Dear all!

I originally wrote this story as a one shot, however upon request decided to extent it into a full fanfic. This was one of my first attempts at writing a fanfiction and as such, looking back, I feel that much of the writing can be improved upon. Further, as I'm sure many writers on this site have, at some point I lost interest in the story and decided to start a new one, leaving this one unfinished and incomplete.

However, after still receiving reviews and alerts on Staying Up Late, I have decided to go through the original twenty or so chapters, altering the bits that I don't think work and trying to improve on the quality of writing. I then hope to be able to finish it off, although having two other fanfics on the go, I am not sure when, or indeed if this can be done.

I massively appreciate everyone's continued support and hope that you will be happy with any changes made. I also encourage new readers to review so that I can improve further.

Thank you to everyone who has reviewed and enjoyed this story thus far! If it were not for you I would have stopped writing after Chapter 1.

Staying Up Late

Punching at the pillows on his bed, Harry tried vainly to plump them into a more comfortable position. Swinging a leg out of the covers then deciding against it and throwing the cover back over himself he groaned in annoyance. He was either too hot or too cold and sleep seemed like a million miles away. Deciding that he was now much too warm he tried to shrug the throw off again but succeeded only in entangling the sheets around his limbs. "Goddamit", he whispered to the dark. With a sigh of exasperation he threw himself back down onto the pillow to stare at the canopy over the bed, his eyes searching over the intricately weaved patterns of the tapestry.

The soft whispers of breath from his sleeping roommates infused the air in the dormitory with a serenity and Harry's own breathing unconsciously synced to its steady rhythm. But there was a greater silence that permeated under the subtle rise and fall that made Harry feel distinctly uncomfortable, a feeling that jarred with the welcoming familiarity of the room and made his heart twist.

The hand on his watch passed by, a pronounced ticking noise which seemed louder that it should really possibly be from a small wrist watch. Still the underlying silence prevailed whilst the black haired boy continued to trace over the gold leaves woven in to the material above him. The practical potions exam the next morning was dawning and Harry knew that if sleep continued to elude him, in the words of Ron, he would "royally cock up" his Living Death potion, but every time he shut his eyes he saw Ginny and Seamus, lips locked, eyes closed, hands entwined underneath the table, and something would stir in his chest: a strange tugging sensation like a fist clenching tightly at his heart.

Harry has always seen Ginny as Ron's younger sister, shy and contained, but something had changed since she had come back from the summer break, although he was not sure whether it was her or his own perception of her. He noticed for the first time how graceful she was as she walked, how her eyes sparkled as she laughed, how her hair shone when it caught the sun. She was truly beautiful.

Taking a deep breath he closed his eyes and tried to hold on to a picture of her in his mind from the previous week. It was a memory that he believed would be engraved in his senses for the rest of his life, however long that may be. They had been walking along the path together, shoulders sometimes grazing. Every time that happened he would feel a fiery blaze down his side, every fibre of his being yearning to reach across and touch her smooth porcelain skin. He wondered how he could possibly have resisted taking her hand.

The pair had been talking about the upcoming quidditch match, mindless babble really: how their new strategy was sure to outwit Slytherin, the new Nymbus, and Luna Lovegood's absurd lion head. Suddenly she had run off ahead. "Common Harry!", she yelled, turning back to look at him over her shoulder. He was momentarily transfixed at the site of her, hair slightly askew from her bun, cheeks flushed. It felt as though time had slowed down; he could see the glint as the gravel twisted in to the air from under her feet, her soft lips crafting his name so beautifully between rows of pearly white teeth. "Harry...Harry!" she called to him, laughing and beckoning him to her. She smiled a radiant smile and he was sure that his heart would burst.

Sleep finally claimed a hold on him, wrapping him in a cloak of untroubled slumber. "Harry...Harry!". He smiled as his mind began to drift away. "Harry...Harry!". The angelic voice was becoming more urgent. It made Harry feel uncomfortable and he frowned in his sleep. "Harry, Harry wake up!".

His eyes snapped open to find himself looking into a sea green pair of eyes, red hair framing the face that hovered above him, noticeable even in the dark, luminescent with its beauty. Ginny.

What an enjoyable dream.

His mouth twitched into a smile and he closed his eyes again, trying to fall back into the previously blissful slumber, reaching back into the darkness and unconscious desires. Something flicked him hard across the nose. 'Ow!", he exclaimed, sitting bolt up-right in bed, coming face to face with the object of his dream. Her face was milky white in the moonlight and her eyes had taken on an almost iridescent tone as they studied his sleep filled face and then moved away.

Harry reached across for his glasses, rubbing his eyes before placing them squarely on his face. Ginny had run to Ron's bed in the meantime and was now proceeding to shake her brother awake. Ron mumbled in his sleep and went to turn to his side. "Wake up you lazy git", Ginny hissed at him, pulling on his equally flame red hair. His eyes opened groggily and it took him a moment to register his younger sister only feet away from him.

"Bloody hell!" he exclaimed, jumping out of bed, pulling the covers with him to cover his bare chest. He looked at Harry, his mouth hanging open to form a perfect 'o', confusion and surprise evident on his white face.

"Ginny, what -", Harry started before she held up a hand to stop him.

"Come quick", she whispered, before scrambling down the stone stairway that led to the boy's dormitory, her footsteps banishing the silence. Harry quickly swung his legs over the bed, placing his feet into his slippers, before hurrying off after Ginny.

Ron looked to the doorway that his best friend and sister had just exited through, and then looked longingly back towards his bed. He mumbled something about 'being the death of him' before snatching a jumper from the floor and walking languidly from the room.

Ginny had flopped down onto one of the bulky sofas that surrounding the dying fire, motioning for the boys to do the same. They did so, leaning forward on their knees eager to see what she could possibly want at two o'clock in the morning. Ginny quickly looked around, glancing over her shoulder to make sure that there was no one else in the common room before leaning forward to face the boys, her eyes hard but flashing with disquiet.

"It's Hermione" she said finally once she had convinced herself that their conversation was private.

Her voice was barely audible and she appeared agitated. "She, well, um, she...", Ginny looked troubled, unsure of the right words, twisting her fingers together self-consciously.

"Why don't you start from the beginning", Harry said, trying to calm her, although he himself was starting to feel a rising panic in his gut. Hermione was his best friend. Had something hurt her? His stomach lurched at the thought. Ginny nodded and refolded her hands together.

"Well, you all have the practical potions exam tomorrow don't you", she began. "You know Hermione, she wanted to make sure that not even Snape could criticise her potion so she planned on staying awake tonight to make sure that she knew the theory inside out.

"Of course", Ron muttered under his breath. Ginny ignored him, save only to throw him a disparaging look.

"I haven't really been able to sleep that well recently you see," she continued, quickly glancing at Harry and then looking down at her lap, averting her eyes from him. "So I got up to see what Hermione was doing and when she told me she planned to stay up late. There was some chocolate that had been left out on the side, I think it was Lavendar's, and I told her that maybe the sugar would help her to stay awake. She took one, but I didn't take one myself because well, I'm trying to watch my figure." She looked sheepish and Harry wondered whether it was the right time to tell her that she didn't need to lose weight, that she was perfect in every way, but suddenly she slapped her fists down into the sofa

"I didn't know, honestly I didn't!", she exclaimed, her voice rising sharply.

"Bloody hell woman, what are you talking about?", asked Ron, who looked ready to fall back to sleep amongst the cushions he had used to form some sort a fort around himself.

Ginny looked exasperated as she continued: "Somebody must have hexed the chocolates because the next thing I know she had pushed everything on to the floor and was running around the room like a mad person!". She sighed and scrunched up her face, looking so disappointed. Harry longed to reach forward to brush the hair from her face but he refrained, twisting his own fingers together in an effort to to reach out to her.

"Where is she now?" he asked instead. Ginny raised her eyes, looking bashful and slightly embarassed.

"I didn't know what else to do so I, um, well I put her in a body binder curse", she said quitely.

Harry nodded in understanding but Ron merely snorted with laughter.

"I think maybe you should go and take the spell off her and bring her down, Gin", said Harry.

"Yes, okay" she said and went to walk off to the girls dormitory when Harry called out to her, "oh, and bring that box of chocolates down with you too".

Ginny disappeared up the stairs when Harry turned to Ron and landed a punch on his arm, "you git", he said to Ron, a smile playing on his face nonetheless. Obviously someone had played a practical joke on the Gryffindor girls, but it seemed that at least for now, there was nothing seriously wrong with Hermione and Harry felt the knot in his stomach dissipate.

They heard her before they saw her: a high pitch giggle getting louder as she descended the stairs. Her normal refrained and graceful pose had gone, and instead she was almost running, only slowed down by Ginny holding on to her hand and trying to pull her back. As she reached the bottom of the stairs she slipped free of Ginny's grasp and began to skip around the common room, eyes darting around, her cheeks pink and flushed. She ran to the dying embers of the fire, which reflected in her eyes as she crouched down in front of it. Harry and Ron looked at one another, fighting an internal battle between amusement and concern.

"Oooooh, Pretty!", she exclaimed, reaching a hand out to put into the fire. Ginny, Ron and Harry saw what she was about to do and all lunged forward at the same time to try to grab the girl. Ron got there first, sleep all but gone from his face, snatching Hermione's hand away from the fire. She giggled again, something very uncharacteristic of her, as she reached out her free hand to Ron's hair. "Pretty fire", she cooed. Ron grabbed her free wrist with his remaining hand and hauled her to her feet. Sitting her down on the sofa, putting himself squarely in front of her and the fire, he put an arm around her to pin her down to the sofa, a flush rising to his cheeks when he saw Ginny looking at him with one eyebrow raised and a smirk on her face.

"Shut up", he glared at her before drawing his attention back to the struggling girl in his arms.

Harry took the box of chocolates from Ginny's hands. They looked normal enough. He brought the box to his nose. They smelled normal enough too. They were set in a plastic wrapper than lined the box, with dips and grooves for the sweets to sit in. Harry frowned and put a finger between the wrapper and box and proceeded to pull it up. There was something folded underneath, what looked like a small piece of ripped parchment.

Know it all Gryffindor's

Not so smart now,

Lets see you be so bold

With the brains of a five year old.



Ginny had read the note over Harry's shoulder and gasped when she understood its meaning, her hand flying to her mouth. Ron, who was still struggling to keep Hermione still on the sofa, asked what it said. "Those bastards", he hissed, when Harry read the note aloud. "They think they can make a fool out of our Hermione, well they're wrong, she is still more clever than them with a five year old brain than they will ever be".

"Ron, you do know that the box wasn't for Hermione, it was given to Lavender and was probably meant for all of us?", said Ginny to her brother.

Ron blushed deeply, "yeh, I know, I was just saying wasn't I" he mumbled into his lap, the tips of his ears turning pink.

"I hate to say this, but there's only one person who can help us here", Harry said. The brother and sister looked at him quizzically. Searching both of their faces he spoke the name:


"Harry, no! No way!" cried out Ron, looking positively alarmed, "not that greasy git! Why not McGonagall?"

"No, Harry's right", said Ginny to her brother, "this is Snape's area. He's the best person to bring her to"

"Snape though!", he exclaimed again, "we are talking about the same person aren't we? Greasy hair, big nose? He nearly castrated Neville the other week for knocking over a jar of grasshoppers - think of what he'll do to us if we bring her down to him, like this, in the middle of the night!"

Whilst he had been talking and mimicking Snape's nose, Ron had let go out of Hermione. She now had shot up off the sofa and proceeded to run around the room, grabbing handfuls of paper and throwing them into the air, so that they rained down onto the floor. All that could be heard was the gasping breath of Hermione and the flutter of paper as it landed like early snow amongst the chairs and tables. All three Gryffindors looked at her.

"On second thoughts...".

Ginny had stayed in the common room to tidy up the mess that Hermione had made, but not before fetching a cardigan for Hermione who was bouncing impatiently on the balls of her feet. She threw it over the girls agitated shoulders in a maternal way, directing a small smile towards Harry. They stood at the portrait door, placing Hermione firmly between the two boys.

Before opening it Harry turned to Hermione, bending down to look at her straight in the eyes, and using the most authorative voice he could muster. "Hermione, we have to play the silent game now. It means you have to be as quiet as you can. You must not talk or run away from Ron or I. Do you understand me?". Hermione nodded enthusiastically, drawing her lips into a tight line and pretending to zip shut her mouth with her hand. "Good girl" Harry said, feeling strange to be talking to his best friend in such a way, but also not really recognising the excitable girl before him. She looked the same, but well - she wasn't.

Ginny swung open the portrait door for them and they clambered out, both Ron and Harry taking one of Hermione's hands each.

"Good luck" she whispered mostly to Harry.

"Thanks Gin", he whispered back, before stepping into the darkness of the castle.

They reached the dungeons without incident, missing the regular patrols of teachers and prefects, albeit nearly having a run in with Filch's cat.

"You sure about this mate?", Ron murmured to Harry as they rounded the last steps which lead down to the bowels of Hogwarts.

"You loose!" shouted Hermione joyfully! "You didn't play the silent game! I win!"

"Shhh!" both boys hissed at the same time. Harry nodded to Ron over Hermione's head, mouthing 'look at her' and cocking his head in Hermione's direction, who was now struggling under to shake off their grip on her.

Reaching the potion classroom they slowly pushed open the wooden door and made their way to the back of the room to an alcove that was carved into the stone. A solid black oak door stood in front of them, ominous and towering at the best of times, but in the dead of night in the cold dungeon platform, simply terrifying.

Hermione slid behind Ron, sensing that whatever was coming next would probably not be pleasant. Taking a deep breath Harry knocked hard on the door.

There was a pregnant silence in the room as they waited. "Maybe he's out?" said Ron hopefully after a brief pause, but suddenly with no warning the door was swung open violently. Snape towered over them, a thunderous expression on his face.

If looks could kill...

Both boys unconsciously took a step backwards. They noted that even though it was the dead of the night Snape was still wearing his black teaching robes which pooled around his feet and blended into the darkness. Only his eyes were truly visible, glittering with an intense ferocity. The sight was truly frightening.

Still glaring at them Snape took a menacing step forward. "If you two come up with any other excuse than that you are both dying, which I assure you, I will not be displeased to hear, then you can both turn around right now and expect to find Gryffindor house in minus points tomorrow", he hissed at them. "Explain yourselves. NOW".

Ron seemed to have frozen to the spot, his eyes wide and mouth hanging open. Harry took a nervous intake of breath before beginning to speak. "Sir, we didn't know who else to come to. You see it's-"

At this point Hermione timidly poked her head around Ron's shoulder, before coming face to face with the ominous potions master. She let out a squeal of fright and ducked back behind Ron who was still slack faced and pale.

"Miss Granger?" he asked, seeming confused. "What the devil is going on?"

"Hermione has been tricked into taking a potion...Sir", Harry spoke, trying to bite back the anger that threatened to creep into his voice. He handed Snape the slip of paper that they had found. He read it carefully, frowning and then pocketing it.

"Very well, you may go now. Leave Miss Granger with me".

"But sir!", both Ron and Harry exclaimed simultaneously, as if untrusting to leave their best friend, and an incapacitated one at that, alone with this choleric man.

"Leave now or find yourselves in detention from now until, let me see... forever" he jeered. "Come girl", he ordered Hermione, standing back against the doorway to let her pass.

Hermione though shrank further behind Ron, a frightened whimper escaping from her mouth. She clutched at Harry's hand, twisting her fingers into his. Harry turned to face his best friend, placing his free hand on her shoulder and looking directly into her frightened eyes. "'Mione, this is Professor Snape, he's going to help you".

Hermione glanced at Snape and then back to Harry. Despite his reassurances though she continued to remain rooted behind Ron. Both boys seemed unsure of what to do and shifted their feet nervously under Snape's intense gaze. The potions master looked at Hermione with a mix of curiosity and exasperation. The anger seemed to have fallen from his face and he looked merely tired and wearisome.

"I cannot help Miss Granger if she refuses to co-operate", he said to Harry, who was nervously trying to tug Hermione from where she was now clutching to the material of Ron's robes..

"Sir, I -". Snape held up a long fingered hand to stop him. Drawing out his wand he flicked it over his head and made a sweeping motion across the ground. Immediately an opalescent silvery blue stream of what looked like liquid, flew effortlessly from the wand tip to form a small doe, which raised a shimmering head to look at the girl before darting into the open door of Snape's chambers.

Hermione's eyes lit up and she let go of Harry and Ron instantly, chasing the doe into the passageway, a nervous giggle echoing around the dark potions classroom. Snape's eyes followed her until flicking back and scowling down at the boys who now stood empty handed. "Now... Leave". He didn't even wait for them to turn around before slamming the door in their faces, a violent bang echoing down the dungeon corridors.

Snape walked into his living quarters to fine Hermione perched on his sofa, the remnants of his patronus vanishing in wisps around her.

"Miss Granger", Snape called. "Miss Granger".

He received no response from the girl and no recognition that he had even called her name. She continued to sit on the sofa, hand slightly raised to grasp at the ever vanishing wisps of light.


She looked up from where she sat and immediately tried to shrink into the vast depths of the chair as she made eye contact with him, the smile quickly fading from her face. Snape made to step towards her but she let out a strangled yelp and almost leapt from the chair. He sighed, black hair swinging around his shoulders, but did not not take another step.

"Hermione, I'm not going to hurt you. My name is Professor Snape. Do you understand?"

Hermione slowly nodded and then, much to Snape's extreme surprise, she held out her right hand to him. He walked over to her and looked at her extended hand. If any one had been here to see him they would have laughed to see the normally impassive potions master with such a perplexed look on his face, his black eyebrows arched in a curious mix of amusement, annoyance and irritation.

"Daddy told me that when he meets a new person they both holds hands like this". She mimicked the motion with her hand, looking up at Snape from where she sat. He made no movement to take her hand and was about to turn around when he saw her face crumple, eyes losing their twinkle that not moments before, dare he say it, had captivated him.

He held out his hand to her, engulfing her small soft one in his large callused hand. She smiled up at him and began to sway their hands together. "No child", Snape spoke softly, "like this", and moved his arm up and down. Normally he would never have let his persona drop like this but he was sure that the girl would have no recollection of this when he had administered the anti-potion. If he was going to help her she could not keep hiding behind whatever object she could find he thought to himself as he gently shook hands with her.

It was strange to see the normally headstrong Hermione Granger sitting in front of him like a lost little girl. Her feet were drawn up beneath her and she had wrapped her arms protectively around her knees. Her pale skin was almost translucent in the candle light, which flickered in her large chocolate brown eyes. He hated to admit it but she was his best student, even though he would never let her know that, and in fact, gave her a harder time than most of the students in his class because of it. Snape had no doubt who had brewed the potion: "M, G, C". Malfoy, Crab, Goyle. Strong words would be had and as much as he hated to do it, he would have to deduct points from his own house.

"Look at the that", said Hermione, sliding off the sofa. Despite being still the size of a normal eighteen year old girl, her head did not even reach the top of Snape's shoulders and seeing the girl there, in her pink pajamas, made Snape suddenly aware of just how vulnerable the girl was. Something stirred in his chest, a sort of tug. He had not felt it in years. It made him even more angry with Malfoy and his cronies. Perhaps he should have words with Lucius.

With a start he realised that Hermione was heading for the fire and quickly grabbed her by the wrist, much the same as Ron had done only minutes earlier. "You stupid, silly little girl", he hissed at her, feeling her finch away from him, tears springing to her eyes. Snape pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, one hand still encircling Hermione's wrist. He was not the cold villain that his students painted him out to be, but even still he was not a particularly tolerant man at the best of times. It seemed that he would have to muster every amount of patience that he owned to merely make the girl sit still and shut up.

A glimmering tear formed in the girl's soft eyes, before falling down her face.

Like dew in the morning.

Without even thinking Snape reached out and brushed the tear away with his thumb. His own action appeared to shock him before he quickly regained composure over himself, straightening up and leading Hermione to a large armchair. He pulled another chair over to sit in front of her. "Miss Granger...Hermione, how old are you?".

"I'm five and one quarter Mr Sir", she replied. Snape was surprised to hear a slight lisp in her speech. Her normal eighteen year old self was impeccably well-spoken. The new title that she had given him almost elicited a chuckle in his throat as well, but he kept it down, despite the fact that the corners of his mouth did lift ever so slightly.

"Very well, and do you know where you are?". Hermione looked around and nodded. Snape gripped the arms of the chair, trying with all his might not to snap at her. "Well, where are you child?".

"Mr Sir's cave", she said with complete sincerity in his voice. Snape couldn't help letting out a snort this time, his anger dissipating as he realised that with the bare stone walls, to a five year old this could indeed pass for a cave.

"Now Miss Granger, Hermione, I just want to check a couple of things" he told her. "Is that okay?" he added as an afterthought. He was painfully aware of how much she had flinched when he got close to her and again something stirred deep in his chest when he realised that the girl was frightened of him. Normally this was what he purposively elected his students to feel, he even took joy out of watching them squirm under this virulent gaze. But this was different, and so he waited patiently for her to agree. She eyed him warily before nodding her head, brown curls bouncing on her shoulders.

Snape reached for her wrist and checked her pulse with two long and pale fingers. He seemed satisfied with the results and dropped her wrist, before reaching to take out his ivory wand. Hermione only stared, her eyes wide and questioning. Realising that the child was muggle born and would not have even seen a wand until she was twelve he was careful to mutter the spell under his breath so as not to startle her. "Lumos". A light spilled from the tip of his wand, dancing across the floorboards and up and around the girl. "Follow the light with your eyes", he instructed her, moving his wand from side to side.

"Now, open your mouth".

"Are you a dentist too, Mr Sir?", she asked quizzically, head cocked to one side like a little bird.

Being a half-blood and growing up in a muggle world, Snape was aware of what a dentist was, although he did find all their strange drills and metal instruments arcane compared to what could be achieved by magic.

"No, I am not", he told her. He flicked his wand and the light went out, satisfied that all her vitals were fine. He knew the correct anti-potion to brew, it was just a simple concoction, although it would have to simmer for a few hours. Snape physically shivered at the though...he had no idea how to keep a five year old entertained.

Should I call Minerva?

"Hermione, I need you to stay put okay?" he told her. Suddenly, a memory flooded his mind, completely unasked for, completely unwelcome. It came nonetheless though.

"Severus, stay put in this chair whilst Mother goes to the door', his Mother had said.

Snape had eyed her warily. He wanted to go and play in the garden, not sit inside all day. His mother could see his frustration.

"Sevy, you listen to me, there are crocodiles that hide under the floorboards who like to eat little children who move from their special safe chairs. If you move they'll gobble you up just like that!" she warned dangerously, her eyes wide as she clapped her hands together loudly, mimicking the snap of jaws.

Snape had jumped and looked around nervously at the wooden floor. His mother bent down and kissed him on the forehead.

"Love you Sevy", she whispered in his ear

"Love you Mum", he whispered back.

Snape suddenly snapped back to real life, pushing his thoughts back into the dark recesses of his mind. He had sworn long ago not to go looking back there, it presented nothing but a world of pain and hurt.

He turned back to Hermione who was looking up at him patiently. "That's a special safe chair you see, and if you move from it the floor crocodiles will eat you up". He felt incredibly silly talking such gibberish, but to his amusement Hermione gasped in shock and immediately drew her legs up under her, eyeing the old floorboards with fear and childish wonder. Turning around to walk to his lab a strange and foreign noise filled the room: a deep and resonating laughter, although he could not help but feel strangely sad, even after all this time.

Snape returned from brewing the potion. It had not taken long but now he needed to leave it to simmer over the heat and allow the ingredients to blend together. Perhaps he should give her a book to read, he thought, although he really had nothing suitable in the slightest for a five year old. As he walked back into the living room though, his fears were quashed.

Hermione had fallen asleep. Legs still drawn up to her chest, her arms were tightly wrapped around them and her head had fallen against the side of the armchair. He could hear her breathing softly as he approached her carefully, making sure not to wake her. Her eyelashes fluttered briefly and she stirred in her sleep but she did not wake.

He was relieved to find her asleep, entertaining children was definitely not one of his fortes. However he would still have to sit up with her to make sure that the potion did not boil over, or that she did not wake to be alone in the darkness. With a stir of annoyance he realised that she was sitting in his armchair.

He was tempted to levitate her to the sofa, however there was something so innocent about her resting there that he felt strangely compelled for the warmth of human contact. Standing in front of her he gently picked her up, being careful not to stir her out of sleep. Her eyes remained tightly shut but as Snape picked her up, she wound her arms around his neck, fingers clutching at his black robes.

He set her down on the sofa and felt a strange stirring in the pit of his stomach when her hands remained wrapped around his neck, her fingers still buried into the black folds. Taking her hands he slowly and carefully loosened her grasp around him and let them fall back to her sides.

He moved to his bedroom to fetch a quilt which he laid on her sleeping form. Even though this girl in front of him was his student, Granger, it was not that girl that he actually saw before him. They might have looked the same, but the small girl lying on his sofa, under his quilt, seemed so vulnerable and breakable compared to the stubborn girl that he had taught for the past six years. In fact, he felt strangely protective over this 'Hermione'.

A strand of brown curly hair had fallen over her cheekbone and he brushed it gently behind her ear with a long finger. Straightening up he remained looking down at her, almost wishing that she was back in his arms again. Somehow when he had picked her up it had felt - right. But that was complete nonsense of course, people did not fit together like jigsaw puzzles and she was, after all, his student.

Fighting the urge to run his finger along her jawbone he pulled back and retreated to his armchair, still warm from her body heat. Shaking himself out of his momentary sentimentality he pulled out a stack of student essays and began to mark them.

Glancing at the clock over the fire place Snape saw that the potion would be just about ready, and the girl would need to be going back to her dormitory to get ready for a day of school. He felt a solitary pang of loneliness. It had been nice have company, even if it was of a student with a five year old mind.

He was sure that if Hermione was to know the full extend of her actions she would be mortified. Usually he would have revelled in this and taken any opportunity to increase such embarrassment, but something stopped him. Maybe he was feeling particularly benevolent after having had actual human company, maybe it was because, dare he say it, she was actually surprisingly cute as a small child. Either way though he thought it probably kindest that as soon as the potion had been given to her to go back to treating her as 'Granger', and not 'Hermione', and to try and forget everything that had happened that night.

Pulling out a quill and paper from a draw at his desk, he dipped the quill into a pot of emerald green ink and began to write:

Dears Messrs. Potter and Weasley,

I believe it would be prudent to keep last night's activities to ourselves; I have no doubt that Miss Granger would not be happy to hear of her induced state and as such, for the interests of my students, I do believe that it will be in everyone's bests interests to remain silent.

Prof. Snape.

Reading the letter back he wondered whether it was not harsh enough. Had the girl softened him so much in one night? Folding the letter neatly he placed it into an envelope an approached his own personal owl that was perched sleeping, head tucked under her wing. Snape stroked her smooth feathers, and tied the letter expertly to her leg. 'Take this to the Gryffindor dormitory' he muttered faintly to the bird who shook herself awake, hooted softly at him and spread her wings to launch out of a small open window at the top of the room.

Snape retreated into his potion's lab and rummaged around for an empty glass. Wordlessly he poured the now complete potion into it ready to give to Hermione. She was still sleeping as he emerged back into the sitting room and Snape found that she had wrapped herself up in the quilt as if it were some kind of cocoon. Kneeling at her side he laid a hand gently on her shoulder. "Child, wake up now", he said tenderly to her.

She stirred at the sound of his voice, sitting up and rubbing her eyes sleepily. "Hullo, Mr Sir", she spoke groggily.

He said nothing but nodded a greeting back. Setting the potion down to one side he handed her a bundle which he had asked a house elf to bring to him earlier in the morning. She looked at them with curiosity. "Go to the bathroom and put them on", he told her. Hermione nodded sleepily and slid off the sofa, heading off to the door that he had just gestured at.

Snap waited patiently for her to return. He had only just realised earlier in the morning about the fact that she had been placed in his care whilst wearing her pyjamas. He needed her to come round in her uniform to present to her the story which he had conjured whilst she slept. He had already in fact sent said pajamas back to her dormitory with the help of one of the school elves.

Hearing a small cough behind him he turned around to see Hermione standing behind him, nearly choking on his pumpkin juice. She had done the buttons up on her shirt completely wrong and her tie hung loosely around her neck. Her skirt was on back to front and her socks hung from her feet, flopping around as she walked towards him.

He hated to admit it but it was an endearing sight and he couldn't help but smile. She sat down on the sofa and he moved towards her, pulling up her socks with his nimble hands. With a quick flick of his wand he rearranged the buttons of her shirt so that they did up neatly.

He stood in front of the mirror, trying in vain to work out what to do with the loose piece of material that hung around his neck. 'Stupid thing', he muttered, picking it up and letting it fall back to his chest.

He walked down the stairs and stood in front of her, the 'stupid' scrap of material hanging from his hands.

'Oh Sevy', his mother sighed, as she kneeled in front of him.

Lifting up his shirt collar she put the tie around his neck.

'The dog chases the bunny around the rabbit hole, and around again', she spoke softly as her hand wove the tie around his neck, 'and then the bunny jumps down the rabbit hole'.

Putting his collar down she straightened the tie, before tickling him in his sides. He squealed in delight before leaning in to her soft embrace.

'There you go', he murmured gently, straightening her tie. 'Hermione, its time for you to go now', he said, still kneeling before her.

"But Mr Sir, I like it here with you', she pleaded to him, tears welling up in her eyes, clinging softly to her long eyelashes.

"I know. I know" he murmured. He stood up fully and was surprised when she launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his waist.

At first he was unsure of what to do and he left his arms hanging limply at his sides, but at some point he began to hug her back, fighting back a strange urge to stroke her hair. You don't have to give it to her, a dark voice in the back of his mind said as he looked at the anti-potion which he had brewed. But of course he did, what was he thinking? That he could somehow keep a student here with him like the child he never had, a nearly grown-woman at that. He shook his head, fearing for his own sanity if he was really being this sentimental.

He picked it up and handed it to her. "Drink this", he said, before taking a step backwards and turning his back on her. It would take no time at all for the potion to have an effect and he didn't want Granger to see the strange sadness on his face when she came round.

Momentarily there was a gasp from behind him.

"Professor Snape...what...what am I doing here?" Hermione looked around her in a complete state of shock, trying desperately to take in the unfamiliar surroundings and the fact that her potions master was there with her.

"Do you not remember you insolent little girl?", Snape sneered, turning to face her, "You came barging to my office to ask for extra time to prepare for practical examination this afternoon before passing out on my sofa. I dare say you will find 100 points deducted from Gryffindor".

She was so shocked her jaw fell ever so slightly open before she appeared to regain some composure. "I am very very sorry Sir, it will not happen again. I don't, I don't even remember.." she trailed off.

"Perhaps you should stop trying to be such an insufferable know-it-all then Miss Granger, it is obviously affecting that brain of yours", he jeered. "Now, get out, go to your classes".

"Yes Professor", Hermione said, grabbing her school jumper from the chair and hurrying out of Snape's quarters.

Snape watched her go before sinking back in to his armchair. He covered his face with his hand and closed his eyes. A sudden memory burned in the front of his brain and his chest tightened.

"Don't forget Sevy, I'll always love you no matter what".

"Me too Mummy. I love you too".