Understanding your Allegiance

Potions and Projects

Potions class was far smaller this year, as most people had dropped the N.E.W.T finding it far too difficult. Hermione had stuck it out no problem, and Ron had stayed, though reliant on her help. There were a couple of Ravenclaws Hermione vaguely knew, and Draco and Pansy. Sighing to see that the Ravenclaws had taken the backseats she and Ron were used to Hermione went and sat at the front with Draco and Pansy, figuring it couldn't be that much worse anyway.

Ron came in a few minutes later and scowled at Hermione.

"I thought you were joking about making friends with Slytherins." He muttered.

Hermione gazed at him incredulously, lost for words as he got out his potions instruments. How could he be so immature? So so…

"Miss Granger, as sickening as your relationship with Mr Weasely is, there is no need to add to it by staring at him like a lovesick mooncalf, when you ought to be facing front at your professor."

Jumping slightly Hermione looked up at her sneering potions master, mumbled a 'sorry professor' and concentrated on the lesson.

As she sat and brewed, trying to ignore Ron aping her every move, Hermione became increasingly aware of Snapes gaze on her. With a quick smile, Hermione took a moment to check her potion. She knew Snape had been itching to criticise her efforts, and was proud to be able to deny him that pleasure.

Suddenly Ron jogged her elbow, sending the pinch of powdered dragon scale in her hand into her cauldron . With a screech Hermione rounded on him, froze, and ducked under her desk, while a blast that sent Ron flying as her potion exploded all over the classroom.

"50 points from Gryffindor." Said Snape calmly. "Everyone get out, Miss Granger has rendered all your own efforts null and void. Oh and Miss Granger," Hermione clambered out from under her desk, "detention."

~

"Look Mione I said I was sorry didn't I? It really wasn't my fault, it was Malfoy, he was making faces at me which made me twitch or something I dunno and your elbow was right there."

"Ron." said Hermione coldly, "If you didn't feel the need to copy me in potions class it wouldn't have happened as you wouldn't have been standing so close, blaming Draco for provoking some kind of twitch is poor and I've now got detention."

"Well this wouldn't have happened if I'd been allowed to go with Harry, you didn't protest all that much I noticed."

"Don't you dare turn this on me. I had hoped it would mean we could be alone more, the golden trio thing was getting a bit old. I knew I'd be Head Girl and that would mean this common room we're in right now, and the bedroom I've got all to myself which you incidentally seem positively frightened to enter."

Ron turned a violent shade of magenta. "I'm trying to do the right thing Mione, if you said those three little words and started acting a bit more…"

"A bit more what Ron? A bit more like the doting girlfriend who would happily settle down and have half a dozen babies? I'm not your mother! I have no problem with sex before marriage."

"I cant talk to you about this now, let me know when you've calmed down."

Ron stomped out the portrait hole, passing a curious looking Draco.

"Lovers tiff Hermione?"

"Pah, I wish." Sighed Hermione, collapsing into an armchair.

"Likkle weasel not putting out? And I always thought it would be the other way round."

Hermione gave him a wry grin. "Gryffindor men are brave enough, but apparently not in the bedroom. Sometimes I wonder if I should have argued with the sorting hat."

Seeing his mind ticking over this new piece of information Hermione explained.

"I was nearly a hatstall remember? I told everyone I was offered Ravenclaw but it was actually Slytherin. I had the ambition, the intelligence and the sneakiness you all seem to possess and your reputation in Hogwarts, a History was so much more interesting.. But I'm muggle born, so the hat told me I'd be better off in Gryffindor."

Draco looked triumphant. "I always reckoned there was a bit more to you than the average Gryffindor. It's the way you smirk when no ones looking. Ha, so the Gryffindor princess, apple of old McGonagall's eye was nearly one of us? I love it."

"Yeah well, doesn't matter soon anyway does it? We'll all be leaving this year, fighting a war none of us started."

"Not necessarily."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Uh, you've got to survive that detention with Snape that starts, if I'm not mistaken, now."

"Crap."

Draco laughed as she leapt up and ran down to the dungeons, aware her punishment would be worse the later she got.

Snape was stood behind his desk when she arrived, talking into the fireplace where Hermione could see Professor McGonagall's head. As she walked across the room they both looked up at her, and McGonagall gave a tight nod and vanished.

"Late Miss Granger? 10 points deducted I think." Spinning around he smirked down at her. "I have an unusual detention for you this evening, bearing in mind the way your mind works I decided manual labour would not be punishment enough. Instead after a brief chat with your head of house I've come up with something much more suitable for you. Sit down."

Hermione sat.

"You have the next hour to decide on the subject for your project, whereas the rest of your peers have until the Christmas holidays. I wasn't able to adjust the deadline for the finished piece, but we cant have it all can we?" His face triumphant he handed her parchment and ink. "Start thinking, you now have 55 minutes."

Hermione gaped at him, under an hour to decide on something she would have to study all year? This was not fair, but McGonagall had still agreed to it. Angered, she began to brainstorm. Animagi, cross species breeding of non-magical creatures by magical means, house elf liberation, the psychology of the whomping willow, brewing death and stoppering glory….

~

"Are you done Miss Granger?"

"Yes sir, may I leave now?"

"Certainly not, you will present your idea to me for approval."

Rolling her eyes Hermione walked to his desk and placed he parchment in front of him. As he read, she was interested to see his face change from his almost permanent smirk to shock and finally emptying of all emotion, settling on a blank a slate as was possible.

"Have any of your teachers put you up to this Miss Granger?"

"No sir."

"Where then did the motivation for such a project come?"

"Well Sir, the question of why the magical community allowed the idea of witchcraft to spread so widely at a time when muggles were so superstitious, allowing thousands of muggle women to be tortured and killed in their name is a massive historical conundrum. One that has not been satisfactorily researched by anyone up to this point, and I've wondered about it ever since it was set as holiday homework first year. It seemed a natural choice."

"Have you any inkling as to why there are no books on this subject?"

"I figured it was due to the magical communities general dislike, disinterest and in some cases scorn of muggles. No one cared enough to look into it."

Snape was looking pensive, unsettling Hermione considerably.

"I would actively encourage this subject Miss Granger," he held up his hand to stem the questioning look on her face, "but you will discover things that are unpalatable to your sensibilities, and you will be discouraged from this research by all the other teachers at this school for reasons I will not divulge at this time. Are you prepared to lose your teachers respect for this piece of work? For you will."

Hermione thought for a moment. Clearly her question had touched a nerve with Snape, and he was willing to go against all his colleagues to help her with it. The positives then were having stumbled across something no one had ever done before, and being helped one-to-one with Snape would seriously piss off Ron. Negatives, not being teachers pet anymore and losing the teasing that went with it.

"I think I'm prepared to go through with it Sir, with your help."

"Good." Snape smiled then, a genuine smile. A smile that haunted Hermione far more than anything else discussed that night in the dungeons. Preying on her mind as she tried to go to sleep, wondering what could have made Snape so happy.

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