Disclaimer: The world is J.K. Rowling's, not mine.

Author's notes: Inspired by a love letter from George Bernard Shaw to Beatrice "Stella" Campbell.

My Day's Wage

When you do the same thing day after day, year after year, you tend to forget the reasons why you started and why you continue. In my own case, I started teaching because I wanted a chance to shape young minds, encourage genius, and discourage stupidity. Those first few years were a pleasure. My students were eager to learn; I was eager to teach. Then, it seemed like the world changed. Or perhaps only I changed, I may never know. Now, I feel that no matter how hard I try, stupidity will always outnumber genius in this world. These days, few of my students show any natural intelligence, and only one shows true genius. She is the one reason I continue to teach.

It should come as no surprise that the student I speak of is Hermione Granger. Never before have I encountered such a mind, and I very much doubt I ever will again. Every fact I say, every distinction I make, every instruction I give she writes down, memorizes, I believe even treasures. She is a girl who loves learning, not just to assist her with her classwork, but because she is eager to open her mind to new possibilities.

I imagine Hermione wishes as fervently as I do that her classmates were as serious about their studies as she. I often watch as she shows Potter, Weasley, and the ever-incompetent Longbottom how to properly brew their potions. I have accused her of showing off, as is expected of me, but I know that she does it from a love of learning and the goodness in her heart, as cliched as that might sound. The fact that those boys, especially Longbottom, have passed my course year after year is a testament to her.

As Hermione's seventh year at Hogwarts draws to a close, her graduation inspires mixed feelings in me. And in the rest of the staff, of course. We are proud of the student we have seen excel at everything she has put her mind to. Yet, I at least am saddened by the loss of such a rare intellect. Hogwarts will not be the same without her.

I know my colleagues are all hoping she will continue her education in one or more of their fields. Minerva in particular would like to see her become a Transfiguration instructor or at least an animagus. Curiously, Hermione has refrained from making any sort of commitment about her future. One must wonder what she is waiting for.

My year-end review with Albus is tomorrow. We will discuss my performance this year and, among other things, next year's salary. I wonder how he would react if I told him I'd be satisfied with just teaching Hermione Granger every day.