A/N: Alright, I know it's been awhile, but life has been busy and I've been trying to get this story up on GE. So here's a shorter chapter for your enjoyment.
Hermione opened her eyes slowly, blinking rapidly when they landed on the dark form of Severus Snape sitting in her armchair. In front of her fire. In her room. He was staring at the fire, seemingly completely absorbed, and so she very carefully, very slowly climbed out of bed.
She was halfway across the room behind the chair on her way to the bathroom, bare feet freezing against the dungeon flagstone when he spoke. "Where do you think you're going, Miss Granger?" His voice was low and smooth, and she froze.
Her back stiffened and she spoke, "Don't you really think I should be questioning you, Professor Snape?"
She couldn't see his face, but she heard a smile in his voice as he replied. "Why would you assume that?" he asked smoothly.
She bristled and marched around the chair to stand in front of him and began to tick items off on her fingers. "You're in my room, uninvited I might add. It's only half-past six. I need the loo. And you're questioning me in my own room!" Her voice grew more and more snappy with every word she spoke and Snape's smirk spread.
"Carry on then, Miss Granger." He said, gesturing toward the door that led to her bathroom as he stood. "I shall simply await your ever so charming –" he drew the word our slowly, "presence at breakfast." He left the room and shut the door, laughing silently when he heard a muffled shriek come from behind the heavy wood door. He sat down in his customary chair and summoned a house-elf, waiting.
Hermione stared at the door for a moment and then looked down at her cat, who had jumped off Snape's lap when he stood and then immediately hopped back into the chair. "Traitor." She muttered, scratching him lightly between the ears and gaining a "Mrrow?" and a smug look for her effort. She rolled her eyes at the half-kneazle and trotted off to her original destination.
Hermione emerged from the bathroom, freshly showered and now completely awake and ready to go head-to-head with her professor yet again. She dressed quickly, selecting black trousers and a crimson jumper so that the man could say nothing about the appropriateness of her attire. She cast a quick drying charm on her hair, stiffened he shoulders, and marched out into the sitting room.
She was fully prepared to lash into her professor for invading her privacy when the smell of coffee hit her nose. She closed her eyes and inhaled, missing the smirk that crossed Snape's face at the look on pleasure on hers. She padded over to the table set up between two armchairs and reached for the pot of coffee, only to pull her hand back with a snap when it met a shield that sent a mild shock up her arm.
She scowled at her professor, sure without a doubt that he was to blame for the situation. "Tut-tut Miss Granger." The man purred from where he reclined in his chair, one foot casually resting on the opposite knee. He gestured toward her chair and continued speaking. "Sit, and we can have a properly civilized breakfast after our discussion." He had to restrain a chuckle at the fierce scowl that covered the girl's face as she sat, but managed to keep his expression mildly blank.
The pair sat in silence for several long minutes before Hermione finally blurted out, "Forgive me Professor Snape, but if you don't have anything to say for yourself, I have things to do."
She made to stand up but froze when Snape spoke, a quiet but clear threat in his tone, "Sit, Miss Granger." She lowered herself slowly back into her chair and hiked one haughty brow in his direction. "You and I, Hermione," he emphasized the use of her first name, "are going to sit and have a conversation like adults, in which you will explain your concerns to me without any shrieking or stomping, if you can rein in your Gryffindor tendencies for long enough."
She sputtered but he held up a hand and continued speaking. "That being said, I'm sure the minds of those such as ourselves can come to an agreement. I have no intention of allowing a woman with the potential to become an exemplary Potions Mistress to abandon her studies for something as trivial as Arithmancy."
Hermione blinked at the unexpected compliment and then realization dawned in her eyes. "You burned my letter!" she exclaimed.
Snape regarded her rising ire calmly. "You told me to." He returned, his voice low and even.
Hermione flushed as the events of the night before began to regain clarity in her mind. "Oh." She nearly whispered. Snape smirked as he watched the girl practically deflate, embarrassment taking over. "Did you carry me back to my room?" she asked suddenly. Snape started. He hadn't expected her to be so blunt about the somewhat delicate topic, but then again, she was a Gryffindor.
"We do possess magic." He pointed out rather evasively. He hadn't lied, although he was entirely aware that an incorrect answer would be inferred from his statement. It wouldn't do at all for her to realize quite how…intimate their night had been, at least not until it would serve a suitable purpose. He watched with interest as the girl visibly relaxed, ignoring the inexplicable pang that accompanied the realization that she was glad he had not carried her.
The pair sat in silence for a few moments before Hermione spoke up again, this time quietly. "Would you rather I found another Potions Master to study with when the term ends?"
It was Snape's turn to stare. "Did I not just say I won't allow you to apprentice elsewhere?" he asked, tacking a quietly muttered "Stupid girl." onto the end of his question.
"No," Hermione disagreed softly, "you simply said I must continue in Potions. I'm afraid I must stay here until term is completed or it will just stir the gossip more, but if you would prefer I leave after, I will. Mr. Goldplum offered me an internship in the future while we were at the conference, I'm sure he would be willing to take me on."
If it were possible, Snape would have gone red. "Absolutely not!" he snapped. He stood abruptly, striding over to the fire and staring intently into the flames. The room fell quiet again. Snape wanted to curse. Their conversation so far had not gone at all how he had envisioned it and he was at a loss as to how to correct it. Behind him he heard Hermione stand and he tensed, expecting to hear a door shut as she left.
Instead he started when, a moment later, her soft voice sounded from directly behind him. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't choose another teacher after the way you've been acting about this arrangement?" she challenged, her voice low and tense.
His hands gripped the mantle, knuckles whitening and then suddenly he whirled on her. "Because you're mine damn it!" he nearly exploded. "I haven't spent the past eight years watching and teaching you with those buffoons you call friends and hoping they wouldn't ruin your brilliant mind for nothing!" Hermione stepped back, her eyes wide with shock but Snape continued. "There is a reason, Miss Granger, that you are the only student who has ever been permitted to study with me outside the confines of a Hogwarts classroom and I refuse to allow you to make a mockery of that by apprenticing with the likes of Goldplum!" He closed his eyes and breathed deep, fighting to rein in the temper that had reared its head at the threat of the girl leaving Hogwarts.
"Severus?" he heard her murmur quietly. Unwilling to see the look of horror on her face that he was sure had accompanied his outburst, he kept his eyes closed and turned back to the fire. "Severus?" she tried again, this time accompanied by a light touch to his back. "I don't want to leave," she continued quietly despite his lack of response "-but I'm not going to stay if my staying turns you back into a sullen, hateful man who only finds joy in tormenting others." He winced. Had things truly gotten bad enough that the ever-fair Gryffindor was presenting ultimatums? He turned and faced her, his face hard but his eyes glittering with an emotion Hermione couldn't place.
He stalked closer to her, causing her to step back until the back of her knees were pressed against his armchair. Then, he spoke, his voice low and silky. "Miss Granger, one might suggest that you refrain from speaking of ultimatums while alone with a dark wizard. It's not something I appreciate. Foolish women such as yourself tend to be…punished." He nearly purred the last word and Hermione flushed red as her mind was flooded with erotic images inspired by his word choice.
She sat down hard, surprised at the ease with which her mind had conjured the image of Snape turning her over his knee, his large hand landing hard on her bottom. She was even more surprised by the sudden rush of moisture between her legs that accompanied the thought. Realizing she was still staring up at the man towering above her, she quickly averted her eyes, collecting herself instead as she reached for the coffee pot.
This time her hand made connection with the handle and she spoke as she poured, relieve to hear her voice sounding level despite still feeling a bit shaken. "Very well then, I'll stay." A quickly concealed look of surprise crossed Snape's face and Hermione continued on to explain. "It's not as if I particularly want to leave Hogwarts, or the education I may receive from you. I asked for one reason and you provided it. I don't see any reason to drag this out any longer."
She took a sip of her coffee and gave the man a deceptively calm, sweet smile. He stared at her for a moment, his dark eyes inscrutable, and then simply said, "You're in my chair, Miss Granger."
"Hermione, Severus." She reminded him pertly as she hopped out of his chair and made her way back to her room, cup of coffee safely in hand.
Snape slumped into his chair, drawing a deep breath and exhaling on a heavy sigh. That had been…interesting. The encounter between himself and his apprentice had gone nothing like he had imagined it would. The girl was…infuriating, the unfortunate result of years of Gryffindor influence, no doubt. He had expected things to go easily, with him simply telling her she would stay and her meekly agreeing.
While that methodology may have been effective on a younger, more easily intimidated Hermione Granger, the witch had clearly come into her own, a fact that both disturbed and intrigued the man. Although in the end, he smirked mentally, I suppose I got exactly what I intended. The girl would be staying, and if she thought she could control his behavior with her silly little demands, she was vastly mistaken. These were his dungeons, she was his apprentice, and he would act as he pleased, just as he always had.
Musing over the events of the fast few weeks, he paused as his mind landed on the flash of interest that had crossed Hermione's face when he had mentioned punishing her for her insolence. Not at all something he would have expected from the stubborn little lioness. If she were any other witch… He shook his head harshly, snapping away from that train of thought. He would never push those kinds of boundaries a witch such as Hermione Granger, the paragon of the Light. No matter how much her new attitude demanded it.
As soon as the door shut behind Hermione, she locked it tight, knowing that it wouldn't stop her Potions Master from following her if he chose to do so, but feeling better all the same for having a barrier between them. She had been stupid to bait the man with the promise of leaving after he had so eloquently, if not slightly critically answered her question. But something had pushed her to continue, some deep seated need to see the man show any emotion toward her instead of simply choosing to neglect her existence. And while it had worked, it had triggered something more than she had expected.
Never before had she seen that depth of emotion in the man's dark eyes, not in person at least. Something similar had shown in his eyes in his Pensieve memories of Harry's mother. Not that she thought it was the same emotion, there was no reason Snape would ever look at her the same way he had Lily Potter. Whatever it had been though, had thrown her, made her loose her momentum in their discussion, and allowed him the upper hand.
She scowled, berating herself for allowing him to oh-so-smoothly manipulate her into ending their discussion. Now that she thought about it, he hadn't actually agreed to anything she had asked, he had merely made her stop asking. And then to threaten to punish her as if she were some wayward first year!
Hermione nearly snarled, starting Crookshanks out of her chair as her thighs clenched reflexively as her mind moved back to the threat of punishment. "No! I am not that kind of witch!" she muttered vehemently. She was by no means a virgin, but Hermione Granger had never engage in more than standard, vanilla sex and she like it that way. She was good at it.
She sat, scooping up her familiar and scratching his head in apology as she fought to turn her thoughts in another direction. Eventually she abandoned her thoughts altogether and picked up a book, allowing herself to become immersed in another world free of snarky Potions Masters.
Hermione was disturbed from her reading some time later, though she could not say exactly how much time had passed, by a loud knock on her door. She hesitated, curious as to who was at the door but not quite willing to confront her teacher again yet. Her curiosity was resolved a moment later when another knock sounded, this time accompanied by a voice. "Miss Granger, a matter has arisen that requires your immediate attention."
Her brows flew up and she stared at the door as if she could divine the purpose of Snape's summons. Sighing when he knocked again, she stood and walked to the door, unwilling to risk neglecting an emergency. She opened the door to reveal Severus Snape standing in her doorway, looking absolutely unruffled.
She peered at him closely, trying to discern any sense of urgency from the man and when she found none she arched an annoyed brow. "Can I help you sir?" she asked, irritation lacing her tone.
Mirroring her, he arched one dark brown and held out a tiny lavender box, a silvery C embossed on the front. "I thought perhaps you could explain this." He said smoothly.
Hermione frowned, first at the man and then at the box. Something about it seemed familiar, but she couldn't quite place it. "I'm sorry sir," she began, "I don't-"
He cut her off and moved out of the doorway so she could see into the sitting room. "Perhaps this will help?"
At that exact moment a blur of orange shot past their feet and leapt into Hermione's chair, upsetting the precariously stacked pile of lavender boxes and bags and sending them tumbling to the round. Hermione's gasp and quiet moan of embarrassment coincided with Snape's snort as it became clear to everyone in the room exactly what had been contained in the packages.
A/N: Uh-oh. Any guesses as to what was in the boxes? Also, as I've mentioned, I'm in the midst of doing some rewrites and transferring this story to Granger Enchanted, where it is posted under the same pen name. Because I'm doing this, this will be the last chapter of this story posted on FFnet until I've completed uploading the other chapters on GE. Eventually, the story will more complete on GE than it is here because, due to recent changes, I've had to make some changes about what I was going to post here. Just a heads up! Don't forget to review!