The girl's answer was correct; as always.

The Professor's additional remarks which followed the usual, "That is correct, Miss Granger," were condescending and cutting; as always.

Snape watched as Hermione's body folded into itself while he continued to pin her with his stare. Her eyes downturned, her face swiftly became obscured by wild hair—as constant in its vast tangle of unruliness as Snape's own was lank and dull—as she bowed her head. She slumped down on her appointed chair under the Potion Master's glare to such a degree the wizard marveled that her form, by its angle and gravity's assistance, did not disappear from sight entirely to puddle on the dungeon floor.

One would think the girl would stop raising that hand of hers when he presented the class with a question. But regardless of Snape's persistent ensuing biting words, icy glares and/or the occasional dismissive grunt in the affirmative to her eager answers her hand continued to fly skyward unerringly and without hesitation.

It galled Severus to admit, if only to himself, that Hermione was indisputably a wonder of a witch although she was yet only an adolescent. At the rate she readily consumed everything her instructors threw at her alongside everything he knew her to seek out and delve into on her own by adulthood she would be nothing less than utterly brilliant. He hated the knowledge she would be his equal much sooner than he would have been had their roles been reversed.

At the insidious thought of roles being reversed Snape felt a scowl greater than the one he'd already worn for Miss Grangers benefit assert itself on his face.

As much as it galled him to acknowledge Hermione Grangers abilities as a witch it nearly killed him to admit—again if only to himself—that if she were the professor at Hogwarts and he was the student, whatever the subject (save Muggle Studies), he would have respected her greatly. Had he not gleaned all that he knew from the same tireless toil? Had he not been driven by the same endless hunger to simply know more? And had he not continued to toil and hunger regardless of the heckling remarks and looks of mocking, eye-rolling amusement by his peers at his expense? In bile-inducing-truth, if she were the teacher; proficiently able as such due to her relentless pursuit of knowledge, and Severus were the pupil; constantly thrusting his hand into the air—the answer she'd requested burning on his tongue, he probably would have been disgustingly besotted with her.

Snape pulled his now darkening gaze from what was left to be seen of Hermione Granger. Barely perceptible wisps of brown hair were all that remained to look upon in the space where Hermione's face had retreated from moments before (due to her obscene tresses becoming an even greater mass in the dampness of his classroom). He turned, suppressing a growl of discontent.

Hermione's eyes, glassy and yearning for his approval, lifted and followed his silent steps.