Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: This was written for the Different Perspective Challenge. Snape is to see Hermione as "brilliant but delusional." I believe it is canon, except for the epilogue, which never happened, as far as I'm concerned. Oh yeah, and I took a tiny liberty with Snape's death. It should be obvious when you read the story.
Insufferable know-it-all. Bucktoothed brat. Mudblood.
It's odd how history never quite repeats itself. Hermione never mentioned it, never acted any less respectfully. He was always Professor Snape, even after the title ceased to mean anything to anyone.
Lily had never talked of anything else, after he said it. It didn't hurt Hermione any less than it had Lily, but she bore it calmly. When he repeated it, feeling the word heavy in his mouth, she looked not angry, though her moronic boyfriend was, but only confused, as though he were a puzzle she couldn't fit together.
The truth was that she infuriated him. Hermione was so bright, so talented, but she had no idea how the world worked. Did she expect the purebloods to instantly see her point of view and free all of their house elves, who didn't even want to be freed?
She thought she could conquer the universe with a smile and a copy of Hogwarts: A History. The bottom line was that she was brilliant but delusional.
That was why he was so annoyed when she showed up, a summer after the end of the war, striding purposefully through the halls of Hogwarts. He had just gotten used to being a ghost, damn it! How dare she come back to haunt him? In a figurative sense of the word, of course, as technically he was haunting her.
She went straight to McGonagall's office and took a seat. Minerva greeted her warmly, surveying the young woman's serenity with approval. Severus, watching from just behind a wall, was less happy to see her.
She hadn't changed a bit. She still had that same irritating innocence, the same belief in the essential goodness of mankind. Had the war taught her nothing? How could such a brilliant teenage girl, caught up in the bloodiest conflict in the history of mankind, carry on secure in the delusion that people were good deep down, really they were?
His day got worse and worse. She intended to take her seventh year. Fabulous. Of course she would want to take Potions, and the headmistress would see him banished if he refused to have her.
She took it. She objected to his brewing instructions. He snapped at her. The world went on as usual.
At the end of the year, he breathed a sigh of relief, figuratively speaking. Now she would finally leave.
Wrong again. A few weeks after the end of term, she was back in Minerva's office, discussing the possibility of receiving the Transfiguration position, which Minerva wanted to give up now that she was busy with administrative duties. As soon as the post was offered, Hermione enthusiastically accepted.
She was a good teacher, he grudgingly admitted, and a fair one. He never caught her taking points from Slytherins who didn't deserve it. And though he would have died—again—rather than admit it, he made an effort to extend the same policy towards her Gryffindors.
She left on weekends to do charity work. Three years after she began work at Hogwarts, she showed up one day with Draco Malfoy, now on the Board of Governors, and announced that he would be observing Hogwarts for the next few weeks. In the few minutes they had alone, Draco explained to his godfather that Granger had strong-armed him into doing this and other charity work.
She cried when Minerva McGonagall died, and she cried when, despite Malfoy's efforts, her efforts to pass pro-Muggle legislature failed shortly afterwards. She came away from that defeat with a steely glint in her eyes, and Severus realized that she was no longer firm in her belief that everything would go her way if she just talked to people.
He was not, however, expecting for Hermione to use her new position as Headmistress to spread her political agenda. Even less was he expecting for it to work. He had to admit, though, when she came back from the Ministry, smiled at him, and said, "We won, Professor Snape," he smiled for the first time since Lily's death.
She was still brilliant.
A/N: I think this turned out all right. If I'm inspired, I might write another one-shot exploring the whole Malfoy angle.