Author's Note: The following story is essentially the prequel for my story "Stand By Me" As you would find out by reading the A/N in that story, I had a long chaptered story planned but changed my mind. This is the beginning of said story – turned into a one-shot to set the ground for how Severus and Hermione started their new relationship. Enjoy!
I took a deep breath as I stepped over the threshold into Hogwarts castle; I had not been inside the school for over ten years. As if a key, opening a lock, the memories of the school and all that had transpired there came flooding back. The final battle had taken place right where I stood, in the Entrance Hall. I smiled fondly at the memory of the look of triumph Harry's face as he defeated Voldemort. Dumbledore had discovered that Harry and Voldemort share a blood connection from that night in the graveyard. He had also discovered that the reason Voldemort could not be killed was he had placed a complicated charm upon himself during his rise to power one that only allowed witches and wizards that shared his blood to kill him, hence the reason why Voldemort had hunted down and murdered all remnants of his family. Harry was able to defeat him because he, in essence, shared Voldemort's blood.
I shook myself out of my reverie and continued to make my way towards the Headmaster's office. He had sent me an owl a few days earlier requesting I take the position of Arithmancy teacher since the previous one up and left with no warning, claiming that she had major breakthrough in her research. I turned the corner and could make out Professor Dumbledore's gargoyle at the end of it. All of a sudden I was halted by a sneering figure in black flowing robes which had stopped directly in my path.
"Miss Granger, still feel the need to return to Hogwarts even after all this time?" he sneered, his black eyes boring into my own.
"Hello, Severus-" I begun cheerfully.
"That's Professor Snape to you Miss Granger." he snapped waspishly.
"Alright then, Professor Snape, still feel the need to go around like a big bat even after all this time?" I countered staring pointedly at him. He blinked quickly obviously not used to being talked to like that.
"Why you insolent little brat Miss Granger-!" he snarled. I cut him off before he could continue,
"That's Professor Granger to you. If you are going to insist I refer to you by your title then you ought to return the courtesy."
His eyes widened imperceptibly with surprise,
"Professor? Oh that's right… Arithmancy. In that case you may call me Severus; after all we are colleagues now. Despite you still showing traits of being an insufferable know-it-all and a Gryffindor to top it off." he continued sneering at the mention of my former house. "Better you than Weasley."
I bristled at the slight against Ron, realising however that he had given me a rather backhanded compliment.
"Good day Hermione." He said politely as he swept pass me down the hall.
Merlin! I thought, he said my name. This was going to take a lot to get used to. Professor Snape – no Severus – being civil. With a hand on my chest I breathed deeply, my mind trying to process this new information. I was interrupted from my thoughts by a pair of twinkling blue eyes and slight chuckle.
"Professor Granger, I see you have already met with Severus."
"Professor Dumbledore!" I was startled to find he had witnessed our exchange, "I guess you could say that." I never knew how civil Severus could be-
"Severus tends to treat colleagues and equals with a whole lot more reserve and respect that the students I daresay." Dumbledore offered, answering my unvoiced thought. "Hermione, dear, please do call me Albus. I do not want you feeling like you are a student anymore." His eyes twinkling again.
"Oh of course, Albus…" I faltered; it felt odd saying his first name after seventeen years of calling him Professor or Headmaster. A replay of my previous conversation with Severus flew unbidden back into my mind, completely distracting me from what Albus had continued saying. It would be awhile before I could fully grasp this new side of him, my musings were interrupted by the highly amused voice of Albus who was waving a hand in front of my face.
"Hermione? Are you listening to me?"
"Oh I'm so sorry Albus, my mind just wondered there." I said, feeling it would be quite odd if I said I was thinking of Severus.
"Yes well Severus tends to do that to a lot of people." He remarked dryly. My eyes widened in disbelief.
"How is it you always know what I am thinking, Albus? It is quite disconcerting."
He tapped the side of his nose conspiratorially,
"It's Legilimency, my dear and the fact that you feelings are very close to the surface." He grinned, "Well, my dear, do not let me keep you, your rooms are on the ground level at the portrait of Hengist of Woodcroft."
"Hengist of Woodcroft?" I repeated, "Why, that's near the dungeons!"
"Oh, I do suppose it is." He commented. "Well, good day Hermione." He turned to walk back up to the office. Unbeknownst to Hermione, the twinkle in his eyes meant time to get plans in motion to the old Headmaster.
I gathered my bags, which was very difficult seeing as I had so many and made my way to the portrait. However I had not even reached the Entrance hall when half of my bags fell to the ground spilling their contents. I growled furiously and bent down to pick them up.
"My, my Hermione, have you heard of a new thing called magic? It can be quite useful in situations like this." A smirking Severus stood in front of me surveying the scene with an elegantly arched eyebrow. My face burned red with embarrassment.
"Shut up!" I snapped, pulling out my wand and with a swish and flick everything was back in order.
"I beg your pardon! That is no way to address a professor!" He spat, anger palpable in every syllable. I stood up straighter and looked him in the eye,
"I'm also a professor, Severus!" I retorted, my face now as red as Ron's hair, "You'll do well to remember that!"
He looked flabbergasted for the second time that day. Obviously it was taking a longer time for that fact to sink into his head.
"Touché." He folded his arms across his chest and stood watching me an amused glint in his eyes, something I had never seen before. I straightened up, abandoning my bags; I was captivated by his stare. The dark pools of liquid obsidian drawing me in like water flowing down a drain. After sometime of standing in the entrance hall just looking at each other, Severus cleared his throat loudly snapping back my attention to the present. My cheeks burnt a bright red as I knew there was no talking out of this one.
"Miss Grang-Hermione." He corrected himself. "Do collect your belongings from the floor before the house elves decide this is where you will be sleeping." And with that he strode off, leaving me staring with wide eyes at his retreating figure. How he managed to billow those robes without the slightest wind was beyond me, I thought wondrously before shaking my head as I bent down to collect my belongings. I knew it was going to be a challenge working with Professor Snape. A challenge I for one was definitely up to.
Continue on to read "Stand By Me" if you haven't already to find out how the story ends. Thanks for reading :)