Hermione was in a bad mood. In fact, she'd been in a bad mood for weeks. For some reason she had expected things to be different at Hogwarts when she and the rest of her year had returned in order to finish their educations after the end of the war. And yet, everything had stayed the same: Hermione was still seen as the bookworm, plain and dull, only worth talking to when someone needed help with their schoolwork, simply because she didn't feel like going out and getting smashed in Hogsmeade every night. It wasn't that she didn't want to socialise, in fact she enjoyed going for a drink or two now and then, it was simply that getting horrendously drunk and then throwing up everywhere just wasn't on her list of priorities. Especially since she would probably end up being the sober one making sure her pissed friends got home safely.
Other things had remained irritatingly the same as well. The Slytherins and the Gryffindors still hated each other. Hermione had hoped that the old rivalries would have ended, now that Voldemort was gone and both the Slytherins and the Gryffindors had suffered great losses. She had had especially high hopes for Draco Malfoy whose life they had saved on numerous occasions and whom Harry had defended in court. However, he was as a big a dick as ever, prancing about with his Slytherin cronies and sending hateful looks towards the Gryffindors, especially towards Harry.
However, what was really pissing Hermione off that day was Ron who was currently sitting in the corner of the common room licking Lavender's face off, or so it seemed. It wasn't that Hermione was jealous, God no, she never wanted to be in that particular position with Ron ever again! She just hated how quickly he had moved on. Only a week ago had the two of them decided that they were never going to work and that they were better off as friends, and already he was sucking face with the first witch he could find... prick.
However, Ron's antics with Lav Lav wasn't the only problem... Harry had come out of the closet a fortnight ago, and had sat down all of his closest friends and had told them, openly and honestly, that he was gay and that he was scared of coming out, but knew that it would be OK as long as he had his friends' support and understanding. Hermione, of course, had immediately promised that she would be there for him whenever he need her, but Ron, in typical Ron fashion, had exploded, acting as if Harry had betrayed him and had been lying to him the whole time they had been friends, when in actual fact, Harry had only started realising his true sexuality recently.
In desperate need of his best friend's support, Harry had been too shocked to respond to Ron's accusations and had simply walked away. They hadn't spoken since. In the last week, Ron had been studiously ignoring Harry and had been attached to Lavender's lips too often to realise how much he was upsetting Harry. Instead, Harry had been hanging around with Hermione and Dean Thomas, who was also gay but in a committed relationship with a muggle in his home town. They all got on really well, but the atmosphere had been permanently depressing and decidedly dejected in the last few days, and Hermione was sick of it.
What, however, pissed her off the most, wasn't everyone else's perception of her, or Malfoy's attitude, or Ron being a dick or even Harry's sombre mood: her biggest problem was prowling about in the dungeons, a permanent sneer stuck on his face, his robe billowing down the corridor. Severus Snape. Hermione had fucking saved him in the shrieking shack. She didn't want his gratitude. She didn't want his friendship. In fact, she really didn't want anything from him. She had done what she would have done for any human being. But he could at least be civil to her, for fuck's sake!
Yes. She had expected a change when she returned to Hogwarts. Most of all she had expected a change in Severus Snape. He was no longer bound to Voldemort, it was no longer necessary for him to hate Gryffindors. He was an honoured war hero. There was no reason for him still to be such a prick, all of the time! At least not to her. She had saved his life, had defended him in court, describing the ways he had saved their lives over their years in Hogwarts. And yet he was being crueller to her than he had ever been before the war.
Her usual epithet "insufferable know it all" was the way he now usually addressed her in class. Without any provocation. He sneered every time she raised her hand, belittled her every time she answered a question. But the insults weren't confined to her academic prowess and "unbearable" personality any more. No, he'd now started commenting on her appearance. Every lesson there would be a new comment about her hair, every time more disparaging and hurtful than the last. Apparently, now it was so horrendous that no bird would ever willingly lay its egg in it. In fact, why wouldn't she just do the whole world a favour, and shave it off?
Hermione didn't understand. All she had ever done was help the man. Maybe his anger would have been understandable had she been mentioning it all the time, had she been boasting about her actions. However, she hadn't uttered anything of the sort. To anyone. She wasn't even sure if most of the order knew that she had saved Snape. The only person she had told was Harry, and, despite Snape's unbearable attitude towards Hermione in class, Harry had become Snape's greatest admirer and certainly wouldn't have told anyone about Hermione saving him.
It wasn't like Hermione was meekly sitting there, letting herself get insulted. Well, not at first, anyway. She had defended herself at the beginning, had called Snape up on being unfair and even unprofessional. But after the first fortnight of term, Gryffindor were so deep in the negative range of house points, her class mates had eventually persuaded Hermione to give up arguing back and just to sit back and take it. Thinking of Gryffindor. Not that she cared about house points, but she didn't want to lose even more popularity.
But perhaps there was one thing that pissed Hermione off even more than Snape's constant insults. She could hardly even admit it to herself. She didn't want to admit that despite his unpleasant sneer, despite his unending efforts to make her miserable, to belittle her, to make her feel even more unattractive than she already did, she was in love with him.