A/N: Hello all! Welcome to my Hermione and Snape fanfic. I know there's about ten million out there already (actually, 3,743 at last search), but I thought I'd clog up the internet with my own variation on what might have been…

In my HP universe, none of the events of the Deathly Hallows or previous books have changed, except that Snape survived. As always, I own nothing except the computer this was written on. All else is the property of the wonderful and Nobel-prize-worthy JK Rowling.

CHAPTER ONE

Looking out into the rain, Hermione drew her cardigan closer to her body as the Hogwarts Express rocked gently on the tracks. Her eyes searched for something familiar in the fields outside, but she found nothing looked that same as it had two years ago. Rolling green meadows that once seemed to breathe energy and life now seemed empty and forgotten. The trees were dark and wild, thrashing in the gentle wind that buffeted the train every so often. Hermione wondered if it were her imagination, or if nature itself had really been tainted by the war.

"Hungry?" A voice beside her asked.

Hermione turned to look at the red-headed witch beside her, who was half-raised off the seat as she delved into the pockets of her jeans. Ginny watched her with brows raised questioningly.

With a lopsided smile, Hermione shook her head. "No, thanks. I've already eaten."

"Suit yourself," Ginny said, getting up to leave the compartment, which was mercifully empty of other students. "If you change your mind, send me a text." And then, grinning, the girl wandered out into the corridor.

The smile dropped from her face as soon as she was alone, but Hermione couldn't help but be amused by Ginny's obsession with her phone. It wouldn't work the second they reached the grounds of Hogwarts, but this piece of Muggle technology was a gift rarely afforded to a Weasley, and it had Ginny in raptures. Her father happened across it months ago, and had spent a lot of time asking Hermione how it worked. Though usually happy to talk with Mr. Weasley about Muggle artifacts, she found that she lacked the patience to talk about anything at length with anyone any more. Not even with Ron or Harry, both of whom were suffering in their own way since the end of the war.

Sighing, she looked out the window again, not seeing anything in particular. Her mind jumped to the last time she had seen Ron, over a month ago. As always, he was subdued and unresponsive, no matter how she tried to coax him out of his self-imposed shell of depression. Fred's death had hit him hard, almost more than any of the other Weasley children. She wasn't sure what had caused his sudden lack of interest in the world, but these days the most she could get from was a half-hearted smile as she recounted tales from their first year at Hogwarts. Simplier, easier times that back then seemed so impossible. But none of them were the same anymore, not really. The war had changed everything, and everyone. It had certainly changed how she felt about Ron.

For the first few months after the battle at Hogwarts, and after all the funerals were over with, they had tried to rekindle their former flame to no avail. Even sex, which only a year ago seemed like such an exciting adventure, soon became depressing. No matter what they did, their love-making had always ended the same way: with Ron crying softly into his pillow as she lay beside him, hating him for his weakness and at the same time envying him that he felt anything at all. Most of the time, she felt as empty as the meadow. Hermione hoped that would change when she returned to Hogwarts.

When she told Harry and Ron almost two months ago that she planned to finish her seventh year, they assumed it was because the old Hermione was back, and that she needed to study, to learn and to put as much of herself into her education as she could. She let them think that. Why she was really returning comprised of too many things, but mostly she wanted to find something that made her feel alive again, of some way to find a release for the painful memories that ate away at her soul. Learning had always done that in the past, and she hoped it would again before she became a black hole. That, and she really needed to get away from Ron before she lost all affection for him completely. It was easy to remember times when he had been sweet and goofy, with that unconventional charm that made her fantasise about her future life with him, but it was much easier to remember those times when he wasn't around. And since her parents remained in Australia, she had nowhere to live but with her boyfriend's parents. The problem with that was that her boyfriend lived there, too. And she'd had to get away.

The compartment door slid open, startling her from her reverie.

"I'm back," Ginny announced as she flopped onto her seat, hands laden with all kinds of candies.

"You and half the trolley," Hermione said, grinning at the food.

"I know, it's a bit much. But honestly, when will I have this much sugar again?"

"Next Hogsmeade trip, I would guess."

"And who knows when that will be," Ginny murmured to herself, unwrapping a chocolate frog. "I wonder if I should send the card back to Ron. He still collects them, you know."

Hermione snorted, though not amused. "Yes, I know. All stacked together, they're the closest thing his room has to a book."

"Well, we can't all love the written word as much as you. I think I will keep them. I don't think he has Flagius the Flatulent."

Hermione looked back out the window while Ginny chattered on about who else was on the train and what they'd been doing since the war ended. The school had been closed a full year for repairs, and apparently the teenage witches and wizards went on quite the spree in their time off. Not wanting to offend her, Hermione smiled at Ginny and listened to her talk, though she didn't particularly care about what anyone else did.

To be honest, she didn't particularly care about anything anymore.

A bit short, I know, but it's just an intro chapter. Please review if you liked it, or even if you didn't! All comments are appreciated, unless they're on something completely unrelated, like cheese. Please don't comment about cheese.