The Gryffindor common room was crowded as usual when the door swung open and Hermione and Ron stormed inside after dinner, silently followed by Harry. The two were quarrelling and, at the sight of the stormy expression on Hermione's face, the other Gryffindors thought better to clear the place.
“That was disgusting!” Hermione shouted, glaring venomously at Ron.
“What's up with you? I haven't done anything wrong!” Ron protested, clueless as always.
“Oh, for goodness's sake! Ron, you've drooled in your soup while goggling at Eleanor Branstone's breasts!” Hermione roared scandalized.
“I'm a boy, remember? And boys actually do stuff like that,” Ron justified himself.
“Just because you're a boy, that doesn't mean you have to act like a hippogriff in heat!” she snarled back to him.
“Oh, come on you two. Give it a rest, will you?” Harry tried to restore peace, but his attempt passed unnoticed.
“You're just jealous because nobody stares at you like that!” Ron hissed the worst words one could say to a girl.
“PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!” Hermione shrieked before storming out of the common room, letting the door close with a bang.
“Hey, didn't anybody teach you manners?” the Fat Lady's portrait protested.
Hermione set to a run through the emptying corridors with tears streaming down her eyes. She wandered a few minutes, not knowing exactly where she was going. She stopped only when she was breathless. She lent against the wall and let herself slip down to crouch on the floor.
“Stupid, idiotic moron!” she sobbed, wrapping her arms around her knees.
In her mad run she did not realize that her feet had led her to one of her most familiar places of the castle - the School Library. She was not aware to be sitting just outside of it, till she suddenly heard its old door open with a creaking, as the tall figure of a man carrying a bunch of books emerged from it.
“Can I know what are you doing here, Miss Granger?” a silky voice said.
“It's not against the rules to seat in a corridor, and it's not curfew yet!” Hermione said defensively, though her voice still quivered slightly.
Snape was a bit surprised by such a straight answer. It was not like Hermione Granger to address one of her teachers like that, and certainly not to him. He observed her down his long, hooked nose and did not fail to notice the girl was trying to hide her puffy eyes from him. He was not one to be impressed by a crying girl, but somehow the sight of her had triggered a sad memory in his mind. Was it the fact that she was all alone, or her tears stripped face, or her curled position, but something prevented him from turning on his heels and go on with what he was doing.
“Hold these for me. I have some more to take,” he quickly said handing her his burden, before disappearing again in the Library.
Hermione was a bit surprised by that gesture, but even more to have been spared by one of his usual nasty remarks. She patiently waited for his return, not daring to have a sneak-peek inside the Potions volumes she was holding. She had risked enough with that impolite answer to Snape's question, and thought better to restrain her curiosity or she could end up in detention. He came back shortly after, carrying a peculiarly assorted group of books. He took a couple of steps in the direction of the main staircase, then turned towards the unmoving girl.
“Well? What you're waiting for? I need those. Follow me!” he snarled with annoyance.
Hermione sprinted to a trot, hardly matching his long stride. They silently walked through corridors, down stairs, till they finally reached Snape's office and lab. She entered the dimly lit room, put down the books on his desk, and was about to leave when he spoke again.
“I'm working on some experiments, and I have a lot of work to do. You'll be my apprentice tonight!” he stated to a stunned Hermione.
“Yes, Professor,” she quickly answered, and moved to the nearest empty table, ready to set to work.
Snape did not let her do much more than cutting the ingredients and some basic brewing, while he scanned through the many Potion books he had borrowed from the Library. Hermione noticed he had simply put aside the second pile of books he had picked up after their meeting. A furtive look at their titles began to arise in the girl's mind the suspect they had been selected at random.
The apprentice experience revealed more pleasant than she had expected. It was very interesting to watch a professional brewer in action, and she could not help staring in awe at the precision and speed of his every move, and the way his eyes lit up at every positive achievement. Hermione soon forgot about her row with Ron, and felt quite cheerful as she busied herself with her various tasks. Snape threw a glance at her and a small smile escaped his otherwise impassible face, but quickly hid it by looking away before the girl could take notice.
“Here is your permission” Snape said, handing her a signed sheet of paper.
“Good night, Professor,” she said heading towards the door, “and thank you!” she added before closing the door behind her.
“I must have gone soft with age,” Snape thought, as another smile arched his thin lips.
“For a Right Cause”
A girl is kidnapped for the Dark Lord's devilish plan. She's bound, laying unconscious on the floor of a dark cell. A gleam of light comes from the open door, a gleam of hope. A tall, gaunt, dark-haired man comes in.
“Wake up, Hermione. I've come to save you,” he says, gently shaking her.
“Why?” she asks, surprised.
“Dumbledore died to save me. I owe him one,” he simply explains.
“But ... I mean ... they'll kill you!” she whimpers, realizing what his words imply.
“Then I'll die for a right cause,” he softly whispers, helping the girl to her feet.
"Plans for the Summer"
It was the end of another eventful school year. All of Hogwarts inhabitants were gathered in the Great Hall for the End of Term Feast. After the desserts were served, Dumbledore stood up again to say a few more words.
"The School Governing Boad has kindly given me permission to open a pre-Hogwarts kids summer camp," Dumbledore announced, cheerfully, "I have already chosen the summer camp director: Professor Snape!" he added, causing everybody to look astonished at the Potion Master.
Snape was utterly thunderstruck by the news. The Headmaster had obviously forgot to even mention the whole matter to him. Snape's face wore an expression that seemed to scream, "What the fuck?"
"Are there some students who would like to volunteer for the staff?" Dumbledore asked, his eyes twinkling. Many hands raised up in the air, and so did Harry and his best friends'.
"Me? Running a Summer camp? With a bunch of kids? With the wonder trio?" Snape asked to himelf. "The old loony has really made it!" he angrily thought. He stood up and marched down to the middle of the room.
"May I have your attention, please?" he shouted at the astonished crowd.
"I AM a DEATH EATER! I am STILL a faithful servant of the DARK LORD," he proclaimed. "Here is my DARK MARK," he added unrolling his left sleeve. "NOW, can someone, PLEASE, owl the Ministry to send AURORS to come and take me to AZKABAN?" he asked, delirious.
Few minutes later, a squad of Aurors arrived. But when they first saw Snape, they thought better to put him in a straightjacket, and take him to St. Mungo's instead, to be checked at the Ward for Serious Mental Diseases.