"You may all begin your tests."
Professor Severus Snape's delicious voice echoed through Hermione's delicate ears like a wolf's howl in the dark woods. She knew she had to get her test done, to receive yet another "Outstanding" in her O.W.L., but her eyes were firmly fixed on Snape. She stared at him admiringly until he finally noticed her oogling at him.
He raised an eyebrow at her, making her blush and quickly look back at her paper. She hadn't started on it yet. She quickly scribbled her answers on it; It was done in less than a minute, but, nevertheless, each of her answers were correct. She knew it. They had to be. They just HAD to be.
As time passed by, Hermione noticed that everyone else was still working on their O.W.L. test. She decided to spend her free-time looking at Snape when he wasn't looking at her. But, for some reason, everytime she tried to look at him, he noticed, and that just made her quickly look back to her paper, pretending to scribble more answers onto it.
Thirty minutes later, the test was over. Snape called the students up to turn in their tests, whether they were done or not. When Hermione held her test out to him, the paper shook in her hand a little. Snape, once again, raised an eyebrow at her. She blushed and quickly looked away, handing him her report and rushing back to her desk. She could feel his eyes burning into the back of her head as she sat down.
Then, there came the five words that temporarily shocked Hermione: "Granger. Detention. This room. Tonight." A few students in Slytherin, particularly Draco Malfoy, snickered, just loud enough for Hermione to hear. Ronald Weasley, seated beside her started to angrily protest against Snape, but Harry Potter quickly stopped him by shaking his head.
Hermione felt patches of anger and embarrassment forming in the pit of her cheeks. How could Professor Snape give her detention when she hadn't done anything? The only thing she did that could possibly disturb him was staring at him every so often, and that was hardly worth giving her detention for. At the very end of class, she wanted to give Snape the dirtiest look she could muster, but she couldn't do it... She felt a burning sensation in the center of her heart for him... She didn't dare glare at her future lover... She just couldn't.
As she slowly left the room, she was the last one out. She expected Professor Snape to call her back as soon as the rest of the students were gone, but he just merely glanced with a smirk at her and said, "Miss Granger, don't you have somewhere to be?"
She felt hot tears prickling at the back of her eyes as she left the room... And she could feel Snape smirking at her the whole way to her next class... It hurt her... More than anything in this world...
When Hermione left her all-girl Dormitory that night, she threw her bookbag over her shoulder and angrily stomped off to Professor Snape's room.
When she finally arrived at his room, she reached out a trembling hand and quietly knocked on the door. "Enter. I've been waiting," Snape's voice said, still echoing through her ears as though she had never heard such a beautiful voice in her life... She took in a deep breath, clutched the doorknob, slowly twisted it to one side, and pushed the door open.
"Ah, Miss Granger, I've been expecting you." His voice greeted her like a gentle breeze in an abandoned forest that brought the wonderful smell of flowers. As soon as she saw him sitting at the front of his desk, she finally gathered the courage to glare angrily at him. However, he didn't seem to notice. He suddenly pointed a finger at one of the nearby desks, and ordered, "Sit there," but... Hermione noticed something. The desk, it... It was right in front of Snape. She smiled a bit, but, her smile faded when she realized there was perfectly no reason that she should be in detention in the first place.
She slowly walked up to the desk he had pointed at, and slowly sat down in it. She continued to glare at him. "I hope you're happy, 'Professor'," she said angrily through clenched teeth as she furiously fiddled around in her bookbag, looking for her quill that she had bought at Hogsmeade and a roll of parchment. "Oh, there won't be any need for that, Miss Granger," Snape said suddenly but quietly. She looked back up at him, removing her hands from her bag.
Snape's lip curled into a smirk. "I just wanted to talk to you... Privately." He stared at her for a long moment, and she stared back. Overtime, her angry look turned into another one of her admiring trances. She loved what she saw. Then, as time passed, as they kept staring at each other, she noticed something about Snape. His face was blank and expressionless as he stared her down. He looked as though he was looking right through her, like she was a ghost.
Then, she suddenly realized what he was doing: He was using his Legilimency skills! On a student! She blushed redder than she had ever blushed before. He knew what she was thinking; That's why he had been staring at her all this time. When she took her O.W.L. test earlier... THAT'S why he was staring right back at her, as she was at him... He was using Legilimency!
She stared at him until she was forced to look away in embarrassment and shame. He knew what she had been thinking. He had known this whole time. It was supposed to be a secret. No one was supposed to know. No one.
As she continued to stare at the floor, Snape said, rather quietly, "Love is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, Miss Granger." She looked up at him. He still had the same expression: Blank. But, he seemed to have a more concentrated look in his eyes now. "Come here," he said suddenly.
Hermione gulped and shivered a little. She had always been a little afraid of Snape. But, nevertheless, she obediently walked over to him, trying her best to look loyal. Before she well-knew what was happening, she felt something brush against her arm. The sensation made her tingle. It made shivers run all down her body. She looked down: It was Snape. He had run his fingers across it.
Then, the words came out of Snape's mouth; The words that Hermione had never, in her life, heard him say to ANYONE: "You are very beautiful, do you know that?"
She blinked in surprise, then, trying to seem casual and polite, she managed to say, "... Thank you..." He suddenly pulled her a little closer to him. She was shocked and helpless... She loved it, however.
"You didn't need to keep secrets from me, Miss Granger. I thought that you, of all people, would surely know, by now, that my Legilimency skills are quite well-developed... I know your secret, Miss Granger. I've known it for quite a long time. And, I must say, I am shocked." Hermione suddenly, for some unknown reason, felt the tears starting up again.
Then, whipping her head around, she said, "Why would YOU care about my 'secret', Professor? You don't love me. You don't even like me. You've always hated me, everyone has. I'm the 'insufferable know-it-all', remember? The 'smart-alecky Mudblood'..." She felt a tear sliding down her cheek. She tried to hide it from Snape, but it was no use, he had already seen it.
Before she knew it, many other tears followed. Then, she did something that she didn't do very often; at least, not in front of Snape: She began to sob. The sobs were small and hiccuppy, but they were still embarrassing. She hated herself for crying... Especially in front of a teacher... Her favorite teacher...
Suddenly, Hermione felt a finger touch her face and gently wipe away the tears. She slowly turned her head back over to Snape's direction. She felt him put his right arm around her. She felt the shivers starting up again. "Please do not be afraid of me, Hermione," she heard Snape say, which was another surprise; It was the first time he had used her first name in front of her. "I..." he went on, hesitating a little. "... I don't hate you."
Hermione hiccupped a little, but she couldn't help smiling, although, that didn't stop the flood of tears. "Come here," Snape said, motioning for her to come closer. She walked a little closer to him and immediately fell on her knees in warmth and embrace: He had gently wrapped his arms around her. "Don't cry," he whispered gently, lightly stroking her golden-brown hair. "Don't cry." She laid her head on his chest, finally feeling safe around him for the first time in years. Her tears fell onto his chest while he held her head close to it.
She suddenly found the courage she needed to tell him the truth, even though he already knew it. "I-I love you," she spluttered through the tears, putting her hands around him as well. "I love you... So much..." Although she wasn't facing him directly, she somehow knew he was smiling. "I know you do," he replied softly, continuing to stroke her hair. "I love you, too."
She hiccupped again, feeling safe in his arms. Then, as she had (somehow) expected to happen at one time or another, Snape reached down under her chin, gently placed a finger under it, lifted her head up to his, and kissed her lips softly. She moaned in pleasure. She had wanted this for so long...
"Don't cry," he said again. He hugged her gently. "Please, don't cry..." She still couldn't honor his request because she still couldn't stop the flow of tears, so he softly murmured words to try to get her to be quiet and stop crying. "I'm here," he whispered comfortingly. "You have nothing to be afraid of. I'm here for, and I will ALWAYS be here for you. Never forget that."