A/N Hello everyone and welcome! This is my first ever fanfiction, and I hope you can all bear with me, I promise I will learn more as I write! I'm not sure yet how long this story will be, but I'm suspecting somewhere around 15 chapters. I'll be updating as often as I can, and you needn't worry, I do have some chapters already in store. If you're here for the lemons, I'm afraid you'll have some waiting to do. The rating for this story might change later on, so be warned. This story is more about the development of a surprising friendship, later on partnership. But I'll promise to give you some fluff in between. These first few chapters will contain mostly necessary stuff for the plot line, but I promise it'll get better. Now, enjoy!
Also if there's any beta reader interested in viewing my chapters, I'd be glad if you contacted me! I must warn you all, I'm not a native speaker, so there might be some mistakes from time to time, but I promise to do my best!
Disclaimer: These beautiful characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and sadly I am just borrowing them for my own amusement. (And also because I believe Snape deserved a second chance)
Three years since defeating the Dark Lord, Hogwarts is finally ready to welcome new generations of students. Amongst them is also one Hermione Granger, not returning as a student but as a newly graduated potions mistress. After settling in, she discovers a book in her new chambers, and is shocked to find that she can communicate with the long dead Slytherin Potions master. As their relationship evolves, the bold Gryffindor starts having issues with accepting the demise of her one time Professor. Can the smartest witch of her generation solve the unsolvable? Is the enigmatic Professor really dead, after all?
"I cannot begin to tell you how glad I truly am to be welcoming you back, my dear", Minerva McGonagall exclaimed as she wrapped her arms around Hermione Granger for the second time that morning. "I'm truly relieved I found such a marvelous replacement for Professor Slughorn as well as someone to take care of our Gryffindors."
"It's good to be back, Professor", Hermione returned as she sighed in the heart warming embrace from the witch she had come to miss in the three busy years since they last were able to have a nice conversation face to face. "Oh, but you don't go by that title anymore, do you, Headmistress?", she emphasised the new title as she retreated from her arms.
"Don't be silly. You may call me whatever you'd prefer, although I'd like for you to call me just Minerva. We are colleagues now, after all, aren't we?", Minerva reminded her, giving her a humoured glance. "Now, shall I introduce you to your new living quaters?", the Headmistress continued as she looped her hand through the new Potions Mistress slash Head of Gryffindors, and started towards the nearest stairs that let down the castle. "I must be certain though, dear, are you absolutely positive about staying in the dungeons? We have made some arrangements to the heating systems down there, so it shouldn't be as drafty as it used to be, but I'm sure you would enjoy yourself better in somewhere less… somber and eerie. As I said earlier, we have new staff rooms on the third floor…"
"I'm sure I'll manage, Professor, Minerva. The chill won't bother me, I'm able to use magic, after all. What comes to the eerieness, I guess I'll just have to adapt. Besides, I'll be closer to my classroom and office, as well as have an opportunity to brew whenever I like. This is assuming your new staff rooms don't include their own Potions Labs as well", Hermione interrupted, a small smirk playing across her lips.
Minerva frowned slightly, but couldn't argue her points. She replied thoughtfully, "I'm afraid not, although I still think…"
"Excuse me for interrupting you again, Minerva, but I'm convinced I'll make myself at home in the dungeons. I also heard some rumours that the previous resident has gifted his rather extensive collection of books for the next Potions Professor, and honestly, I can't wait to get my hands on those" Hermione explained enthusiastically, already planning on reading each and every one. "I must admit thought, I was a bit surprised Professor Slughorn would do that, I never took him for the reader type, nor exactly the generous either...", she was distracted from her musings as her company came to a sudden halt. She met the Headmistresses' eyes with a puzzled look, which was met by an attentive frown.
"Yes, the rumours are somewhat true, Hermione. The study in the dungeons as well as your new office do include a vast collection of books, some of them very valuable and rare. But the thing is, those books didn't come from Professor Slughorn. In fact, I bet he hasn't had one in his possession for years…", Hermione watched as Minerva diverted her stern gaze from hers and straightened her robes. "Actually, they were all left... useless by a Potions Professor before him…", The rest of the sentence was no louder than a whisper as Minerva's voice drifted into silence.
Hermione understood her reluctance to talk about the subject they were getting dangerously close to. Talking about the events of the war was still a sore subject for anyone who had been included in the horrors, and now, seeing her old Professor struggling with her own words made Hermione's heart clench. To this day, the biggest issue still dividing the crowd's opinions was the mystery of the Death Eater revealed to be a Spy for the Order. There had been a lot of controversy surrounding the enigma that had been Severus Snape, and it had had its affect on the people who had been closest around him, then and now. There were still a handful of people defending his honor, like Harry Potter himself, but lately they had arrived to the conclusion that the war was still too freshly on the Wizarding World's mind.
Hermione suspected Minerva was still feeling guilty about not being able to do anything for her colleague while he was still alive and silently struggling during the war, as well as anger towards the late Headmaster, who hadn't let her in on any of the mess surrounding their war spy. She had made a visible effort to clear the late Professor Snape's reputation by giving statements on behalf of the school staff and by fighting for him to get some kind of recognition for the sacrafices he made.
After the war, Hermione had tried to continue living her life as normally as she could, without paying much of a thought to her late Professor. She had been devastated at the time, of course, being a witness to his horrible end, but the feeling had been mutual to all of the death she'd witnessed that atrocious day. For the last three years, she had been studying intensely, and had graduated last summer with well deserved honors. She had decided, as had many of her peers, that there would be no sense in waiting for Hogwarts to be reopened or attending to a different school for just a year. So, she had decided to continue her studies in a university, which she chose according to the subject she had found the most intriguing while still in Hogwarts. After graduating, she had sent an owl to Minerva after hearing about her decision to open Hogwarts again the coming fall. Minerva had been more than happy to welcome Hermione back, after all, she had been in desperate need for a Potions Professor after Slughorn's retirement.
Hermione had continued dating Ron after the war, their relationship being more on the account of need that want. They had both supported each other through the worst times after the war, but to this day, he still weren't the same after losing his brother. He would still wake up in the middle of the night, scaring Hermione out of her slumber, screaming his brothers name and struggling against the bed covers. These days, Hermione felt that their relationship seemed to base itself more on Ron's needs for her constant care taking rather than on a ground of mutual affections and support. Not to mention the lack of passion. However, there were good days when Ron would be his old silly self, giving her random kisses and surprising her by taking her to a lovely dinner. Those days, Hermione would be reminded how she really loved Ron, very dearly. After a year of dating, they had found a small flat together close to The Ministry of Magic, where Ron had went through a two-year training and was now working as a full time auror. Their living situation was about to change now, though, as Hermione had decided to return to Hogwarts, which meant she would be a permanent resident of the school for the coming year. Ron had been more than a little upset about her leaving him to his own devices for a great amount of time, but Hermione had insisted that this is what she really wanted, and that they would be seeing each other plenty. She didn't want to admit to herself that she was feeling oddly relieved about not having to keep a watch on his boyfriend 24/7.
Now, being back at Hogwarts, exactly one week before the students would be arriving, she found herself contemplating an issue she hadn't really given a thought before. Not only would she be occupying the same rooms as the traitor-branded Severus Snape had, but she was also finding it hard to fathom the unexpected feelings surrounding the very same fact. Right now, she felt quite unsettled by the thought. She had nothing against the Professor, hadn't had since she'd learned the truth about his actions during the war from what Harry had witnessed from his memories. In fact, if she were being totally honest, she'd always carried respect for him, even before the war, despite the way he had treated her and all of her friends. He had been an intelligent and a very powerful wizard after all, and who was Hermione to not be even slightly impressed by that.
But he was a foul bastard, remember?
Yes, I am very much aware of that, thank you. But I always thought there must have been something under all that… bastardness.
You're right. Probably more bastardness.
Oh shut up, won't you. That is no way of talking about the dead. He deserves at least that much.
Frankly, she did feel bad for the fate that had fell upon him. If Hermione Granger believed in anything, it was in the fact that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter what. Except maybe Voldemort, she reminded herself.
She hadn't even noticed between her distracted thoughts that at some point they had resumed walking, and she was now met by the heavy oak door which would lead her to her new living premises. They must've spent rest of their walk in silence, for she had been so deep in her musings, but that didn't seem to bother the Headmistress who had released her hand and was now looking at her with fresh concern marring her aging, nevertheless eloquent face. Hermione realised she had never replied, and tried to come up with something to say.
"I… I didn't realize… The books… I just assumed...", Hermione started, fiddling with the fabric of her robe sleeves while not meeting her colleagues eyes. "It makes perfect sense though", she managed to get out after struggling for a while, "I remember seeing him read during our classes, when we were busy doing our assignments on more than one occasion. And then there was the whole Half Blood Prince thing..."
Minerva turned her gaze to the corridor they had supposedly just walked from, as if waiting to see someone there. "Yes, he always was fond of reading, ever since he was a student here. I sometimes had to look out for him, or he would have fallen down the stairs or bumped onto walls, that's how far he had his nose stuck on his books", Minerva mused with a small nostalgic smile on her thin lips. She turned her gaze back to Hermione and added with another smile, which was filled with warmth, "Actually, I think you two would have made quite a team had you been students at the same time. Or even now as colleagues, had he…", she shook her head slowly before continuing, "Well, only Merlin knows".
That made Hermione respond with a small smile of her own. "Indeed, only Merlin knows".
Their eye contact remained for a bit longer, both knowing the complicated thoughts and emotions they shared towards the complicated spy.
Minerva finally broke the contact by reaching for the handle and letting them into the rooms.
They were met by darkness, and with a swish of her hand, Minerva lit up the torches lining the walls, igniting the dark space with warm coloring. Hermione studied the room with curious eyes. First impression was surprisingly inviting, despite the fact that most of the decorations were in Slytherin green. That was no wonder, the two previous residents had been the Heads of the very same house, after all.
But why not change them now? Surely it's weird to keep such things, when everything else in the castle had clearly been restored. Besides, the theme was hardly appropriate, since the next resident could have been from any house?
Just as she was. The first thing she'd have to do would be to add some well needed Gryffindor red to her new living quarters. What caught her attention next was the expansive fireplace on the far right wall, now burning with fierce fire. She then took in the matching mahogany colored furnishing; the wide work table on the far left wall of the room, the small sitting area right in front of them with a sofa and two comfortable looking armchairs. She wondered for a brief moment if Professor Snape had been the one responsible for the elegantly matching furnishing. She hardly thought Professor Slughorn would have any eye for decorating, whatsoever. What struck her the most, however, was what she saw surrounding the room. Every single wall was covered with bookshelves, same matching mahogany, from the ground to the ceiling. The shelves were clearly overfilled, books piled side to side and on top of each other. An excited jolt went through her spine, she was going to enjoy roaming through those tomes immensely.
As if Minerva were able to read her thoughts, she commented, "Wait till you see the office, my dear, there's twice as many. Honestly, someone should go through all of them and decide which are worth saving."
Shooting a quick glance at the older woman's direction, she stepped forward to drag her hand across the back of the black leather sofa on her new sitting area. She turned back to Minerva, who was still standing by the door, and noticed a small drink cabinet right next to her.
"I'm sure you're exhausted by now, my dear. Let me show you your bedroom and bathroom, and I'll be out of your hair. You have your luggage with you, yes?", Minerva said nodding towards the wall behind her. Hermione spun around to find a door, which she hadn't seen at first and that would supposedly lead her to her bedrooms.
She turned back and nodded to Minerva. "Yes, I've got everything I need. Right... here", she said as she reached into her robe pocket and displayed three shrinked bags.
"Very well. If you would then…?" Minerva nodded as she made her way to the door and opened it for her.
The first thing she saw was a huge four poster bed in the middle of the room, against the far back. The same color theme was dominating the room, which was certainly not big, by all means, but was very convenient for her needs. It had two more bookshelves on the left wall as well as a smaller writing desk. On the right wall there were two drawers for clothing and another door, which would no doubt lead her to her restroom. There was a smaller fireplace on their left, on the wall that was separating the living room from her bedroom.
"I believe you will see to your nightly routine, then. Good night dear, I will see you tomorrow at eight o'clock in the Great Hall for the first staff meeting", as she spoke, Minerva had turned to leave, but halted her movement as she reached the door out of her new rooms. "Oh, and if you're hungry or need anything, the house elf responsible for the dungeons and the health of its residents goes by the name Lori. Good night now", and so she was out with a whirl of her robes.
Hermione took one more look around her and then closed the door of her bedroom, planning to get straight to bed. She placed her luggages on her bed, and took her wand out of her robe pocket to enlarge her belongings. She had taken with her one bag of clothing and some necessary stuff for her hygiene, one of her personal brewing equipment as well as teaching material,though she doubted she'd be needing any of those. The third bag was filled with some stuff to help her decorate the rooms for her liking and a legit amount of books.
She set her wand to the bedside table and grabbed her toilet bag and a lavender nightgown from her bag, ready to settle in for the night. She would have plenty of time to unpack her stuff and do some snooping around the next day after the staff meeting.
When she returned from the bathroom, which had a nice standing shower and was clean to her liking, she walked to her new bed and lifted the covers to discover clean bedsheets, no doubt made by the house elves. She lit the small fireplace for warmth and after settling in, she drew the covers up to her neck and closed her eyes. As she fell deeper in her slumber, she couldn't help but wonder if she was now occupying the exact same spot her raven haired professor once had. A cold shiver went through her body at that thought.
If you keep thinking about that kind of stuff you will never be able to sleep, you daft girl! Of course this is where he would have slept! Where else do you think he'd rather had laid his head? On the floor?
She turned to lay on her side and squeezed her eyes shut tighter, as if shutting herself from her eerie thoughts. Of course there would be no way of doing that. The problem with having a brilliant brain was that there was no way of shutting it down. Ever.
This was certainly going to be a long night for her.
A/N Thank you for reading, I'd appreciate your thoughts on my story! Until next chapter!