Understanding

Chapter 1: Out with the old and in with the new

I couldn't help thinking that things were never going to be the same again. The tower I'd lived in, during term time, for the past seven years. The room I had lived in for the past two years, both of which I would perhaps never see again. It startled me then to think just how many of my memories had taken place in this tower, and how little I could recall of my life without magic, before I had come to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

All of the places I had wanted to visit, all the things I had wanted to do when I was a grown up adult in the big wide world, which had seemed so clear cut, so real, back when Ron, Harry and I would discuss our futures excitedly in front of a roaring fire in the Gryffindor common room, while the two of them played wizarding chess and I puzzled over arithmancy equations. We'd gradually begun to stop talking about it when the far future started to look so much more like the very near future, at around last Christmas time.

I can't deny that I was excited, but a big part of the excitement was definitely apprehension. It was always the unknown that I was afraid of. When I knew what was coming, I could always handle it. If my future had been all mapped out in some kind of desk job at the Ministry, I would have had no doubts that I would have been able to cope with whatever was thrown my way. However, my path was anything but mapped out, so I found myself on that morning of the 30th June, lying in my four poster bed, not quite able to open my eyes and acknowledge that at 3pm that afternoon, my old life would end, and my new life would begin, almost unrecognisable from the life I had lead previously.

That morning, I was perhaps the most nervous, and excited I had ever felt before then. Because what was to come was that I was, that afternoon, to leave school and begin my new life as an Unspeakable for the Department of Mysteries. The war against Voldemort was gathering pace, and Unspeakables were headhunted from birth for their special abilities, the nature of which I had no idea. I had received my acceptance letter from the Department of Mysteries on my 18th birthday last September, and had been able to tell no one, not even my parents. Professor Dumbledore had been informed of my future career, but everyone else was under the assumption that I would be travelling the world, conducting research into arithmancy, which accounts for why they will see me so rarely.

After I had spent far too long pondering over things, I wrenched open the scarlet and gold hangings around my bed, finding a barn owl perched patiently on my bed side table, presumably coming up to find me after discovering that I wasn't present at breakfast. After having given my eyes a few seconds to adjust to the bright sunlight which glanced in through the window, I took the parchment tied around the owl's leg and offered it a handy owl treat. I sat back on the bed and unfolded the parchment.

Dear Miss Granger,

I would be delighted if you would join me in my office for a short meeting at 10am. Please bring your Department of Mysteries Handbook.

Kind regards, Albus Dumbledore

I put the letter aside and looked at my watch. It was 9:30. I had a quick shower, dressed and made my way through the corridors to the Headmasters office. The stone gargoyle moved aside as I approached it, and I stepped onto the moving spiral staircase. Once the staircase stopped, I was greeted by the magnificent sight of Professor Dumbledore's office. This had always been one of my favourite places in the school, apart from the library, obviously. The circular room was filled with all kinds of odd contraptions, portraits and the beautiful red and gold Fawkes in one corner. I could see that Professor Dumbledore clearly wasn't there, however the long black hair of Professor Snape was visible, in front of Dumbledore's mahogany desk, peering over a book.

I cleared my throat to make my presence known, at which he looked up quickly, nodded vaguely in my direction and looked back to the book. I took the empty chair next to him and waited, my innate Gryffindor curiosity immediately wanting to know what he was reading, where was Professor Dumbledore and what Professor Snape was doing in my meeting with Dumbledore. However, from experience I knew not to ask questions of this particular teacher, especially when he's busy. Minutes later, I heard a whooshing sound and Professor Dumbledore appeared suddenly in the roaring flames, which had turned bright emerald green.

'Ah, Hermione, nice to see you. I'm sorry I'm late. Would you like a sherbet lemon?'

He asked as he sat down opposite me, offering a silver bowl full of the sweets.

'Yes, thank you.' I answered, taking one and unwrapping it.

'Now, unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, no one will be available for your brief at the Department of Mysteries this afternoon. I will give you what information I can, and Severus here will inform you of anything you find you need to know, as it comes up.'

'Er, what….' I started, my eyes flicking between the two Professors.

'I am sorry,' Professor Dumbledore stepped in, smiling 'I'd overlooked the fact that you aren't aware of our status. Both Severus and I are Unspeakables also. Now, after the Graduation Ceremony, you are to go with Severus to what will be your base, via the Department of Mysteries.'

'Er, my base, or our base?' I asked worriedly, my eyes shifting to Professor Snape.

'The two of you will be working together. Unspeakables always work in pairs, for their own safety.'

I locked eyes with Professor Snape. We gaped at each other in horror.

'Albus….' He said threateningly, just as I said 'Professor….'

'It was not my decision.' He cut in quickly 'The Department of Mysteries always partners people for mutual benefit, you know that. I suggest you make the best of your situation, rather than complaining about it.'

I looked at the floor, knowing he was right, but definitely not happy about it.

'Now, I wish you both luck in your task. You may use this fire to floo to the Department of Mysteries. Now, we have a Graduation Ceremony to attend, I believe.'

'Thanks, Professor.' I said, getting up to leave.

'Oh, could I have your handbook, I'll need to activate it.'

'Yes, of course.'

I undid the chain around my neck and passed the tiny, feather-light golden book to Professor Dumbledore. Professor Snape also got up to leave, nodded to Dumbledore, and walked towards the door. I followed. He opened the door, pausing as if to let me through first. I hesitated for a moment, waiting for my brain to get into action and move out of the door. As I finally started to move, He gave up on me actually going through the door and made to go out himself, resulting in us colliding into one another, the swinging door pushing us out as both of us tutted loudly at the same time. I looked back to see Professor Dumbledore grinning stupidly after us before nearly breaking my neck as the staircase suddenly began to descend.

Once at the bottom the stone gargoyle moved aside, and we moved past it. I felt I had to say something, so I took a deep breath and began.

'Professor, look, I know that neither of us is happy about this,' He snorted 'But Dumbledore's right, isn't he. We're…' I swallowed 'Colleagues now, after all. We're both going to have to make an effort.'

There was a long silence. He sighed loudly.

'You're right, as always. Just don't call me 'Professor' once we're gone.' He said sharply, before turning and stalking off down the corridor.

I followed a few seconds later, back to Gryffindor tower to prepare for graduation.

Once in my room, I finished packing everything into my trunk, charmed it to be feather-light and dressed in my new graduation robes of a knee length scarlet dress trimmed with gold and long scarlet cloak with gold trim again and a Gryffindor lion on the back. Once fully ready I went out to wait in the Gryffindor common room.

'Hermione! Where have you been all morning?' Ron said as he jumped down the stairs, two at a time. Harry followed soon after him. Both were dressed in black trouser, white shirts and red ties, with the same scarlet and gold cloak as me.

'I slept in. What've you two been up to?'

'We went to say goodbye to Hagrid. We knocked at your door but you didn't answer.' Harry said, grinning.

'I was probably in the shower. I'll just have to say goodbye at the ceremony. Are you all ready to go down?'

'Yeah. I'm really gonna miss this place.' Ron said, looking around the common room. 'Well I suppose we should get going. I'm starving!'

'You always are, Ron! What will you do when you have to get your own meals?' I joked as the three of us tumbled out of the common room.

'He'll probably discover McDonalds!!' Harry replied, laughing.

'What's that?' Ron asked, looking confused.

Harry and I both looked at each other and rolled our eyes, and we made our way down to the Great Hall for the last time as Hogwarts students.

A/N

Please review, I will be extremely grateful for any constructive criticism.

I couldn't decide whether to write this in first or third person, then in past or present tense, so if it crosses over anywhere then please tell me.

Thank you for reading!!!!