A/N: For the Duct Tape competition. Clearly AU.
If there was one thing Hermione was certain that she did not like, it was everything that Severus Snape stood for.
For one, she liked boys her own age. And possibly girls. She still didn't know how to categorise that overwhelming attraction to Mandy Brocklehurst in third year, the one that culminated in a very awkward kiss under the mistletoe when no one was looking and an immediate agreement on both parties to never speak of it again. Although she had caught Mandy staring at her the other day at breakfast, and she'd be lying if she hadn't thought about the tentative press of Mandy's lips against her own...anyway, the point was Mandy was her age. The oldest boy she'd ever been interested in was Viktor Krum, and even he wasn't that much older. Not decades older. She didn't even know how old Professor Snape was-he wasn't as old as Professor Flitwick or Professor McGonagall, but he was certainly much too old for a seventh-year Gryffindor. That was for sure.
She didn't like greasy black hair, either. Well, she supposed, technically Victor's had been rather dark...and rather greasy when he didn't wash his hair for three weeks for "luck," he'd explained to her scrunched-up expression. After all, he still fell in the "young enough to date" category. And look at Ronald Weasley, who she was certain nursed a burning crush on her, and had since first year. His hair was red. And not greasy at all.
She didn't like noses that big, either. Severus's nose looked like it could cut his meat and butter his rolls at dinner. It utterly dominated his face, and that couldn't be considered attractive, could it? Or was she being hypocritical, considering her own oversized-until-fourth-year front teeth? All right, she'd give him that one. The nose wasn't a deal-breaker.
His overly biting sense of sarcasm, on the other hand...oh, Hermione liked a bit of snarkiness as much as the next girl, but not when it consistently reduced her classmates (like Neville) to tears. She was certain Neville only needed a good boost of confidence, and how could he have that with Professor Snape's tongue shredding his self-esteem with only a few well-placed barbs? It was cruel and unnecessary, and more than once, Hermione had longed to march up to him and give him a good punch, like she had with Draco, the smarmy little git.
He'd also killed Dumbledore. That was certainly more than a mood-killer! Although, to be fair, her conscience reasserted itself, it had been on the orders of the Headmaster himself, and Severus had actually been working on the side of Light all along. And helped bring Voldemort down at the end of sixth year. Perhaps that sort of canceled itself out, considering the amount of sacrifices she knew the Potions master had made during the past decade or so, having to pretend he followed a megalomaniac with no nose and an appalling sense of personal style-and hygiene.
That was another thing, really. Hermione wasn't really into fashion herself (no matter the best efforts of her roommates), but surely he could wear something other than plain black, couldn't he? Colour would do him good-Hermione would know. She'd discovered she looked rather nice in dark blue. He could at least try to be more presentable.
Not to mention he could try actually teaching his upper-level Potions classes, instead of scribbling instructions on the board, growling at them to get on with it, and spending the rest of the class period marking essays. It frustrated her to no end, all the wasted potential for learning.
Of course, sometimes he helped, and she found herself far too caught up in the way the end of his mouth crooked up in a half-smile when someone finally caught on, or the way his fingers gripped a stirring rod, or the way his voice caressed the syllables of her name.
Like now, and Hermione jumped, nearly dropping her book in shock when his voice finally penetrated her daydreams.
"Miss Granger! Kindly do pay attention, would you?" he snapped and she coloured brilliant scarlet as she nodded.
"Yes, sir," she whispered, cheeks flaming as she retrieved her book.
Professor Snape epitomised everything she should have despised, really, she thought as she picked up her quill once more. And yet-
He was all she could ever want, and more.