Hermione Granger stood outside the Potion Master's office door, shifting her weight and having second thoughts. She raised her right hand to knock and then lowered it over and over. With an irritated sigh she turned, surmising that approaching him before or after class would be more appropriate.
"You may as well enter if you insist on loitering in front of my door." An already snarling voice came from behind the door.
Hermione froze and winced. She should have known she couldn't escape that easily. She let out a sigh and opened the door cautiously, peering inside with a tentative smile.
"Sorry, Professor. I realized it might be more appropriate to approach you before or after class tomorrow."
Severus Snape sat bent over his cluttered desk while grading papers. His office was tidy otherwise, but sparse with one wall comprised entirely of packed bookshelves and another packed full of potion ingredients and vials. There were two well-worn chairs in front of his desk and a painting of a large garden on the wall behind him. A small fireplace emitted heat in the otherwise dank dungeon room beside the door. He glanced up with his trademark eyebrow raised.
"Indeed. However, you seem to be here now." He glared at her as he tossed the roll of parchment on top of a pile of others. Hermione swallowed hard and stepped inside the room.
This had been a rash decision. Just before he had swept out of the room after class that day, he had waved his wand to distribute their graded assignments. Hermione gaped at the A (for Acceptable) scrawled atop her essay. She had spent dinner hour glaring at the 'Bat of the Dungeons' and afterward, in the common room, couldn't stop ranting about the unfair grade.
"Hermione, this is Snape we're talking about. He's a slimy old git. Don't let it get you so worked up." Ron had said somewhat exasperated. The look of pure venom she shot him made both him and Harry take a step back.
"No. I will not accept this. I am going down there and demanding he reconsider." She announced as she stood. Ron's eyes nearly bulged out of his head.
"Do you think that's a good idea? We're already behind on house points and –" Harry started. Hermione whirled around and gave him a nice long lecture about how one's grades which effect one's career options is infinitely more important than bloody house points. With that and a disgusted scoff, she stormed out of the room and towards the dungeons. Harry and Ron simply looked at each other and shrugged, both thinking Snape had no idea what he was about to encounter.
"I was wondering if I might inquire as to why my essay earned such a low grade." She said steadily, raising her chin a bit. Severus sank back into his chair, folding him arms and scowling at her.
"The overall grade in your class was 'Dreadful', Miss Granger. I'd say you ranked rather well." Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.
"Is that supposed to make me feel better? That I scored higher than my classmates? That won't help me when it comes to our O.W.L.s or N.E.W.T.s, Professor." Severus scoffed and shook his head as he leaned forward and resumed his grading.
"You needn't worry, Miss Granger. You will without doubt have the highest N.E.W.T. scores of your year." He merely looked up when she threw her hands onto the desk in anger.
"That's not the point!" She practically yelled. "I did a fine job on this essay; I followed the instructions, wrote more than the required 3 feet of parchment and used many references. This level of work deserves more." She waved the roll of parchment in front of him.
"Well," he drawled standing and looking down his large nose at her, "since you've shown so much…maturity…here tonight, perhaps I should take another look at it." He stretched out a long hand. Hermione almost smiled as she began to hand him the paper, but something in his expression made her pause.
"I…I know it wasn't perhaps the smartest idea to come here now but you wouldn't—"
Severus tilted is head a bit to one side, making his expression even more unnerving. "Wouldn't what, Miss Granger?" He said slowly, dangerously. She swallowed hard.
"You wouldn't lower my grade, would you, professor?"
He considered her for a moment, somewhat impressed that she was holding her ground. Other fifth-year girls would likely have fled by now, or at the very least have burst into tears. But here stood Miss Granger – shoulders back, chin lifted. She certainly had that Gryffindor courage. His eyes, seemingly of their own volition, traveled south of her defiant chin. Her top blouse buttons were undone, her tie discarded back in her common room most likely… but through the gap in her shirt he saw just the tiniest hint of pink skin and a heaving chest. Maybe not as confident as she appears, he thought with a smirk. He dragged his eyes upwards once again and straightened to his full height, crossing his arms.
"Lower your grade? For coming to me with a concern?" He sneered, enjoying the sight of her face flushing. "Who do you take me for, Miss Granger? Am I not a professor of this school?"
"W…well y…yes." She stammered, clearly confused and uncomfortable.
"Was I not chosen for this position by Albus Dumbledore himself?"
"I…I suppose you were."
"And yet you think I would be so petty as to lower a student's grade. Why, Miss Granger, would I behave in such a way?" He reached out and snatched the essay from her hand. She dropped her eyes to the floor, wringing her hands in front of her.
"You wouldn't." She whispered.
"I wouldn't." He agreed. "I may be known as the greasy bat who roams the dungeons, but I am certainly above these petty games you seem to think I would play."
"I'm sorry, Professor. It'll never happen again." She began turning towards the door.
"Have I dismissed you, Miss Granger?" He asked coldly. She froze. Lifting her head slightly, she looked towards him and shook her head.
"Ten points from Gryffindor for insulting me so; and detention Friday evening. 8 o'clock sharp." She opened her mouth as if to protest, but quickly shut it as he lifted an eyebrow at her. She gave a sharp nod and lowered her gaze to the floor again.
"You are dismissed, Miss Granger."
Hermione turned on her heel and fled the room and up several flights of stairs before she allowed herself to lean against the stone wall and sink to the floor. Consumed with rage at his humiliating her and shame for her actions, she felt the hot tears spill down her face and angrily knocked her head back into the wall.
"Well, excuse me!" A heavily accented male voice exclaimed. Hermione twisted her neck upward to find a portrait of an old British scholar looking disapprovingly down at her."Tut, tut – do you not have a bedchamber in which you could submit to these…female emotions…. Rather than bothering me?"
Hermione's eyes narrowed. With an indignant scoff, she pushed herself off the ground, wiped her tears away, and stalked off to the common room. Bloody men.