The inspiration for this fic was actually another one that I read. I asked MallowCakes if I could use her fic Once Upon a Potions Class as a springboard for one of my own, and she was nice enough to agree! (That story is awesome, btw, and I highly recommend reading it as well.)
Set post-Deathly Hallows (ignoring the epilogue, of course). It's an AU fic only because Fred and Severus have not died. I hope you enjoy it!
- o0O0o - Ginny's POV - o0O0o -
Hermione Granger might well be the most aggravating woman on the planet!
Sure, I love her to death—she's like the big sister that I never had. And we're as close as two girl friends can be.
But she still gets on my nerves sometimes.
I mean, the girl knows absolutely everything about everything….
Except her feelings.
Do you know that I had to tell her in her fourth year after the Yule Ball that she only went with Viktor Krum because she wanted to make Ron jealous? (Well, and because he was the first to ask her, but still….) I mean, come on! Even Harry knew that she and Ron were pining after each other for years! How thick can a girl get?
And then, after I knew that she had gotten over Ron—he really screwed himself over when he went out with Lavender in their sixth year despite the fact that he really wanted to be dating Hermione—she wouldn't admit that she had lost any feelings other than friendship for him. I had to give her scenarios of Ron going out with other people for weeks before she finally caved and admitted that she didn't care who he dated as long as it wasn't her (or Lavender, but I don't blame her for wanting to keep her best friend away from that bimbo).
What was the most surprising for me was discovering during their fifth year that Hermione had a crush on a certain dark Potions Master.
It took until Easter of the next year for me to get Hermione to admit it to me, but she insisted that it was just a silly, school-girl crush. I assumed that what she was telling me was true, because who could have honest-to-goodness feelings for the greasy bat of the dungeons? And so Hermione and I were both convinced that she was simply attracted to his dark nature and his intelligence (because it is Hermione that we're talking about, and no one can deny that Snape is a clever devil).
At least, we were convinced until the end of sixth year. The morning after Dumbledore's death, I woke early and went down to the common room, finding an incredibly distraught Hermione weeping on the couch. I sat next to her, questioning her with my eyes. "Dumbledore?" I had asked.
A new wave of tears and sobs wracked her being as she shook her head violently. Eventually, she was able to stammer out, "S-S-Severus!" It was then that we both realized that Hermione's feelings for the man were far deeper than either of us had wanted to admit, though I suspect that we both knew subconsciously all along. Again, it was Hermione; she never does anything half-way. I held her for over an hour while she sobbed, intermittently explaining why and how she had fallen for him. Her biggest turn-ons (though she hadn't described them that way herself) were his intelligence, his dark wit, and (surprisingly) his teaching style. ("I know he seems tough, but his methods force us to learn," she'd insisted. "Even Neville, who messes up all the time, manages to do well on his homework and pass the term exams!") When the boys came down and noted her severely-emotional state with concern, I simply said, "Last night…." I knew they would misunderstand, and I let them draw their own conclusions.
The school year that followed was Hades for me. Every time I saw Snape, I was a mess, torn between fury at his actions and pain for the betrayal that my best girl friend felt at knowing—or so we thought—that Snape had betrayed us all. For the most part, my actions with the DA were driven by a desire to oust Voldemort, but my issues with the idiotic, cruel, and deceitful Headmaster fueled my fury and my courage. I had a personal vendetta against the man, and it kept me going. I had to avenge Hermione even if Snape didn't know what he had done to her.
Imagine my surprise when we learned of his innocence. For two days, Hermione would come to me at random moments and break down in my arms for an entirely different reason—he had not betrayed us, she had doubted him, and…she thought he had died without being able to tell him that she loved him.
Then, on the third day, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were summoned to St. Mungo's. Harry requested that I be permitted to go along, as we were currently spending as little time separated as possible, and the security at the hospital granted the request simply because it was The Boy Who Lived Again asking for the allowance.
When we'd been led into the private ward and seen the Potions Master lying, unconscious but very alive, on the bed, Hermione turned to me with wonder and relief on her face, collapsing in my arms, releasing even more tears over the man, this time in relief. The boys didn't understand her reaction, but they were busy marveling at the fact that Snape had survived, even when they had seen him lose all that blood…. So they didn't pay either of us much attention during the short span of time we were in the ward at the hospital.
Over the summer, Hermione and I discussed the man quite often. She informed me about halfway through the summer that, while her feelings had been legitimate before, she now had several more reasons to love him: he was selfless, dedicated, courageous, and unfailingly loyal.
All those who would have been at Hogwarts the previous year were encouraged to come back and repeat that school year, as no one had learned much even if they had been in attendance. All of the students who would have been seventh years that hadn't perished in the war were returning. And Snape would be returning to his post as professor of Potions, under McGonagall as Headmistress. Hermione was, naturally, a little distressed over this news, as she didn't know how to act around the man anymore, knowing how her feelings had progressed.
During our talks that summer, we deduced that, while Hermione wouldn't technically be wrong to say that she loved Severus Snape, it certainly wasn't a very deep love; they hadn't spent any time together, after all, and the last time they actually had spoken was more than a year previous. And while she expected that, given the chance, her feelings for him could grow in both depth and passion, she didn't expect that the opportunity would ever arise. He was, after all, her teacher, nearly twenty years her senior, and, according to the memories he had given Harry before he "died," still deeply in love with a woman who had died almost seventeen years previous (not to mention that said woman had given birth to Hermione's best friend).
About a week before we would get on the Hogwarts Express, Hermione and I wandered down a street in Diagon Alley, enjoying some girl-time while window shopping. Spotting a quaint-looking book shop and knowing that Hermione would want to head inside, I stopped her with a hand on her arm and led her in.
We wandered aimlessly among the shelves, looking at covers that caught our eye as we chatted…about Professor Snape, of course.
Hermione sighed for what felt like the hundredth time that day. "I just don't know, Gin." I didn't respond, knowing that she'd clarify. "How do I act around him? I'm still technically a student, but before three weeks of school are gone, I'll have already turned nineteen! If I'm honest with myself, I could take my NEWTs now and be done, but I want to enjoy my last year of school. I still don't know what I want to do with my life, either, though…if I could manage to convince him, I'd love for Severus to take me on as an apprentice, either during this school year or after I take my NEWTs."
I smiled brightly at her. "That's a great idea, Herms! You've always had a love of the subject, which I didn't really understand before as it seemed to be where you struggled the most, but I suppose that's why you love it so much. You're the type of woman who likes a challenge." After a moment, I laughed a little and said, "That must be why you're in love with Snape!"
Hermione rolled her eyes but chuckled just the same. I looked away from her face to the books in front of me. We had made our way to the children's section while we bantered. Just at eye level for me was a very eye-catching book with a lengthy title. I pulled it down and read the front cover: Muggle Children's Entertainment: Bible Stories, Greek Myths, and Fairy Tales.
Interested, I showed Hermione the book. We held it between us while she opened it to the table of contents. "These are stories that I read and watched when I was little," Hermione explained. "My mum and dad aren't very religious, but my mum's parents are, and they read Bible stories to me a lot. I have read some of the fairy tales and all of the Greek myths that are listed, and the rest of the fairy tales I've watched. You remember me telling you about movies and the telly?" she asked me.
I nodded. "Like a play that you watch in a little box, right?"
Hermione giggled and said, "Something like that. I'll have to show you some time. Anyway, these were the stories I heard as a child. Some of these aren't as popular, but most you could compare to the Beedle the Bard stories for wizard children."
I was fascinated, and Hermione, as a present for me, insisted on buying me the book.
The last stop we made that day was Fred and George's shop. Fred whisked Hermione away nearly as soon as we entered, wanting to employ her Charms expertise in a product issue that the twins had been trying to solve for several weeks. George and I visited while they were busy in the back room.
With a somewhat concerned look, George said, "What's bothering you, Gin? You keep looking at the door to the back room with a weird look on your face."
I grimaced slightly; it wasn't my secret to tell, but George was incredibly perceptive, and I knew I wouldn't be able to lie. "It's Hermione. She's….There's this bloke…."
Revelation dawned on my brother's face. "Ah. Say no more. Is it one-sided, then?"
I shrugged at him. "She's too afraid to do anything about it, and this particular bloke….Let's just say that if someone else doesn't do something about it, there's no way in Hades that he'd ever tell how he felt, one way or the other."
Nodding slightly, George's eyes glazed over in thought. After a moment, his eyes alighted on the book I was clutching. When he asked about it and I had explained, George's eyes got the mischievous glint that I could never decide boded well or ill. He asked if there were any romance stories in it. I thought back to the little Hermione had told me about the stories inside. "I think so. Why do you ask?"
George pulled me back behind the counter and through another door, into a stock room of sorts. He pulled a jar of clear, burnt-orange liquid down from a shelf. Smiling devilishly, he said, "This is one of the main ingredients in our Daydream Creams. They work better than the charms because you can add something of your own element to them. This potion is the one that creates a situation based on what you put into it. Fred and I might be able to adapt it to fit those stories of yours, maybe even put a timed-release spell into it that will set off the affects at a specific moment. If Fred and I can get the formula right and you can add a small piece of the book—the corner of a page should do just fine—and get both Hermione and her bloke to drink some of the potion, I think we could get them…trapped?...in the book. They'd have to play out the characters in each story. If the romance in any of those stories is in any way realistic, they should have no problems confessing their attraction for each other when they get through the book."
I was torn between strangling and hugging my brother. Clever little idiot might just be onto something, I thought. "George, you are either really smart or really stupid."
"Or both," he offered, eyes sparkling. I decided that this was the perfect plan; Snape and Hermione would have a chance at getting together, Fred and George would have a project to work on that would challenge and intrigue them, and I would have the satisfaction of making the lives of at least four people that much more interesting and happy. It was a win-win-win-win-win situation.
"Get right on it, George," I said, smiling warmly at him. "If I can give Hermione the love of her life for Christmas, I might just be getting favors from my best friend for the rest of my life!" I jokingly added. George and I left the back room laughing, both of us feeling mischievous and light-hearted. Hermione spotted us and narrowed her eyes.
"What are you two up to?" she asked suspiciously.
I looked at George, feigning surprise. "What do you mean? We're not up to anything. Well, I guess I should only speak for myself. George is always up to something."
Hermione didn't look convinced, but she dropped it.
I had been excited for school before, but now I was beyond ecstatic. What a year awaited my friends and me!