Lend me your love tonight

by Katta (KET on ff.net)

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters. They all belong to J.K. Rowling, of course, of course. I'm sorry if I've borrowed them for a bit, but I am making no money from it.

This is an HG/SS fic – like all my fics. It is loosely in response to the 'A simple game of chess' challenge on WIKTT, although I had started writing it before I noticed the challenge and you'll have to wait until Chapter 5 for the chess game.

Rated R for adult themes including sex and suicide.

Obviously the basic premise of this story (Hermione returns to Hogwarts to teach after an unhappy romance) has been done lots of times already, but I hope you'll find it original enough not to accuse me of plagiarism. This is my take on the idea, anyway.

I don't usually start posting until I've finished a story. I have almost finished, but I'll start posting now to get in before the challenge deadline. It will be quite short – about eight chapters, I think. I am actually working on a longer story for the first time, but it is just refusing to do what I want it to, and I had the idea for this shorter one, so I thought I would write it while it was in my head.

Chapter 1 : The job advert

She slammed the door behind her as she entered her flat. The old ginger cat looked up briefly and then went back to sleep. Seeing Crookshanks made her calm down. She sat down on the sofa and stroked him.

'How are you, old boy?' she whispered. She'd had him fifteen years and he hadn't been young when she got him. He had to be an old cat now. Perhaps magical cats lived longer than normal cats? She wasn't so sure. He seemed to be getting ready to fall into a final snooze.

Sighing she got up. Would nothing go right for her at the moment? If her cat died on her, that would be the final straw. Today's disciplinary meeting at the ministry had been so bloody infuriating. So unfair. She wasn't self-willed and insubordinate! All she wanted to do was get on with her job. But there was such an infuriating amount of red tape. Sometimes she cut corners – everyone did. You couldn't function otherwise!

Why, oh why, oh why had this disciplinary charged been dragged up now? When she was at a low ebb and least able to defend herself. She felt like banging her head against the wall. Instead she poured herself a neat whisky. Oblivion of a sort.

But oblivion failed to come. The more she thought about it, the angrier she got. She hadn't done anything that other ministry employees didn't do every day. And anyway, how had her bosses known that she had used a flying carpet to move the documents to the storage depot in Titchfield? It would have taken forever to move them by broomstick and she had been so careful not to be seen. The officials hadn't cited any witnesses, muggle or magical.

Hermione was intrigued now – how had they known? She ran over the hearing in detail. The charge had been given. She had not tried to deny it, since it was true. Perhaps they would have called witnesses if she had. Nevertheless – they were so thorough in everything, she couldn't imagine them changing their line of attack on the spur of the moment. If they had had witnesses, they would have called them all the same.

Suddenly it occurred to her that they must have had inside information from someone who knew. Someone had snitched on her. Impossible! No, wait. What was it Sherlock Holmes used to say about eliminating the impossible and improbably that was left must be true? Someone snitching on her wasn't impossible, just improbable. And then when she thought about it a name popped into her head and it didn't even seem improbable. Mike. Mike had known that she was going to move the documents.

Hermione sighed. Was it possible that Mike could have snitched on her? They talk about a woman spurned, but what about a man spurned? Or, in this case, a man who couldn't keep his dick in his trousers. Hermione's husband of three year's standing – soon to be her ex-husband. (Not soon enough, she mused). Why on earth was he waging this petty campaign against her? It was his own bloody fault that she had thrown him out. Now if she had been getting her revenge on him, that would have made some sense. But this?

Absently Hermione stroked Crookshanks' head, thinking 'Good old Crookshanks! We've seen some ups and downs, haven't we. OWLs and NEWTs. Voldemort. Marriage and divorce.'

Once more she rolled the word divorce around her head. She had never imagined that she would end up divorced, but then she had never imagined that Michael Corner, who had been so extravagantly in love with her, would end up cheating on her. And although the bitterness of that betrayal still lingered, she felt good. Free. Revived. Perhaps all this bother with the ministry was a wake up call. She wasn't indentured to the ministry. She could up and leave whenever she wanted. On a whim, she reached over for the Daily Prophet and started flicking through the situations vacant pages.

As is so often the case, the brain hones in and notices things that fit with what we have been thinking about. If someone you know is diagnosed as having a rare disease, you suddenly seem to be reading about that very disease everywhere. A film star has it. A politician announces more screening. A local paper runs a fund raising campaign for a child who needs to go abroad for treatment. In fact, there are no more articles about it than there were last week, or the week before, but your brain notices them.

And so it was with Hermione. It seemed like fate that that particular position should be advertised on that particular day – and it leapt out at her from the page: 'On the retirement of the previous incumbent, Hogwarts wish to appoint a new arithmancy teacher from September …'

So, Professor Vector was finally retiring. Well, there had been a lot of changes at Hogwarts recently and people do grow old, even wizards and witches.

Hermione stared and stared at the page. She reread it carefully. Oh Merlin, the application had to be in by tomorrow. The ad must have been running for weeks, but normally she would never give the situations vacant pages a second glance. No time to think, if she wanted to apply. Write a CV now, tonight and mail it to … Headmaster Snape. Hermione was forcibly reminded of yet another recent change at Hogwarts.