Dismantling the Cage

Summary: A research project becomes the foundation for a meeting of clashing minds. Hermione Granger and Severus Snape join forces not only to quench their thirst for knowledge, but also to reform wizarding conventions and defeat the Dark Lord. A tale of wizards and a Muggleborn. AU after 5th

Genre: Drama & Romance

Pairing: Hermione Granger/Severus Snape

Rating: M


Prologue

Hermione stood there, arm raised, frozen inches from the door, fingers curled into a fist. Her palm was sweating, the bag slung over her shoulder seemed to drag her down, and her knees couldn't decide if they wanted to lock in place or collapse. What she was about to do must be the most frightening thing in her life. Her mind supplied an image of her boggart shouting that she had failed. This situation was definitely worse than that, she decided, and her new boggart would most likely be a combination of that and this, her failure to face down Snape. Failure.

She needed to succeed.

She started to doubt herself and the validity of the idea. She could find another way to advance her research. There was no reason why she had to suffer Snape and for Snape to suffer her. But then, she remembered that there was no alternative. Moaning Myrtle's bathroom and dusty abandoned classrooms were certainly not ideal places to brew potions. And this was much bigger than just herself.

Hermione braced herself. She could feel her face paling and her heart racing. She was going to do it. Now...

And then she spun around to flee. She could retreat and regroup and try again; perseverance was a Griffindor trait. She could go back and put together a better approach again; being prepared was a Hermione trait. She would face this door tomorrow once she formed an even better game plan. Again.

Sighing, she turned back around to face the door. Third time is the charm, she thought to herself. This time, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. I have one chance, and I must not fail. As her shoulders straightened, she snapped open her eyes and raised her arm. This was it. Her fist rushed down to hit the door.

Suddenly the door was missing, flung open, and Professor Snape was standing there in all his black billowing robes and sneering glory.

"Miss Granger! What do you think you are doing?" He barked.

Hermione jumped and couldn't suppress a tiny squeak.

"Sir. I'm here to see you," She managed to choke out. All her intelligence and planning had abandoned her.

All she could think was failure.

"I can see that," Snape said icily. "Why have you been standing in front of my door for the last twenty minutes? Yesterday, as well, and the day before."

Hermione took a shallow, stuttered breath and quickly reassembled what was left of her brain. A tiny, tiny corner of her mind wondered how he knew, but that notion disappeared as she took another glance at Snape.

"I'm here to ask whether I could use the potions classroom for independent study," The words tumbled out, "…sir." She managed to sound more coherent than she had expected.

"What?"

"I would like your permission to use the classroom to further my study of potions. I am looking for a contained area. A stable, undisturbed work space. And access to tools. Just a small corner after classes for a short while. I won't disturb you and I'll keep it clean."

"Miss Granger!" Snape cut her short. "Cease your babbling."

"Yes, sir..."

"Enter," He snarled and turned around.

Hermione followed him into the classroom to awkwardly stand in front of his desk, looking everywhere except at Snape as he sat down. She shifted nervously as he glared.

"You are saying that you want to spend more time in this classroom, to irritate me further with your insufferable presence, and to waste my time just so you can further prove you are a know-it-all?"

Hermione opened her mouth to retort but snapped it shut at Snape's cutting glare and lowered her eyes mutely. The textured floor of the dungeons was beginning to look quite fascinating.

Failure.

The silence dragged on. And on. She didn't dare to look up. She could imagine his scowling face, his sharp black eyes staring down over his hooked nose even though his head was at a lower position than hers. Hermione's fingers began to twitch. Her calf began to itch. Even her hair felt like it was frizzing. She couldn't tell how long she had been standing there in the silence. Was Snape still even there?

She finally gathered enough courage to slowly raise her head.

"Very well. I want a proposal on my desk by Monday."

Hermione snapped up her head and gaped."Sir?"

"Don't make me repeat myself," Snape bit out. "Your report will determine my verdict. It better not be a waste of my time. Now get out of my sight!"

Hermione took a moment to collect herself and fled the room.

Success.


A/N: It's my first time writing. What do you think?

Sat, Jan 14, 2012