Year One: The Beginning

Hogwarts was nothing like Hermione had ever imagined. She didn't think she would have ever been able to even dream it up; it was so magnificent.

At the young age of eleven, she had gotten the surprise of her lifetime when a severe looking woman named Professor McGonagall had appeared on her doorstep with answers to her questions involving strange events in her life and a letter of invitation to some magical school with her name in cursive on it.

But it was an entirely different concept now that she was actually there. The castle was so beautiful; literally magical. Hogwarts: A History had told her enough about it. She had even read it five times. And she found herself swelling with the different emotions bouncing around inside of her tiny body at the new sights surrounding her.

This was the turning point of her entire existence. She was a witch. She was going to learn actual spells and potions and take in as much as her thriving mind could take.

She walked into the Great Hall, staring knowingly at the ceiling she had heard so much about in Hogwarts: A History. She even commented on it to the girl next to her who had been staring in awe and amazement at it. Hermione loved being able to spread her knowledge with others. Especially now when it came to magic. She wanted to know as much as she could about it anyways.

Looking around at her new peers for a moment, she snapped back to the front of the hall as she listened politely to Professor McGonagall and the Sorting Hat's song, before watching the sorting ceremony start until finally she heard-

"Granger, Hermione."

She rushed up the stairs in a hurry, eager to see where she'd finally belong. Where she would call home for the next seven years. As the hat was placed on top of her curls, she listened to the foreign voice inside her head debate with itself, trying to pinpoint where she would be best suited.

"Hmm… a Ravenclaw longing to learn, a Slytherin mind, Hufflepuff loyalty, and a Gryffindor heart. What a complication you are. I suppose I'll have to leave it up to you. You only get to pick once so you better make it count."

Hermione's heart was racing. All four houses? She'd fit into all four houses? How was she supposed to choose? The hat was supposed to choose for her!

"Doesn't work that way, missy," the hat reminded her. "So what's your decision?"

It didn't take Hermione too long to decide. Ravenclaw sounded lovely; she'd always loved books. And cleverness and loyalty were admirable traits as well. But didn't bravery and courage sound wonderful? To be able to have friends and support them. To speak her mind. To protect and help others with her knowledge. That's all she wanted.

"As I suspected. Well then, better be – Gryffindor!"

Beaming, Hermione flounced off the stool after the hat was removed and sat herself next to a redhead with a large P on his chest. Most likely a Prefect. She'd be able to ask him loads of questions later.

When the ceremony was finally over, Hermione saw her chance to interrogate the Prefect next to her, who she learned was named Percy Weasley, older brother to the boy she had met earlier on the train. They discussed the curriculum and what she'd better be prepared to study for her first year until Hermione saw the chance to ask the question she had been really curious about.

"What about the professors?" This question seemed to glean a lot of surrounding attention, especially from other first years who were wondering the same thing as she. Percy briefly explained each professor, letting them know the key points about the ones they'll have this year.

McGonagall: Head of Gryffindor House, but unbiased (unless it comes to Quiddich). Very strict and rule oriented but polite and respectful to everyone. She teaches Transfiguration. Hermione didn't think she'd have too much trouble with her.

Flitwick: Head of Ravenclaw House, very friendly and bubbly, part goblin. He teaches Charms and Hermione knew she'd flourish in that class. He seemed like the kind of professor who would greatly appreciate her intelligence, especially as a former Ravenclaw.

Sinistra: Astronomy Professor, most didn't have anything bad to say about her, but nothing overtly positive either. Though many older male students admitted to having something of a crush on her. Hermione had rolled her eyes; boys were so transparent.

Sprout: Head of Hufflepuff House, also friendly and a well-liked instructor. She was the Herbology teacher and while Hermione had never been very interested in plants, she didn't see herself having a problem with this course either.

Quirrell: The current Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. Apparently no one lasted longer than a year for some strange reason but this man didn't look like he'd last a week. He was trembling so hard Hermione could see him shake from her seat.

Snape: Head of Slytherin House and Potion's Master. No one had a single good thing to say about him. Biased against anyone who isn't Slytherin, but especially Gryffindors. Very strict, no-nonsense sort of man. Most only had insults to hurl at him instead of anything useful that Hermione could have used. Like how to gain his approval.

And finally there was Professor Dolohov. Percy seemed kind of reluctant to talk about the serious looking man sitting on the other side of Professor McGonagall. But he told the listening group of first years that he was the Magical Theory Professor, but that for the first four years of their schooling, he'd be teaching them the history of magic.

Hermione tried to press him for more information; history was one of her favorite subjects when she was still in a Muggle school. Those surrounding them pestered him with questions as well until he finally relented,

"Alright, alright! He's not a bad professor, very fair if anything. And he does teach an interesting subject. It's just the rumors about him that give him a bad reputation."

"Rumors?" An Irish boy sitting across the table from Hermione asked. Percy tried ignoring the question but his younger twin brothers were apparently more than happy to answer the question in his stead,

"You lot are talking about Dolohov, right?"

"Use to be a Death Eater, he did."

"Part of You-Know-Who's Inner Circle."

"No one knows why he left though."

"They don't even know why he's here."

"All we know is that he's a dangerous bloke-"

They finished in unison, "And you don't wanna be on his bad side."

A brief silence fell over their section of the table before the boy Hermione knew to be Harry Potter spoke up and asked, "If he's so dangerous… why is he a professor?"

But no one answered his question, and with another look up to the Head Table, Hermione watched the dark man continue to eat his food in absolute silence, his gaze never leaving the vicinity of the table.

The thoughts of the dark professor vanished as her classes began though.

Her first few classes were utterly fascinating but by Wednesday, Hermione was ready for more. And luckily that morning they would have their very first History of Magic class with the reputed Professor Dolohov. Most of the talk she had heard about him was only rumors like from the welcoming feast. No one had any proof that he was anything but a qualified instructor, so Hermione decided she was excited for his class regardless.

As the Gryffindor first years made their way to his classroom on the 3rd floor, the only current open classroom on that floor, they saw the Slytherins already waiting outside of the closed door. They looked irritated at having to wait, but when one of her housemates asked if the door was unlocked, no one answered.

They stood outside the room for close to five minutes, and class was due to begin any minute now. Hermione felt herself growing overly annoyed at the fact that no one had just checked to see if he was already in the classroom. Just as she debated on doing it herself, she felt the others around her go dead quiet.

"Is there a reason," she heard a deep masculine voice sound from directly behind her, "That we've all conjugated outside of my door?"

The students surrounding her shuffled out of the way and Hermione felt herself taking several measured steps out of the way as well, only looking up as a dark figure swept past her and threw open the doors to the classroom.

Everyone scrambled in after him as they heard the same voice say, "Find a seat." Hermione already knew she wanted to be up front and immediately went to catch a seat before they were taken. She internally cheered as the desk directly front and center was still opened.

Getting herself settled and lowering her bag to the floor, she was ready to take all her materials out when the professor spoke yet again in his crisp yet low voice, "Take out only a single quill."

Hermione could feel the confusion and hesitation drifting around the room, but quickly did as he said, taking out the nicest quill she had gotten from Diagon Alley. When the rest of her peers had done the same, the voice sounded out again, "Trace your first and last name, in print, on the top of your desk."

Tentatively, the room followed his directions. Hermione meticulously made sure that the way she did it was clear, even though she couldn't really see what her work looked like. But whatever this test was, she was definitely going to pass it.

When it was finished, she set her quill down on her desk and looked up to see Professor Dolohov standing next to his desk, watching everyone else complete the simple task. This was her first time truly seeing him up close and it was completely different from afar.

He was a very tall man, she noticed. Not as tall as the half-giant Hagrid, but he had very long legs. And had very dark coloring. His hair and eyes were dark, his skin was a light olive shade, and even his robes were a deep burgundy.

She saw him glance out of the corner of his eye to something on his desk, before he picked up a piece of parchment lying on it. He gazed at it before briefly flicking his gaze up to sweep the classroom at different intervals. The wheels in Hermione's mind were turning as she tried to figure out what he was doing.

And then it hit her.

"Can anyone tell me what I've just done?" She heard the professor ask. Her hand instantly went straight up into the air. Her eyes met his and she saw him glance at the paper before saying, "Yes Miss Granger?"

She knew it. "You've just had us make a seating chart, sir." He looked at her for a moment longer before simply replying,

"Five points to Gryffindor."

Hermione was a little miffed that she hadn't received better praise for answering the question correctly, but accepted that she had received something for it. And House points were important to her housemates. She shook her mind clear though, when she heard the professor begin to speak again.

"In this class, until your fifth year, you will be learning the origins and properties of magic, and of the wizarding world that we currently inhabit. It is designed to induct you into the introduction of theory which is used in different forms of magic and the creation of new spells. Ultimately, it will prepare you for your 6th and 7th year N.E.W.T's."

He continued to explain several of the topics that they would be covering this year, most of which had to do with the origins of magic and Hermione was enraptured. This is what she wanted to know about, the world she was now a part of. And this would be the class to teach her all about it.

She was beside herself with glee.

And then she heard his voice drop even lower, if that were possible. "Now, I don't tend to have many personal rules about my classroom besides those that are already explicitly enforced, but there is one issue that I will not tolerate, argue, or ignore."

He several feet in front of her, his arms crossed as his serious expression gained the focus of every single student in the room. Was this what the Weasley twins had meant when they said he could be dangerous? The feel of the room just seemed to drop several degrees.

"There will be no bigotry in my presence, inside or outside of this room. I do not want to see any form of bullying, hear any slur of any kind, regardless of House, race, or birth." He seemed to glare in the direction of the Slytherins on the final word and Hermione felt herself shiver. She knew almost every school had a problem with bullies, but why did Professor Dolohov react so strongly to it?

But her silent question went unanswered as he resumed his previous explanation of the class itself. By the time he dismissed the class, the others seemed glad to be leaving the room but Hermione let herself linger a bit.

She watched Professor Dolohov lean over his desk, looking up something in a book, before she saw his gaze shift and lock onto her own. Hermione froze at the intensity she saw in his black eyes. Bottomless, was the first word that came to mind.

"Was there something you needed, Miss Granger?" She heard him ask, breaking her out of her trance. But what surprised her was that he didn't ask the question unkindly, but with what might have been curiosity.

"No, sir."

He nodded slightly before dropping his eyes back down to the text on his desk, "Then enjoy the rest of your day."

Perplexed, Hermione mumbled out a brief, "You too, professor," before walking out of his room. Maybe everyone was wrong about Professor Dolohov. He did seem to have that dark aura surrounding him, but he seemed very kind regardless. In a cool sort of way, she decided.

Yes, that was it. Professor Dolohov was just a bit off putting. Misjudged, if anything.

Another year.

Antonin repressed the sigh he had felt building in his lungs and instead took a drink of his tea. The new term had started a few weeks ago and he felt the same mundane routine setting in as the hours ticked by. The only thing deviating from the usual scenery of Hogwarts was the new first years.

Harry Potter was one of them. Trying not to outwardly sneer, Antonin dipped back into his breakfast, hoping that no one noticed his brief lapse.

It wasn't that he disliked the boy, like Snape obviously did. He just wished the boy had been born years before he had been. Maybe if he had destroyed the Dark Lord then, Antonin wouldn't be stuck living this life as a Hogwart's professor.

Or maybe he would be. Merlin knows that it could have been much, much worse. He could always be in Azkaban instead. But he had taken his mother's advice and fled to Dumbledore for sanctuary. And he had received it, at a price, of course.

He would teach the next generations of witches and wizards, protect them as was his duty, and never again associate with those suspected or proven to have had ties with the Dark side.

The latter he didn't have much of a problem with. He could live the rest of his life without seeing certain individuals ever again. Especially from that group of sycophants.

But now he was stuck. If he even thought about leaving his place in Hogwarts, he'd be under the scrutiny of the Ministry. Sadly, the Headmaster was the only reason that the Ministry had glazed over him and his suspected crimes after the Dark Lord fell.

Because why would the great Albus Dumbledore harbor a known Death Eater?

Sneaking a glance down the table, Antonin grimaced at the sight of Snape before returning to his breakfast. Why indeed, he thought bitterly.

Finishing the rest of meal in his usual silence, he stood from his seat and made his way to his classroom. He had Gryffindor and Slytherin first years today if his memory served correct. Which it usually did. Settling into his desk, he didn't bother looking up when the students began to trickle in, too busy going over his lecture notes for the next hour.

"Shut it, know-it-all. No one cares about the goblin rebellions anymore." Antonin's eyes shot up as he watched the youngest Weasley boy walk into the classroom followed closely by Potter with a glaring Miss Granger bringing up the rear.

"But goblins are still treated this way today! How can you not care about that in the slightest-"

"Because I just don't! And if you weren't so bloody obnoxious, you'd get that and leave me alo-"

"Fifteen points from Gryffindor," Antonin barked out, causing the two boys to start and drop their bags.

"What for-"

First years, he thought exasperatedly, "I do believe that I've stated before I don't enjoy repeating myself, Mr. Weasley. Now take your seat." As he watched the grumbling boy and his friend do as he said, he felt the familiar prickling sensation of someone watching him. Looking over, he met the big, brown eyes of the Granger girl. She visibly gathered herself and averted her eyes, taking her own seat in the front of the room.

Odd, he thought briefly before launching straight into his lecture. When he was finished, and assigned them quiet reading for the remainder of the class, Antonin sat at his desk and casually studied some of the students in the room.

He knew most of the Slytherins already, having worked closely with their parents and grandparents in the past. So, he shifted his attention back to the Gryffindors. Weasley, Longbottom, Patil, Potter, Brown, Finnegan, Thomas, Dunbar, and Granger…

Antonin didn't make a habit of noticing students past the professional setting. He never truly had that problem before, especially since no students ever really stood out to him. Occasionally he'd get the trouble maker who didn't want to follow his rules, but several weeks of detention with Filch usually solved that.

But now he was noticing this girl. Hermione Granger. He didn't purposely do it, she just… popped out at him. He could pick her out of crowd, not just because of her wild mane of curls, but because she was always alone. Perhaps that was the reason he paid so much attention to her. He understood what it was like to be alone. And he didn't like the fact an eleven-year-old girl was having to experience that feeling.

Especially since she was a Muggleborn and in her first year at a wizarding school. That transition alone was hard enough, but to have to go through it alone… Antonin wasn't use to feeling sympathy or concern, but in this case, he did. It wasn't the worse thing either; strange and tedious if anything.

But he just felt the urge to watch over her. Spurning him to take points from her own ignorant classmates, giving her extra points for questions that didn't require it, and just being respectful to her whenever he could. It wasn't much, but it made him feel slightly better when she smiled.

Shaking his head clear, he dismissed the class, sparing one last look at the girl's curly head before redirecting his attention to his next classes lecture on shared magic. Much more interesting than the establishment of magical monarchies.

Antonin did enjoy teaching to an extent, but he would rather be doing his own research or bettering himself as a wizard. There was still so much knowledge to gain and he didn't always possess the time to look into it between classes, patrols, and countless meetings. He usually did accomplish some over the summers but it wasn't as fulfilling as he had once pictured his life to be.

His inner musings of the life he could have had were interrupted as he heard a slight crashing sound outside of his closed doors and what appeared to be girlish giggles. Sighing, he pushed himself out of his chair and walked from behind his desk, taking measured steps to his door, still listening as he gripped the handle.

"What a klutz."

"Watch where you're going Granger." Yanking the door open, Antonin looked at the two Slytherin girl's standing in front of him. In his peripheral, he could see Miss Granger on the floor, picking up her scattered papers and books.

Narrowing his eyes at the skittish students, he growled out, "Twenty points from Slytherin. Remove yourselves from my vicinity before I decide to double it." The girls didn't have to be told twice and fled down the corridor, their shoes echoing around them. Antonin looked at the girl still struggling to pick up all of her belongings before softly uttering,

"Miss Granger." She paused her movements but didn't turn to look up at him. He could hear her trying to prevent the sniffles that continuously escaped from her. She was trying not to actively cry, he told himself. Especially not in front of him. He wasn't Sprout or even McGonagall. He didn't do crying students. He didn't comfort.

Instead, he crouched down next to her and told her to, "Open your bag." She tilted her head to look him in the eye, her little brows furrowing before she looked back down at the mess inside her small messenger bag. But she didn't question him and did as he said. And with a slight flick of his wrist and a whispered spell, all of the materials that had previously been spread across the floor outside his door were neatly arranging themselves back inside of her bag. The spilled ink returned inside their wells and floated into their respective pouches, the loose leaf parchment arranged themselves among her books, and finally the quills slid delicately into place before the leather flap closed the bag.

Standing back up, he offered the stunned girl, still on her knees, his hand. She looked at his extended limb for a moment before sliding her much smaller hand into his and allowing him to help her off of the castle floor. She was such a tiny thing, he noticed. Barely level with his chest. Those curls were all the place as well. But her eyes were intelligent. They were huge, filling up her small face, and reflected everything little emotion inside of them. She was truly a Gryffindor; they were never good at hiding whatever they were feeling.

"Thank you, Professor," he heard her whisper. She wiped the back of her hand across her face before looking back up at him, freely meeting his own gaze. The corners of her eyes were a little shiny, but she didn't look on the brink of tears anymore.

"Your welcome, Miss Granger," he responded politely. He watched as she seemed to heave the now organized bag onto her shoulder. How heavy was it? She was positively straining underneath of it. He had seen several different texts and concluded that it was most likely weighed down by them.

Merlin knows why he cares. Or why he said what he did next. "Take out your wand, Miss Granger." She looked up at him in surprise but did as he asked. "Now point it at your bag and say 'Leviore'." She did and he could visibly see her back straighten as the weight on her shoulder decreased substantially.

"Wha- What was that, Professor?" She asked, looking up at him in complete awe. Antonin shifted slightly at the change in her expression before explaining,

"The Lightened Load charm. Works on most inanimate objects, except ones that already have magical properties or curses on them." She continued to stare up at him like he had just been the one to tell her that she was a witch. Growing uncomfortable, he turned to go back to his classroom, but not before reminding her, "Don't you have Herbology soon, Miss Granger?"

He heard her audibly gasp and throw out a hasty, "Thank you again professor," before her footsteps disappeared down the corridor. It wasn't until he was in the privacy of his empty room that Antonin allowed himself to crack a brief smile.

First years.

Hermione wasn't that disconcerted that she hadn't made any friends yet. It was the same problem she had had in regular Muggle school. The only difference here was that her peers didn't really respect the fact that she was intelligent…

It caused her a lot of stress and made her something of a target for anyone and everyone. Thinking back to one particular day, she remembered the humility she felt when those two Slytherin girls had tripped her outside of the classroom. They had continued to laugh and kick her belongings across the floor and it took all of her determination not to cry.

And to her embarrassment, that was how Professor Dolohov had found her. Kneeling on the floor, close to tears, while she was being laughed at. But true to his word, he had docked points and send her tormentors running.

Then he had helped her… At eye level, Hermione thought the professor to be very distinguished looking. She decided he had a handsome face, and on closer inspection, his eyes weren't black, just a very dark brown. And he was kind, in his own way. He didn't offer soothing words or anything of the like, but instead helped her in his own way.

The spell he had told her about was very handy as well. She could be able to use it frequently, especially with all the books she enjoyed borrowing from the library. So, Hermione checked another box on her mental list about Professor Dolohov. Misjudged, respectful, polite, and kind. He wasn't perfect, she noted. Withdrawn, often brooding even, and his ability to flip like a switch and be seen as a dangerous person were concerning. It especially didn't help the rumors about him. But, to her, the positives made up for the negatives.

Plus, his class was one of the more interesting ones.

Sure, most of her peers probably loved Transfiguration and Charms, and she did as well, but for a Muggleborn, learning about the world she was part of now was more important than wand waving.

Smiling to herself, Hermione left the library and prepared to head to Transfiguration. She wanted to be one of the first people there so that she could ask Professor McGonagall about something she had just read about today in one of the many books she had devoured before class.

Until she found herself stuck on the moving staircases.

Huffing in frustration, she debated on just jumping to reach the set she needed to be on, when the one she was currently on turned in the complete opposite direction, connecting to the stairs coming from the third floor.

Hermione was hanging onto the bannister with dear life but looked up when the sound of footfalls descended the now adjourning stairwell. She recognized the dark figure immediately and sheepishly said,

"Hello Professor Dolohov…" He stepped onto the staircase she had found herself stuck on and paused, looking down at her with his usual composed expression.

"Don't you have class in a few minutes Miss Granger?" He asked slowly, holding her gaze as the stairwell began to move again at random. Hermione tightened her grip on the bannister but the professor merely stood there, not even swaying as they moved.

"Yes, sir, Transfiguration. But I've gotten… stuck…" She saw him raise an eyebrow and look from her to the railing she was holding onto for dear life.

"To the bannister?" Hermione breathed out a small laugh at his slight jest and shook her head before answering,

"No, sir. On the staircase." He nodded his head in understanding, before asking,

"How many times have you read Hogwarts: A History, Miss Granger?" What? Hermione didn't get why he was asking her that at this moment. But responded promptly,

"Five times, sir." Again, he merely gave a small nod and asking another question,

"And what do you remember about the section regarding the castle itself? Chapter Eight, I believe." Hermione racked her brain her a moment and as the realization hit her, she released the bannister and turning her entire body to face the older wizard.

"The castle's sentient!" And the staircase began to slow down, almost like it had heard her. She looked back up and notice the shadow of a smile on Professor Dolohov's face.

"Indeed it is. So then, where did you want to go, Miss Granger?"

Eagerly, Hermione blurted out, "I need to get to the sixth floor before I'm late for class." And the staircase lurched forward at her demands, throwing her directly into her professor's chest.

When the stairwell finally ceased moving, Hermione pulled away from the older man hesitantly, almost afraid to see his reaction. "Miss Granger…" She heard him begin and closed her eyes, expecting punishment for her actions.

"The staircases take promptness very seriously. Next time, you merely just have to politely inform them where you'd like to go." Was there a teasing edge to his tone? Hermione opened her eyes and looked up, but the professor was already going down the stairs, away from her.

"Professor," she started, causing him to stop and turn towards her slightly. "That spell you told me about the other day… Could it be used on people?" She hadn't been able to find anything about the spell in any of the textbooks she had gone through and this question had been driving her crazy.

"It could… But the side effects can be," he paused, searching for the right word. "Strange."

"Oh." She shuffled slightly before looking back at his waiting expression. "Thank you again, sir."

"Not a problem, Miss Granger." And then he was leaving again, traveling down the staircases as the realigned to meet him. Hermione watched him for a few moments longer before remembering that she did indeed have class and could be late if she didn't hurry.

Everyone was wrong about Professor Dolohov, she thought as she climbed the responding staircases. How could anyone as kind as him do anything so evil like be a Death Eater for You-Know-Who? Preposterous.

It was Halloween night. A troll was found to be inside the castle. And now Antonin found himself standing in a girl's bathroom, staring at Miss Granger, Messrs. Weasley and Potter, and an unconscious mountain troll.

McGonagall was asking them what had happened, as was her duty as Deputy Headmistress and the three's Head of House. Snape was inspecting the unconscious beast and Antonin, well, he was watching Miss Granger lie threw her teeth.

It was only to protect the two idiot boys beside her, but still… It caused an irrational anger to boil beneath the surface of his skin. She was lying to him; lying to protect them.

Besides being pointless to lie to a man who had tortured and murdered people for a living, just the thought of her wasting her potential, her future, just to protect these two miscreants was enough to give him the urge to strangle them before such a tragedy could occur.

Antonin resisted the impulse to groan and cover his face in his hands. Why the bloody hell was a first year, slip of girl causing previous violent tendencies to reappear in him? He had gone twelve years without thinking too much on the subject and now he suddenly wanted to wrap his hands around the necks of two eleven-year-olds and watch the life leave their eyes?

Merlin and Morgana… What was happening to him?

He knew he was dangerous man but to children? He'd never even considered harming a child before, let alone having done so. Antonin liked to think he wasn't an absolute monster. Though maybe he was. These violent thoughts directed at schoolboys over a bloody chit of a girl were more than enough proof.

And more importantly, why did he even care? Who his students chose to be friends with was of no concern to him. Especially not this one. If anything, he should be glad that she won't be alone anymore. But the tiny voice in the back of his mind just had to point out that he had been helping her well enough.

"I'm very disappointed with you, Miss Granger. Now return to your dormitory. I'm sure Professor Dolohov will be gracious enough to escort you there." No. No Professor Dolohov does not want to be gracious in this moment. He's a little busy having a mental struggle at the moment.

Turning around and exiting the restroom, he allowed himself to outwardly scowl as he made certain the soft footsteps of his student stayed well behind him. He wasn't in the mood to explain his frustration to the girl who was apparently causing it.

So they walked through the corridors, the only sound coming from the echo of their steps; his steady and hers frantic. He knew he walking quickly, it was natural for him to take long strides, so he slowed slightly. He heard her breath of relief as her steps began to sound less hurried. Bloody hell… Now he was adjusting the way he walked for this girl?

Finally, they were approaching Gryffindor Tower and Antonin could return to his room to indulge himself in several strong glasses of firewhiskey. After the day he had, he thought he deserved it.

But nothing could be that simple.

Just as he was about to turn and leave the girl to her dorm, he caught the quiet tones of, "I'm sorry if I've disappointed you as well, Professor Dolohov…" He wanted to groan, but thankfully had enough self-control to stifle that.

"I'm not disappointed at the events that occurred, Miss Granger. I'm disappointed that you lied." To me, his traitorous brain added. He turned slightly and saw her hang her head in embarrassment.

"They saved my life, sir…" He cursed Gryffindor honor.

"It doesn't give you an excuse-" He started angrily, but stopped himself. He was angry, furious really, and incredibly frustrated, but he would not take that out of her. Not little Hermione Granger who never looked at him in fear or distrust.

Her wide eyes were staring directly at him now, tears beginning to well up in them yet again. Only this time, he suspected he was an added cause to it.

"In the future, Miss Granger, refrain from at least lying to me," he compromised with her. She seemed to perk up at his words in any case. Or maybe it was just because he had taken a softer tone with her. Still… he couldn't stop the increase in annoying questions from bouncing around his exhausted mind. Most of them having to do with why he was even compromising in the first place.

"Yes, professor, but…" She frowned slightly before asking, "Why only you?"

"Because I can tell." Final. And she appeared to accept his words as she nodded and wished him a goodnight before disappearing behind the Fat Lady's portrait.

Antonin walked through the halls, wondering what sins he had committed to enter this new level of hell.

Like he didn't already know.

The end of her first year appeared quicker than Hermione had thought possible. After the whole debacles with Snape, Fluffy, and Quirrell/You-Know-Who, Hermione was ready for a summer break. But, at least she had made friends. Harry and Ron weren't what she had expected, but she appreciated them nonetheless.

They made her feel like Hogwarts was much more of home than before.

There was so much to love about the school, from the classes and abundance of knowledge she could acquire, to the different quirks of the castle itself, to the various people she had met and gotten to interact with on a day-to-day basis.

Her housemates had grown on her after the incident during Halloween and she felt much more included amongst her fellow Gryffindors. Though maybe being on Fred and George Weasley's good side wasn't so different from their bad side… Oh well, at least they were still nice about it.

And the Professors were amazing as well. Especially since Snape didn't turn out to be such a horrible man in the end. Though she could see how Harry would get the idea. He certainly wasn't the most pleasant man. Very surly, just as Percy Weasley had warned her during the welcoming feast months ago.

Although he had been very wrong about Professor Dolohov. After her professor had warned her against lying to him Halloween night, she felt a new found bout of respect for the man. All of his classes were engaging and full of useful information. He himself was obviously a brilliant wizard. And he was such a kind man.

He was very talented and perceptive and Hermione could only hope to reach that level one day. It seemed like a good skill set to possess. She wondered if he might teach her to detect lies one day…

She smiled slightly, thinking that there would be plenty of time for that later on. She still had another six years to look forward to after all.

Hermione couldn't wait to experience it all.