This was prompted by scumblackentropy, who requested the quote from American Beauty. Said quote was then fiddled with a little and translated into Britglish as I get a bit fussy about a Snape what speaks Americano. I should warn you that this is completely unbetaed.

The M is for the use of one naughty word and one brief naughty situation.

Mancunian Ugly

by anoesis

He wasn't given the least bit of warning. One day she was simply there, sitting across from him in the busy canteen, her impossible hair already coming loose from its careful knot.

Hermione Granger.

It was inevitable, he supposed, that she would turn up at the Ministry. The only other employer capable of sustaining her relentless need for approval and advancement was Hogwarts, and there was no position there for her to fill. Still, it didn't make it any less unsettling to suddenly find her invading his personal space.

"Hello, Professor." She smiled.

"Miss Granger." She only had a cup of grey cafeteria coffee in front of her and, now that he studied her, her face was curiously grey too.

"It's my first day," she confided. "I'm not very good with first days. I can never eat anything, and usually have a headache by three o'clock." As if to prove her point she pulled some sandwiches from her bag, tightly wrapped in clingfilm, placed them on the table, then proceeded to ignore them as she sipped her coffee and let her gaze travel round the crowded hall.

She was there again on Monday, picking at a cafeteria salad. There was slightly more colour in her cheeks, but she was still blissfully quiet, her eyes darting around the crowded hall. Her plain black robes gave no hint at which department she had landed in and were practically identical to her Hogwarts uniform. She looked like a little girl, her eyes over-large in her gaunt face. A little girl, suddenly set adrift in the adult world.

He studied her uneasily in his peripheral vision, wondering if he ought to make some attempt to discourage her, before deciding against it. She'd shown no desire to speak to him, other than to wish him a quiet good afternoon, and evinced no sign of it now. Hermione Granger with something to say was impossible to misread, there was too much earnest desire on her face, too much badly restrained urgency about her for that. The dismal creature in front of him showed absolutely no interest in engaging him.

No, Hermione Granger was not there because she wanted to be near him. She was too scared to sit anywhere else. She wanted the shield of his unpopularity. She didn't seek friendship from him, just the silent company of his misery.

Once she made friends she would swiftly move away.

Yet Miss Granger didn't make any friends. Overheard gossip informed him that she was excelling in her role, making several of her immediate superiors decidedly uncomfortable. She was confident and forthright, apparently. When it came to the welfare of Creatures of Near Human Intelligence, she was a dynamo of indignant, determined altruism. She was making waves, apparently. Yet, socially, she remained as inept as before.

Snape watched her more openly now that he knew she rarely glanced back.

She had learnt everyone's names – and that really did mean everyone, including the tiny, shrivelled witch that came twice a month to clean the brass name plates – and greeted everyone with the same precise level of pleasant politeness.

Snape thought he might hate her.

She was there again.

Lunch time had always been the one part of the day when he could be certain that no one would interrupt him. Although his consulting role with the Aurory was hardly demanding, there were still files dropped on his desk at all hours of the day and people determined to 'have a quick word' just when he most wanted some peace and quiet.

To say that he hated his job would have been melodramatic, but he had only been given the position as a way of shutting Potter up and the entire department knew it.

Lunch times had always been his. A full hour in which everyone knew not to speak with him.

Everyone seemed know, except her.

"Good afternoon."

Every bloody day without fail.

She began to encroach on him at other times, too, until she was bloody everywhere. Her name would be mentioned in the office. Her handwriting would appear on memos. Once, when he had been taking advantage of his colleagues' natural disinclination to care where he was when not at his desk, her face had swum before his eyes in the privacy of the men's toilets. He'd been engaged in a sneaky tug on his cock at the time, and the image of her determined face with its pointy chin arriving unexpectedly at crucial moment had been disconcerting to say the least.

Once Snape had made up his mind, he was generally implacable. He wouldn't go as far as to say that his legendary, stoic sacrifices made during the war had been largely due to relentless bloody mindedness on his behalf, but that had been a certain determination to prove a point.

As such, he allowed himself a good ten minutes consideration before deciding that Hermione Granger needed to be removed from his life. It may have been pathetic to admit, but the daily half hour he spent in her silent company now made up the bulk of his assembled social interactions and her quiet, polite greetings were the closest thing he had to actual conversations outside of the office.

He had become accustomed to her presence. Soon he would be expecting to see her. Snape did not like to rely on people. He not did he encourage people to rely on him.

Not since the last time.

There was ink on the tip of her nose. A nose that was almost buried in the pile of paperwork she had brought to the table. Snape was half hoping that the stack of paper might infringe upon his side of the table, giving his an excuse to rail against her, but the piles remained as tidy as she appeared dishevelled.

He cleared his throat.

When there was no response, he cleared it again.

"You don't want to sit with me."

She looked up, confused. "I'm sorry? Did you say something?" There was ink at the neck of her robes as well. Just the slightest smear.

"You don't want to sit with me," he repeated, his voice low. "It's making the wrong impression."

Her ridiculously young face scrunched up in a frown. "Do you want me to move?"

"Yes," Snape replied. "I liked sitting by myself."

"Oh," she replied, glancing around the hall. "But I don't know anyone else."

"You don't know me," he insisted. "And, if you intend on making a career for yourself in this fetid pit, that you don't want people thinking that you do."

It was, he realised, perhaps the first time he had ever spoken with her. Oh, he'd talked at her plenty of times when she had been a student, and she had been fairly determined to make him listen to her on numerous occasions, but this was the first time he could remember conversing with her.

"I don't know you," she agreed after much consideration. "But I have no compunction about people thinking that I do. And you don't really feel that way about the Ministry. You wouldn't be here if you did."

Snape sat back in his seat. He'd forgotten about the misty eyed idealism her ilk possessed. The utter refusal to accept reality. Albus Dumbledore had an awful lot to answer for when it came to her generation.

"You really think I had a choice?" he spluttered. "That I would choose to work bang smack in the middle of the Aurory?"

"Well, yes," she answered. "Your job must be completely fascinating!"

"My job," he hissed, "basically consists of masking my contempt for the incompetents in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the gents' so I can indulge in a miserable wank while I fantasise about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell."

Snape hadn't meant to be quite so honest, but there was something so goading about her serious face. He could think of no better way to be rid of her thorn-like presence than to offend her dainty sensibilities. Perhaps she was slow on the update, for she didn't even seem taken aback.

If anything, she looked almost intrigued.

"What," he pushed, intending to shock. "Never indulged yourself at work?"

Surely that would be crude enough for her to excuse herself? He watched her, waiting for that first wrinkle of distaste to form between her eyebrows. She looked back with her overly big eyes in her earnest little face.

"I only have a half hour lunch," she replied after consideration. "I don't think I'd have time for that and a sandwich."

Severus stared at her for a full thirty seconds before he threw back his head and roared with laughter.

By the time he had his breathing under control, almost everyone in the canteen were watching openly and Granger's reputation was effectively ruined. She didn't appear to be particularly upset.

"Does this mean I can sit here tomorrow?" she asked.


This was originally posted as an Advent Calendar challenge I set myself on LJ. Anyone interested in reading more can find the link on my profile page (as long as the links are working – if not, just head to livejournal and search for of_anoesis)

The original quote as provided by scumbles: "My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the men's room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell."

I should probably point out that I own neither Harry Potter or American Beauty.