him die at the thought of having to deal with them all over again. Pansy Parkinson, a girl in his own House (Slytherin) was as ugly and pug-like as he remembered her, only she seemed to have gotten more ugly with age.

"Look! It's Harry Potter!" he heard Professor Flitwick whisper to Professor Lupin (who had returned to resume his spot as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher).

"My God, he looks just like James, doesn't he? Look how he's grown!" Lupin whispered to Flitwick. "There's Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger. Where'd the years go?"

Severus bit his tongue to stop himself from making a remark; instead, his gaze shifted over to Hermione Granger, who was taking a seat next to Ginny Weasley at the Gryffindor table. His eyes wandered over the little bit of curvy body structure he could make out from under her loose-fitting robes and felt a slight smirk form on his lips at the thoughts of what she could have been hiding underneath them.

At the Gryffindor table, Hermione was looking around with a smile on her face, trying her best to keep her heart rate under control. She nudged Ginny and pointed at the staff table.

"Look! There's Professor Lupin!" she whispered.

Ginny, Ron, and Harry looked up at the staff table and grinned in unison. The four of them waved up at the staff table, earning a wave in return from their beloved Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

"Hagrid should be coming soon," Harry muttered as he kept his eyes fixed on the staff table.

Hermione tuned out the follow-up conversation about the gamekeeper; instead, her eyes locked on Professor Snape, who had changed very little since she had last seen him. He still had black, shoulder-length hair and still had pale skin (only this time, she noted, it didn't look like it was on the verge of turning gray). He was tall, about six-foot-one, but had more meat on his bones than he had in the past. Hermione figured they had made him eat more when he was recovering in St. Mungo's.

Indeed, there was something about him that she had always found intriguing. He was considered "unattractive" by most, but to her...he wasn't exactly "good-looking," but he was alluring. He was dark, broken, unloved. Hermione had always been attracted to that type, as bad as she knew that was. As she continued to stare at him, her eyes becoming glassy from the lack of blinking and movement, a sudden thought had hit her - what if she tried to pursue him?

She knew right from the get-go that it was one of the most ignorant thoughts that she had ever considered in her life. Yet at the same time, it entailed all that she really wanted: An older man that was intelligent, a possible good lay, and danger. She toyed with the thought of breaking through the big, bad Potions master's calloused exterior and reaching the soft, fluffy man that she was certain of him being deep down. Perhaps if she showed him tenderness, he'd be more...humanly.

Lost in her thoughts of Professor Snape becoming her big, fluffy teddy bear, she didn't even notice Ron's hand waving in front of her face from across the table.

"'Mione! They've sorted, like, five kids already! Get that glazed look off your face or people will suspect us doing something bad!" he whispered.

Hermione rolled her eyes and watched as the extra-long sorting proceeded, her eyes wandering back to Professor Snape every once in a while when the thought of turning him into putty in her hands came to mind.

Severus knew that Ms. Granger had been staring at him, and he didn't like that. Not one bit. Given her unclean record, his best guess was that she and her little friends were planning to steal from his private storage again, or they were cooking up a way to disrupt his class the next day. Right away he started to think of the different ways he could punish them - he'd make Weasley scrub the school's toilets without magic, using only his toothbrush; Potter would spend an entire Saturday cleaning with Filch, the school's caretaker, without magic; and Granger... another small smirk, another dirty little thought...

How ridiculous
, he thought. Thinking about the little chit like that. I'm disgusting.

Ms. Granger caught Severus' eye when he had smirked; her cheeks went bright scarlet. His smirk slowly fell as he kept his eyes fixed on hers. As he pondered the use of Legillimency, Ms. Granger looked away to speak to one of her friends. Severus frowned and shifted in his seat, feeling his groin growing tight against his pants.

After the feast and a riveting speech from Headmistress McGonagall, everyone returned to their common rooms for the night. Hermione didn't hang around to visit with her fellow Gryffindors. Instead, she went straight to her dorm to ponder the idea of pursuing Snape when that was about as wise as cuddling a blast-ended skrewt. She knew she was being irrational and it was completely out of character for her, but since the war had ended, she felt that there was no longer anymore excitement in her life. She needed something to keep her going besides books and Harry's latest nightmare, or Ron's newest conspiracy theory.

"It's not like he'd let me in anyway," she muttered to herself as she laid on her back in her four-poster bed. "He'll probably dock points and tell me to get out of his sight, or get me expelled."

She sighed and rested her hands on her abdomen, thinking about how wrong the idea of trying to get into a teacher's trousers was, yet how dirty it was at the same time. She smirked a bit, wondering what her friends would say if they knew what "Hermione the prude" had been thinking about since seeing their surly Potions master. She had never told them that she had a crush on him in her Second year, which continued up until her Fourth year. After his memories...how could she not have a crush?

Pushing aside the sentimental side of her feelings, she felt her stomach flutter at the thought of his wide shoulders and thicker frame in those tighter-fitting robes he wore. She bit her bottom lip, grinning, while her hand made its way toward the waistband of her skirt. She felt so dirty, and she liked it...

Down in the dungeons, Severus was sitting in front of an empty fireplace in an old armchair he had taken from his childhood home on Spinner's End. He had a bottle of Firewhiskey in his left hand while his right hand busied itself in his trousers. He tilted his head back as he took an exceptionally long drink, lazily circling the pad of his thumb over the head of his throbbing erection.

Usually Severus would pay for the company of a witch if he were feeling randy, which was quite often. However, during the school year he had to result his daily (sometimes several times a day) "relief" by doing it himself. It was good enough for him - his right hand and a bottle of Ogden's Old Firewhiskey.

"What the hell were you plotting, witch?" he muttered as he closed his eyes, letting his head droop onto his shoulder as a pleasurable sensation went from his groin to his stomach as he gave his member a squeeze. "Ohh... And why am I wasting valuble brain cells on even pondering on someone like you? Insufferable know-it-all...that filled out deliciously... Merlin, I'm a sick fuck."

Between his taste for alcohol, need for constant sexual satisfaction, to his severe case of self-loathing, Severus was a mess. He knew no woman would ever want to get tangled up with a dark, brooding, grouchy old bugger like himself - not like he wanted a partner, anyway. He didn't want to deal with feelings, and he believed that only fools wore their hearts on their sleeves.

Several more minutes of lazy wanking and he reached his peak. His eyes were heavy and his wrist was stiff from keeping it bent for so long. He waved his right hand over his lap, performing a cleansing charm, then tucked away his still partially-erected penis.

"Maybe next time it'd be wise to use lubrication first..." he muttered as he slowly stood up, feeling himself chaffing a bit down there from not using lotion. A malicious smirk formed on his lips.

Truth was, Severus did like some pain. He liked it when he could provide the pain when he'd have a woman in his chambers. Tying them up, spanking them, getting their heat nice and slick so he could give it to them hard and fast, just as he liked it. He loved mind games as well. For once in his life, he felt in control when he could toy with a woman's mind while she was in his bed...or on his desk - he wasn't picky and enjoyed variety.

Severus stripped out of his teaching robes and grabbed a quick shower to wash away the filth of the day; afterward he dried himself off and went back to his bedroom, not bothering to dress, and collapsed onto the bed, sleepy and mildly buzzed.

Hermione awoke with a start, having dreamed that she was tied down on a table in Professor Snape's office. He had been circling her with some type of solid rod, looking like a panther getting ready to go in for its prey. Her heart raced as she sat up in bed, placing a shaky hand over her chest.

Sunlight was pouring in through the scarlet drapes across from Hermione's bed. Next to her was Ginny Weasley, who was sleeping peacefully while muttering things about Quidditch and Harry's eyes turning a fetching shade of mauve.

Hermione shifted her legs; her sex was tight, and her knickers felt damp. She sighed and rolled her eyes. Having wet dreams over the Potions master like some sort of perverted teenager...not like it was a far stretch from home, in her case. She had to snicker at the mental image of the reaction Professor Snape probably would've had if he knew.

She leaned against her headboard and furrowed her brow, thinking about the look on her professor's face while he had fixed those cold eyes on her in her dream. There was something in them that she had never seen before... It was a hunger.

Perhaps, she thought, he had a hunger for human affection and this was his way of trying to get it? Maybe binding me was his idea of ever being able to have someone in his life because they were never willing to be with him?

Either way, she couldn't dwell on her dream for long. She had to face him after lunch for Potions class and she didn't want him looking into her thoughts while that was swimming around her in mind. She got up and freshened herself for the long, first day that lay ahead.