A/N: Hello, lovely readers! 'Tis I, with yet another little piece about our favorite couple. This WAS going to be just a two- or threeshot, but I've since decided I'm taking it the full on multichaptered route. I have wayyy too many ideas for it.

I do not own Harry Potter, or any of JKR's characters. I do own young Mr. Petersen, whose future role in the story I am now deciding.

How is this tale going to differ from other SS/HG fics I have written? Well, in this one, Hermione is not a student. I usually prefer writing the student/teacher relationship, but I must say, it is refreshing not to have to put up warning after warning after warning! Also, this is going to be a funny fic throughout. This means that even once this delicious couple ends up in the sack, against the wall, or wherever I put them, concupiscence will take a back seat to humor. Why? Because I like to experiment with my writing and stretch my boundaries.

I do hope you enjoy, and please don't forget to hit that itty bitty review button! ;)

Hermione Granger, newly minted graduate of the Salem Institute of Higher Learning, and brand new Professor of Transfiguration at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was nonplussed.

She stared. Blinked repeatedly. Stared again. She thought briefly that perhaps her recent Lasik eye surgery was tampering with her vision again, but she dismissed the possibility. True, she was still suffering from some of the typical after-effects of the Muggle eye surgery – her parents had insisted she rely on what they called "the tried and true way", rather than some frightening sounding magical alternative – but they were limited to halos around lights at night, and an occasional fleeting blurriness. Lasik, which she had gotten to correct the havoc her constant reading and studying had begun to wreak upon her eyes post-Hogwarts, had never caused something like an altered appearance of reality.

Because since when had Severus Snape, reinstated Bat of the Dungeons after the Battle of Hogwarts five years prior, looked like this? Granted, the last time she had seen him had been several weeks after he had been found in a coma in the Shrieking Shack, and as such, he had hardly been at his best, but this...this was just...

Minerva McGonagall, current Headmistress and Hermione's beloved mentor, cleared her throat.

"Are you quite all right, dear?" She was looking at Hermione strangely. "Before you arrived here for our meeting, I was just telling Severus that I wanted to speak with both of you before the start of term. Seeing as your respective areas of expertise are largely interdependent, I feel that the syllabi should be edited to reflect that. Do you agree?"

Hermione gulped for air like a fish. The content of the so far one-sided conversation was evading her, and she decided to ignore Minerva for the moment, in favor of focusing further on Sexerus...er, Severus Snape.

Sexerus Snape was more appropriate, although she supposed that was a somewhat odd name. No odder than Severus, however.

She was aware, even in her own head, that she was rambling, and therefore wisely kept her mouth shut when the recipient of her disbelieving stare proceeded to snap at her.

"Sometime this year would be nice, Miss Granger." The sneer that curled his lip somehow failed to make him look pinched and nasty as it had during her school years, and instead added nobility to the aristocratic planes of his face.

He was sitting indolently in a hard backed chair in front of the Headmistress' desk, and his lazy posture showcased his toned long limbs to best advantage. The ankle of one lanky leg was propped up on the opposite knee, in typical male fashion – oh, Merlin, I never realized Snape was a man! screamed her brain – and his white cotton shirt, currently unbuttoned to the third button, strained across his broad chest while simultaneously revealing a small thatch of curling dark hair.

It wasn't just all that, though. If that were the extent of the difference, he could still have been the Snape she knew, merely sitting in good lighting, his face less lined from stress, and showing a surprisingly fit physique beneath his usual dramatic teaching robes. Her shock at his appearance was more due to the fact that his actual features seemed different. His teeth were straight, for one thing. She had noticed that when he sneered. They were no longer the yellow, jagged pegs which would have inspired horror in both her parents, and caused them to hustle him into the nearest dentist's chair post-haste.

Minerva, confused as she was at this inexplicable reaction to seeing same-old nothing-special Snape, nonetheless seemed to realize that Hermione was too stunned to do much of anything at the moment, and delicately conjured a chair, the plump seat of which was upholstered wonderfully in violet satin. This confection she slid forward delicately, indicating to Hermione that she should sit, and Hermione gratefully sank into the chair.

"Your Transfiguration abilities are still second to none, Headmistress," Hermione croaked. Yes, her voice sounded somewhat strange, but she still congratulated herself on formulating and delivering a coherent sentence.

"Yes, well, I may have had to give up the Transfiguration position due to being Headmistress, but I am not quite in my dotage yet," said the older woman briskly, favoring Hermione with a fond smile which quickly gave way to a questioning look.

"Do you need to see Madam Pomfrey, dear? You were very pale a moment ago, but now your entire face is flushed. Perhaps you are running a fever? I heard recently that several Hogsmeade residents have come down with the Wizarding flu. I do hope you haven't caught it."

Minerva decided she was simply intimidated by being in Severus' presence. The young girl hadn't seen him in a long time, after all, and perhaps she had forgotten how crotchety he could be. Maybe she had even expected him to behave somewhat differently, now that she was on staff. (Here, Minerva chortled to herself. If she thought that, she was in for a rude surprise. Severus may have been a war hero who was now lauded by the entire Wizarding world, as well he should be, but he still had the personality of an over-used Brillo sponge, and the charitable qualities of a horse that had just been kicked repeatedly in the balls.)

Severus was huffing impatiently in a way that indicated he didn't much care if Hermione had caught the Wizarding flu, dragon mumps, or even house-elf rubella.

"I'm a busy man, Minerva," he said grouchily, crossing and uncrossing his legs.

Minerva tore her concerned gaze from Hermione long enough to look at him shrewdly.

"And just what do you have going on, Severus? It is still the summer holiday, after all." She looked sternly down on him from her standing position behind her desk.

"There are potions...in my office... must work on my syllabus..." He waved his hands about vaguely, as though to illustrate the wide variety of very important projects to which he must immediately return. He trailed off somewhat lamely at the expression on her face.

"Denied," Minerva said tartly. "Your projects can wait, and you know it. You will stay."

The 42 year old Potions Master slumped back in his chair like a chastened little boy, glaring up at Minerva balefully.

Despite her current state of confusion, this little exchange was too much for Hermione, and a choked sound emanated from her throat.

As both of them turned to look at her, she just managed to turn the giggle into a cough, which fooled Minerva, but not Severus. Of course.

"Amused, Miss Granger?" He wrinkled his nose at her as though she were something interesting he had found on the sole of his boot after a nice long trek through a swamp.

"Professor Granger," she managed, wondering why he had never tied his hair back like that before. It had grown even longer, and it now hung almost to his shoulder blades. He had secured it into a ponytail at the base of his neck, and only a few strands had escaped around his forehead and temples. She would never have thought it, but it suited him magnificently. It set off his nose.

Did his nose look different? She decided she was not imagining it–it definitely seemed less bulbous. Had he gotten a nose job? What had happened to the man she knew? Who was this person with Brad Pitt's Interview with a Vampire hair, Gerard Butler's body in...well, any of his movies–she hoped Snape's abs continued the trend currently being set by his muscular arms and shoulders–and the overall inexplicable allure of Tim Roth? (Hermione had an addiction to Muggle movies, which was not surprising, seeing as she was Muggle-born, and she sometimes reverted to the habit she had developed in her early teens of using movie characters and actors as a basis of comparison for people she observed in real life. She had also never quite understood Tim Roth's appeal. She had always been somewhat ashamed of herself for thinking him sexy, and now Tim Roth's profile was sitting right in front of her. No wonder she was alarmed.)

The sneer that once again graced Snape's face as she inadvertently studied him drew her attention downward, to his mouth. She remembered his lips as being somewhat thin–not that she had ever noticed them much, other than as portals for the venomous words he spewed in every Potions class. Now they were...sensuous. Keanu Reeves-esque.

Professor Snape has a sexy mouth.

She choked again, but this time it wasn't on laughter. It was on shock. She hadn't even known one could choke on shock. Laughter, yes, but not a single literary character about whom she had ever read had choked on shock. She supposed she was the first.

"Minerva, it appears that Professor Granger" - he emphasized the title in deliberate mockery of her - "is incapable of contributing to this oh-so-important conversation" - here he sneered at Minerva - "at the present time." He held his arms out to his sides as if to beseech the Headmistress to conclude the meeting.

By this time, Minerva had concluded that Hermione must be coming down with a particularly virulent case of the flu. That flush was a telltale sign of a high fever, and the last thing she needed was one of her teachers becoming incapacitated right before the start of term.

"Hermione, I do believe you should go to the hospital wing and be examined," she said kindly, ignoring the muffled sounds of annoyance coming from Severus.

"I-I'm fine," she stammered, pulling herself together with a mighty effort. Whatever was going on–whatever madness this was–she'd address it with the Headmistress later. Merlin knew she wasn't going to ask Snape the name of his plastic surgeon, personal trainer, tailor, hairdresser, dentist, and dermatologist.

A new thought entered her mind: maybe the Headmistress was deliberately ignoring her confusion at Severus' new appearance in order to goad her into asking about it. That didn't really seem like her, but why else would she be acting as though she had no idea why Hermione was so confused? Any ex-student of Snape's would be stunned at this extreme makeover. (Hermione made a mental note to get her hands on a before shot, take an after shot, and turn it into the show.) Besides, what did she really know about Minerva's true character behind closed doors? Who knew what kind of mischievous nature she might have been hiding behind her professional demeanor all this time? After all, Snape had just morphed into Aragorn (thankfully, sans facial hair). Clearly, she had a lot to learn about her old teachers.

"Let's continue the meeting," she said. As long as she didn't look over at Sexerus, she would be able to concentrate.

This proved to be a good strategy, and for the next hour and a half, the three Hogwarts Professors bent over notes, textbook lists, and previous years' syllabi in an effort to design the strongest Transfiguration and Potions curriculum the school had ever seen. Hermione was able to draw on her passion for her subject to block out her current bewildered state of mind, and Severus' near-civility in the interests of academic cooperation meant that she was not forced to glare at him repeatedly, and therefore was spared the disconcerting experience of having to look at the shiny new Potions Master over and over again. She concentrated solely on the papers in front of her and on Minerva's face. Severus she addressed by pointing her ear in his general direction to indicate that she was, in fact, cordially listening for his responses to her questions and observations.

Towards the close of the meeting, the shuffling of papers and the muted murmur of the trio's conversation was interrupted by a staccato knock at the office door.

"Come in," Minerva said, tapping a stack of papers on her desk to even out the edges.

Hagrid's matted mass of hair peeked around the doorjamb even before Hermione could make out his face, and she smiled widely. She hadn't had the opportunity to see the half-giant much during her years at university, and was looking forward to being able to visit him regularly again.

When he saw her, his pleased expression mirrored her own.

"Hermione! Been much too long since I've seen yeh! And look at yeh now–a Hogwarts Professor. I hope yeh'll still be visitin' me? I'll be makin' summat special for yeh in the way of rock cakes, o' course." Here he looked at her hopefully.

"Of course-!" she began to echo, but was interrupted by Snape's cough.

"Hagrid, we're rather busy at the moment, if you don't mind," he said pointedly, back in full snark mode.

"Actually, Hagrid" - here Minerva gave Snape a remonstrative look - "we were just wrapping things up. What can I do for you?"

"Jus' comin' by with young Mr. Petersen, as per yeh're request, Headmistress." At this point, another head peered around the door. Hagrid being so tall, the blond curls of the young boy–third or fourth year, by the looks of him–only came up to the gamekeeper's belted waist.

"Yes, thank you, Hagrid," said Minerva, ever gracious. "As I said, we are just finishing up here, so if you wouldn't mind just waiting outside for a tiny moment...?"

"O' course, o' course!" And Hagrid led the student, who Hermione noticed was dressed in green-trimmed robes, back out into the hall, closing the door behind him.

As Hermione finished gathering her things in preparation to depart, the Headmistress noticed her quizzical expression.

"I don't normally approve of students coming back to the castle before the end of the summer holiday, but Mr. Petersen is a...unique case," she said.

Snape snorted. "Namby-pamby is more like it."

"Severus!" exclaimed Minerva. "A student of your own House!"

"Just because he has a poor home life, he's granted special treatment," said the Potions Master bitterly. "No allowances were made for me, and look how I turned out."

At this, both Minerva and Hermione turned meaningful looks upon the dark man, who simply bared his teeth at them.

How is it that he can do that? thought Hermione, somewhat irrelevantly. If anyone else bared their teeth, they would sound and look like a crazy person, but he just looks like a...like a...well, like a sexy animal! Even her more outspoken inner self blushed at the thought.

"Suffice it to say," Minerva continued, "that Mr. Petersen does have, as Severus so aptly put it, a "poor home life". The moment the boy stepped on the train to Hogwarts three years ago, a particularly observant prefect noted some angry bruising on his arms, and duly reported to me. I have made multiple attempts since then to negotiate some sort of guardianship through the Board of Governors, as well as Magical Child Protection Services, but my efforts have been unsuccessful. I am told that in order to take over the care of the boy, I would have to work with the Muggle equivalent of this organization, and that promises to be, at best, a sticky business. I have therefore made a concerted effort to do the little that I can–to check in with Mr. Petersen every time he returns to school, and determine the state of his health."

Severus mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like, "Or just tell him to suck it up", but both women ignored him.

"That's an awful situation, Headmistress," Hermione said, shaking her head. She was fortunate in that her parents loved her and had always taken the best care of her.

"Please call me Minerva," said she. "You are, after all, a colleague now."

Hermione smiled and nodded her thanks. Gathering up her briefcase, she began making her way past Severus to the door, as it was nearing dinnertime, when a thought suddenly struck her, and she stopped in her tracks.

If this was the start of young Mr. Petersen's fourth year at Hogwarts, that meant that Severus was his Potions teacher. Which meant that Severus' appearance should have shocked the boy as much as it had shocked her. Which meant that Mr. Petersen's complete lack of reaction–well, other than the apprehension which she remembered seeing on the faces of her classmates whenever faced with the Potions Master–was odd, to say the least.

"Any day you wish to remove your shadow from my person, Miss Granger," sneered that familiar deep voice. The only thing about him that was familiar, now. Well, and his hands. Those large, long-fingered hands, the appeal of which Hermione had, for some reason, never noticed. Probably because they were attached to one of the vilest men ever to walk the stones of the potions dungeons.

"Professor Granger," Hermione and Minerva corrected automatically, in chorus. Hermione, stunned anew at this complication to the conundrum, did not realize she was standing right in front of the Potions Master, literally inches from his black clothed knees.

Even his smell was different. Had he always smelled pleasantly of spices and herbs? Well, he must have smelled of herbs, at the least, being a potions teacher, but Hermione couldn't recall ever thinking that he smelled pleasant. Had she ever bothered to come up with a comparison for Snape's personal smell prior to this, she would have concluded that he smelled like the tears of adolescents whose hopes and aspirations had been crushed by his cutting words like blooming flowers crushed by a dementor.

Apparently, Snape regarded Hermione's continued insistence that he refer to her by her proper title as beneath his notice, for he simply ignored her and continued on his mini tirade.

"When I told Minerva, upon discovery of your acceptance of the Transfiguration position, that I did not look forward to having your shadow cross my path again, I meant it figuratively. Had I known it would come true literally, I would have escaped into the bowels of the Forbidden Forest months ago."

Minerva was trying to look stern, and failing miserably. In fact, she looked more amused than anything else. Hermione, however, was beginning to realize that whatever this was...however she was seeing the Potions Master...only she could see him that way. Which meant...there was no point asking Minerva about it later, because she simply wouldn't know.

Turning to look down at the dark man, who was sitting with his arms folded grumpily, she made the mistake of meeting his gaze for the first time since she had entered Minerva's office that afternoon. Instantly, she felt a bit of a lurching sensation, almost as though she had just jumped into a pool as deep as his dark eyes appeared.

After she emerged from the depths of his stare, she even felt somewhat lightheaded, as though she had just held her breath underwater for a long time. Dimly aware that she should continue on her way out before Minerva checked her in at St. Mungo's to be evaluated for mental illness, she manufactured an I'm still in charge of my mental faculties and am in no way thrown for a loop by Snape expression, and put it on. Snape, on the other hand, suddenly looked as though something very interesting had just been made clear to him.

He smirked up at her, eyes glittering malevolently.

A/N: What do you guys think is going on? :)

Ah yes, the italics. I deliberately overused them in this. I am aware that overuse of them is not desirable, but for some reason, it's how my humor was begging to be expressed here. Blame the Muse?