Guess who's typing this on her newly bought laptop! Notice I said newly bought, not brand-new. It's about 20 pounds and can't do much... it has Windows 3.11 on here! I got it from my friend Tim for $20, which is cheaper than the ones on E-Bay and I know this one will work. If you're reading this, then you've probably read Broccoli, and like my work or just like flaming me. Either one is flattering. This story is called "Rutabaga"- I seem to have a vegetable theme going on here. This chapter is written mainly in Hermione's point of view. Anyway, on with the story!

Disclaimer: I scream, you scream, we all scream for Harry Potter but unfortunately J.K. Rowling owns it.

"The best part about being a singer is that you get to go to lots of overseas places, like Canada." - Brittney Spears



Hermione sighed and looked toward the front of the Great Hall. Yet another Sorting, but this would be the last one she'd witness. It was her seventh and final year at Hogwarts. She had been made Head Girl much to McGonagall's delight. She clapped automatically as "Nooren, Marilyn" was sorted into Gryffindor. Her attention was suddenly called to the fact that Malfoy, among other male students, was staring at her. She turned to Harry, on her left and Ron, who was across from Harry.

"Why are people looking at me?" she asked nervously. Harry and Ron stopped gazing longingly down at their empty plates and looked up at her.

"Well, your hair's smoother," Harry said.

"Yeah, softer and shinier. And you've gotten taller," Ron added.

"More defined features..."

"Longer eyelashes..."

"Fuller lips..."

"Fuller hips!"

"Definitely bigger -"

"Enough! Goodness, cut that out, you two," she interrupted before they could go on, "I'm still the brainy know-it-all, remember?" They shrugged and turned back to their still empty plates. The Sorting was still going on. Hermione scowled. She didn't want guys ogling her. And besides, she wasn't strikingly gorgeous or anything like that. You just don't change overnight- Harry and Ron were probably just making all that up. The Sorting finished with "Zander, Brandy" who was put in Slytherin. The food appeared on their plates after Dumbledore gave a short speech. Harry and Ron started shoveling it in, but Hermione didn't feel very hungry. She looked up at the staff table. It was the same as every year- McGongall and Dumbledore deep in conversation, Flitwick shoveling his food in at a rate to rival Harry and Ron's, Sprout looking around with cheery interest at the new students, and Snape-

Snape had his usual sneer in place. He wasn't eating at all, he looked paler than usual, and his eyes were sunken in. He reminded Hermione of Sirius when he was still presumed guilty- he had gotten off in her fifth year when Wormtail had been captured- over her fourth year summer, Arthur Weasley had been appointed Minister of Magic, much to Lucious Malfoy's rage. She figured the reason why Snape was looking so sickly is because Voldemort had been getting stronger- and Snape was still masquerading as a spy for Voldemort, meaning he most likely received a dose of the Cruciatus curse every time he did something "good" for Voldemort.

He suddenly looked up straight into her eyes. Snape had no expression, really, except for a subtle shadow of sadness. They held each other's gaze, both studying the other. Then, they both looked away simultaneously. Hermione turned back to her food, vaguely realizing she was almost shaky inside. She shrugged it off and tried to concentrate on the joke that Seamus was telling.

Snape frowned down at his food. He supposed he was experiencing some new side effects of the Cruciatus curse. He felt strange. No matter. He wondered why Hermione had been studying him, though. He knew she knew he was pretending to be a spy for Voldemort, but other than that, there was no reason to waste time and thoughts on him. She had really changed physically. He hoped she hadn't become arrogant from her appointment to Head Girl. Suddenly, a chicken leg flew through the air toward the Slytherin table. Some Gryffindor first years were trying to look innocent while cracking up. He scowled at all of the new first years, stood up, and left the Great Hall. He really didn't feel like eating.

"So, Hermione, when are you going to get to the library?" Ron teased. Hermione, Harry, and him were all sitting in the common room, feeling sleepy and comfortably full. Hermione smiled sweetly. "Actually, Ron, I'm going to the library first thing tomorrow morning. I'm looking up some things for Potions."

Ron balked a little. "Potions? Already? We haven't even had the class yet! Why potions? Man, I hate that git Snape," he said, changing thought tracks faster than a starfish in the jungle.

Hermione stood up and stretched, yawning a little while saying, "Snape's not that bad. I think I might want to be a potion researcher or maybe a potions professor after I graduate, so I'd better get working on it now. Goodnight, guys, I'm going to bed. See you both tomorrow morning."

Harry and Ron watched her walk out of the common room and up the staircase to her private room reserved for her, the Head Girl. Harry turned to Ron and said solemnly, "Ron. You and I both know Hermione's gone through some changes this year, and so some guys may try to take advantage of her. We need to look out for her, okay?"

Ron nodded and added, "I've always thought of her as a little sister. I have some sort of strange intuition about her, and I think this year she'll really find someone she likes. No matter who he is, we have to accept him, okay?"

Harry grinned. "Whatever you say, Professor Trelawney."

Hermione was falling, falling and falling and falling, with no indication of stopping or slowing down. All around her was a white foggy mist, from which undefined, blurry shapes would emerge and maliciously whisper a few things before retreating back into the mist.

"You're an insufferable know-it-all."

"A stinking mudblood."

"...married to your books. Don't you have any interest in dating at all?

"I see no difference."

1.1

1.2 Hermione jerked awake. What an awful dream! She couldn't really remember anything about it, just hat there were bad feelings in there- hurt and confusion, and even some anger. She shook her head to clear her thoughts and climbed out of bed, hitting the button on her alarm clock to turn it off before it went off in four minutes. She quickly pulled on her school robes and quickly walked to the library. Madam Pince was just unlocking the doors when Hermione came up. "I was wondering when you'd be here. Was your vacation fun?" Madam Pince asked Hermione kindly. She really was nice when you got to know her- and stayed quiet in the library.

1.3 Hermione flashed back a smile. "It was terrific. And I think I know what I want to have a career in." Hermione had had many discussions with Madam Pince on what to do once she graduated. Hermione had made the decision over the summer- it wasn't really that hard. She had almost subconsciously known it ever since she had brewed her first potion. Madam Pince beamed and led Hermione into the library and to her desk.

"Sit, dear, and tell me! Is it Transfiguration?"

Hermione shook her head. "This shouldn't really come as a surprise. You know I've read every book relating to the subject in all of Hogwarts, except any ones the teachers might have."

"Does that mean... you want to have a career in potions?" Madam Pince gasped excitedly, sounding a bit like Professor Flitwick. Hermione couldn't help but grin as she nodded. Madam Pince squealed and hugged Hermione. She then got up and disappeared into the back room with a wink. A moment later, she emerged, carrying a leather-bound book, the pages a bit yellowed.

Madam Pince handed it to Hermione and said, "This was just donated yesterday. Good luck reading it." She let out a little laugh and started stamping some books with the Stampid charm. Hermione looked down at the worn book. The title was "Speculative Theories on Potions". It looked as if it could've come from the Restricted Section. Hermione's eyes widened- this sounded intriguing. She turned and dashed out of the library.

"Hermione! Come on, it's dinnertime. Aren't you hungry? You didn't even eat lunch!" Ron and Harry stood in front of an armchair in the common room. Hermione had been reading all day, not even preparing to start classes tomorrow. She just shook her head, not even looking up from the book. Ron rolled his eyes and left for the Great Hall. Harry gave one last exasperated look at Hermione and set off after Ron.

Hermione folded her legs up under her and held the book even closer to her nose. She had to fight a grin of delight. She had found another note! When she had first started to read the book, there were notes tucked between the pages in various places, obviously stuck there by whomever had read the book last. The notes checked the equations of the books, had a few random notes about the text, ideas on how to improve that potion if it could be made, and even new ideas for new potions! What had surprised her most though, was that the notes were in Professor Snape's handwriting. She really didn't mind him; she knew he had good reason to be bitter and angry- look at all he'd been through and is going through right now. She couldn't help but feel for him every time he lashed out. She respected his mind, whatever glimpses of it she could get in class.

Sometimes (only rarely, she hated doing it), she'd make a mistake on purpose, so she'd get to see Snape's quick mind work out what was wrong and how to fix it. She thought she'd have had him one time, when she added food coloring to the potion, but no, he seemed to know that the potion itself was fine and that some sort of dye must have been added. She also knew he loved teaching, although she didn't exactly agree with his teaching style. She did agree with his expectations, though. Everyone, even Neville, could do well in the class if they just tried hard enough and stopped concentrating on hating or fearing Snape. She felt like her classmates hindered her learning, but every time someone made a mistake she could learn from their mistakes and see how Snape thought- it was all a matter of reading between the shouts and insults.

The past few years she would stay after class sometimes and talk to him about potions, but there were rare occasions they would talk about lots of other things, too. They had a lot in common. You couldn't exactly call them friends, though. Just two people interested in each other's interests and thoughts. But these notes provided her more of a view into his thoughts than all of her previous six years at Hogwarts combined. She kept reading and reading long after everyone had come back from dinner and gone to bed.

Snape sneered as his seventh year potions class (Gryffindors and Slytherins together again) came into his room. As usual, Parkinson was simpering over Malfoy while Potter and Weasley were glaring at Malfoy, Longbottom was trembling from head to foot, and Granger- Granger was being teased by some idiot Slytherin. "Lopez!" Snape called out.

David Lopez stopped teasing Granger and he looked up at Snape. "Y-yes sir?" he managed to stammer.

"I hope that you have been studying over the summer," Snape said in a cold voice (which wasn't entirely unfamiliar). David shook his head and Snape turned to Hermione.

"Ah, Miss Granger, I suspect you have already learned the whole curriculum at your Muggle parent's house. Perhaps I should just let you teach." Hermione looked at the ground, quickly glanced up at Snape and back at the floor again, blushing. She had picked up on his hidden compliment.

"I do want you to teach," she replied.

1.4 "Give that here, Granger." Hermione looked at Snape confusedly. He was looking at the book she was carrying- didn't he recognize it? Or maybe he remembered his notes that he had left in there and would take them out. She couldn't stand the thought of missing out on the notes. She had to obey him, so she handed the book to him, although a little reluctantly.

He took it without even looking at it and said, "See me after class." He turned and walked back to his desk. Harry and Ron mouthed furiously at him but didn't verbally say anything. Ron added a little more to the argument by making a charmingly rude gesture at Snape's back.

After class, Hermione waited until the room had cleared before approaching his desk.

"Yes, Granger? Something you want?" he asked wearily, not even mentioning the fact that he had asked to see her. Hermione's brows furrowed in concern. This definitely wasn't like him- he never forgot anything. Upon closer inspection, he looked extremely strained. Hermione made a sympathetic face. "Are you okay, Professor?"

He looked up at her and she was taken aback by the look in his eyes. It was a mixture of pity, understanding, apprehension, and something else she couldn't place. The look was suddenly gone, as if he had jerked his feelings out of sight. He handed her the book. "I heard you talking to Madam Pince in the library yesterday. You will never be a potion researcher or professor. It's too late now. You wasted your time hanging around with Potter and Weasley, doing who knows what to keep them as friends. No matter how hard you try, you'll fail. Forget potions. I thought you were smart."

Hermione stood in shock. After all these years of trying to earn recognition from him, it was useless. She had worked the hardest for his praise. She knew he didn't mean what he was saying- but why would he lash out at her? They'd gotten along relatively well since her fifth year... Hermione realized with a jolt that Snape was using this as an outlet for his anger and stress. He must know Voldemort has found him out or that the Aurors are planning an attack using him as bait, so he's doing this because he knows he's going to die. She felt herself choking up and so she turned toward the door, not facing him. If she looked at him she knew she'd break down.

"I respect you, Professor Snape. I always have and I always will. You've always been my favorite teacher- and my best one. I will have a career in potions- no matter what. You're the bravest man I know. Good luck against Voldemort." Hermione left the room in a sort of daze. She felt numb right up until the moment she passed through the doorway. She couldn't hold it back and burst into tears, tears of anger at Voldemort wanting to destroy a brilliant life, tears of sadness for his willing sacrifice, tears of remorse for not telling him or showing him her respect until the most likely last few days of his life.