Chapter Twenty-seven

In which spring and the strength of love come to Hogwarts

It was late that evening after many students had gone to bed or curled up in a soft chair with a good book, hours after the Gryffindor welcome home party for Hermione and Ginny, when the former of these two students found herself standing outside the apartment of her head of house who had wanted to see her. Professor McGonagall had not said in reference to what, but Hermione had a feeling that it was about Severus Snape and her relationship with him. Hermione knocked and took a deep breath. She wasn't precisely certain whether McGonagall objected or not, but she was certain that the older witch knew, as did the headmaster and Poppy Pomfrey among a few others, though the relationship was going to be a secret one. And perhaps it was better that way.

"Come inside, Miss Granger." said Professor McGonagall as she opened the door. The transfigurations' professor was wearing her emerald colored robes.

"You wanted to see me?"

"Indeed." nodded the professor. "I wanted to tell you that you are free to use my floo at anytime. It wouldn't be easy to enter or exit the dungeons undetected otherwise, and Severus has informed me of his wish that your comings and goings go unseen and unremarked, for his sake as well as your own." McGonagall told her.

Hermione looked at her with a thunderstruck expression for a moment. She had not expected help from her head of house, whose rivalry with her Slytherin counterpart was well known, though perhaps more a matter of simple tradition than anything else.

"Thank you, professor." she stammered.

"You know, Miss Granger, I had something of an infatuation with one of my professors when I was about your age."


"Most students do at this school. It is almost like something of a tradition. If they were to make a rule against such things, three quarters of the student population would suffer and at least two of our professors would quit on principal. It would have been three at one time ..." she said with a soft sigh. Unfortunately, Hermione wasn't privy to the rumors concerning Professor Sinistra.

"What happened in your case, professor? I want to know because ... I don't know anyone else who's walked this road, so to speak, except Ginny, but she hasn't seen anymore of it than I have. Unless I'm prying ..."

"Not at all. I ... I chose to keep my feelings hidden from him and admire him from afar ... for the most part, though we were and are good friends. In the end I guess that I chose not, as you have phrased it, to walk that road at all. And I suppose I regretted my decision. I still do. Sometimes. Especially recently."

"I hope that I won't regret mine. It won't be easy, especially with the war ... But I think it's worth the risk. I think he is definitely worth the risk."

Professor McGonagall smiled at her and said, "I have known our potions professor for sometime, Miss Granger, and I can assure you that there is far more to him than meets the eye. But you are correct. It will not be easy."

"They say the course of true love never runs smooth."

"That they do." she agreed. "Permission to use my floo wasn't the only reason I asked you here this evening, of course." said McGonagall.

"Really, professor."

"Have you considered what you will do upon graduation?"

"I was planning to apply for a position at the Ministry."

"Unless you have your heart set on that idea, I would offer you an alternative. Professor Dumbledore has suggested that I find an assistant to help me to teach transfigurations. My other responsibilities have become heavier as of late and will only grow more burdensome as the war against Voldemort progresses. Even then, I am not so young as I was and teaching so many classes while also juggling the duties associated with being deputy-headmistress and the head of Gryffindor house is quite tiring and stressful. You are an excellent student, Miss Granger, and I would be pleased, more than pleased, to offer the position to you."

Hermione was speechless. She could only stare at her professor as she felt slightly giddy at the thought of remaining at Hogwarts and teaching.

"It would, of course, keep you close to Severus, which I imagine could be quite desirable. Do not feel compelled to accept the offer, however, as I know that the Ministry would also benefit from your talents. I have other candidates to choose from, though I must say that you are my first choice, Hermione." Professor McGonagall added with an uncharacteristically warm smile.

"Of course I accept!" said Hermione. "I would love to have the job."

"Then consider it yours."

"Thank you, professor. This means so much to me."

There was suddenly a rather timid knock at the door of the apartment.

Stepping toward a tea set by the hearth, Professor McGonagall asked Hermione, "Would you please let Miss Weasley in while I pour us all a cup of tea?"

"Of course, but how do you ...?" Hermione began to ask as she stepped toward the door.

"An old trick Albus taught me quite some time ago." replied McGonagall. For a moment her eyes seemed to twinkle.

Ginny gave Hermione an odd look when she opened the door for her. She had spent much of the evening getting her courage up in order to visit her head of house and transfigurations' teacher. She was rather surprised to find Hermione there.

"I suppose you've come for advice too." laughed the older girl, ushering Ginny inside.

"I suppose I have." agreed Ginny with a chuckle.

"About Remus?" Professor McGonagall questioned, indicating that the two young women should sit while she served the tea.

"Not exactly. I think I know where I stand with Remus and how I feel about him and all. I wanted advice concerning advanced transfigurations. I think I want to study to become an Animagus." Ginny explained. "Mainly so that I can always be with Remus during his transformations, potion or no." she added.

"Becoming an Animagus isn't an easy thing. It requires years of study and dedication, and many people fail to achieve their goal, especially if they do not have the gift." McGonagall warned.

"I know, but I have to at least try. Do you think I could possibly do it?"


"Would you help me, professor?"

Minerva looked at Ginny for a few moments, trying to figure out what she would become if she had the necessary skill and dedication to transfigure herself into an animal. She would be a true and faithful canine, McGonagall surmised. A collie perhaps or maybe a sheep dog. Both loyal and brave beasts. She could see the ability in Ginny, in her earnest and determined eyes.

"Yes, Miss Weasley, I will." she agreed.

"Thank you."

"You may not thank me when this matter is concluded. I meant what I said. Such training is grueling and not for the faint of heart. But I believe ... that you will do fine with the proper amount of time, effort, and determination."

A few minutes later as they finished up their tea, Minerva glanced at the time and told the pair, "It is getting late and I am expecting a guest soon. Perhaps you two should return to the dormitories."

"Of course." nodded Hermione, noticing for the first time that Professor McGonagall appeared to have spruced herself up at bit.

She could not help smiling as they left. It appeared that their head of house was going to have a gentleman caller.

For her part, Hermione went quite gladly back to her dormitory for a good night's sleep in her own bed, which was thoroughly deserved and had been equally missed during the escapade in the prison realm. Ginny had other plans and instead of going up to the sixth year dormitory where her year mates were sleeping, she crept out of Gryffindor Tower and stole through the empty and unpatroled hallways of the castle until she reached Remus's private rooms.

The door was unlocked as Remus had not bothered to lock or ward the door when he went to visit professor Snape that evening ages and ages ago before any of them had been exposed to the world on the other side of the mirrors. Ginny stepped inside and found her way to a comfortable scarlet and gold couch in front of the fireplace, where a blaze was crackling against the chill of the night. She curled up upon the sofa and waited for the coming dawn, intending to see Remus as soon as he returned from the Shrieking Shack.

Above, in the tower of the Gryffindors, two aging lions discussed old times and old feelings, which had withstood the test of time and other trials, while their students slept, some in their beds and some in other places. The castle's potions' master rested peacefully in the hospital wing while the young woman who was fast falling completely and utterly in love with him lay in her own bed curled up beneath several layers of blankets and dreamed of his dark and beautiful eyes. A young and brave professor in werewolf form bayed at the full moon and snarled at the shadows within the confines he had known as a teenager. But within a small portion of his mind he still held the image of a young witch with red hair who could look upon him with eyes of compassion, understanding, and love. And that young woman slept contentedly in his rooms and dreamed of her sweet Remus's return.

And all was well within the castle walls that night, though there would be few nights so serene thereafter. A war was upon them, but for a single night, the world seemed to be at peace, for they themselves were at peace. Love was blossoming, for some after long and countless winters. It was spring again in their hearts. And they were strengthened for the trials ahead.

The End


A/N: Too fluffy. Erg, I hate endings!

Sarah T: Thank you for reviewing!

Enfleurage: I will definitely write another SS/HG story sometime, though I can't say when. I'm glad you enjoyed the way I wrote the characters. Thank you very much for reviewing!

JoeBob1379: Yeah, it is kind of sad for them. *sighs* Thanks for the review!

Serenity Raye: Well, 'taken to heart' is kind of strong. But it has given him food for thought. Thank you for reviewing!

Michelle: Yep! True love. Molly ... Wow, that is quite a thought! Thanks for reviewing!

Serpenthe: All valid points. I am a sucker for happy endings (or close approximations thereof). I just couldn't leave someone there. The agony of choosing which one it would have been unbearable. Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey both have something in common. Minerva would have known about Remus' uncomfortable youth (constantly seeming ill or sicky and leaving school quite often for some reason, even if she was unaware of his lycanthropy). Poppy knew what Remus was, and I would like to believe that as a medical professional understood both that he could not help it and how much he suffered. So both women would probably have loved nothing more than to see Remus happy (and Ginny too). But I think Remus would be more discerning about his public displays of affection in the future perhaps. I have an argumentative nature. Just had to answer that. *shrugs* Thank you very much for your constructive criticism. It is, after all, very hard to come by.

plastic: Thank you for the review!

labrisa: Yes, it has to end now. Thanks for reviewing!

Aine Deande: All the things that you listed (except the lip-lock) are in the sketchy outline for the next thing I'm going to write *twitches painfully* if my writer's block will ease up. Thank you for reviewing!

lollylips3: Thank you!

AnnabelleElizabeth: Thank you for reviewing!

LadySnape: Thanks for the review!

Lily of the Shadow: I'll try to oblige, but my muse *sighs* has somehow disappeared. If you happen to see him ... tell him to come home! Thank you for reviewing!

Rhianna: Thanks for the review!

And to anyone who reviews in the future - Thank you!