My first HG/SS piece so be nice. LOL I have also taken certain 'literary liberties' where necessary. It's not meant to be EXACTLY like the book but close enough to suit how I wanted this story to go. Hope you like...I am working on subsequent chapters so check back! (If anyone knows all the professors' first names, please let me know!)

Also I must thank Moonlit Bliss for a correction on my use of "the second" instead of "junior". I thought they were interchangeable but they are not. I looked it up online and says this, "strictly speaking, 'II', pronounced the second, refers to a boy who is named after his grandfather, uncle, or cousin. We learn something new every day!

As Hermione packed the last of the things she would need, she fought the nervousness of what lay ahead. Not that she should be nervous in the slightest as it was the most natural course for her to take at this point in her twenty-five year life.

Yet she was still nervous and couldn't shake it.

Stop being a such a worry wart and get a hold of yourself, she chastised in her mind. You're going back to your true home and family. What do you have to be nervous about?

But deep inside the dark depths of a truth she wasn't ready to admit or face yet lie the unadulterated cause of her nervousness and hesitancy.

Hermione was going back to Hogwarts.

Not as a student as she had graduated near seven years ago but as a teacher.

In fact, she was Hogwart's new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and because of her predecessors' fates, was terrified, although Albus, as she was now encouraged to call him, had assured her she would be fine and the best suited to teach because of what she'd experienced while a student herself.

But even that wasn't the true source of her rapidly beating heart.

Slamming the last trunk shut with a wave of her hand, she blew the breath she'd seemed to be holding in out of her mouth and then said, "Well here goes nothing."

As she watched the students scurrying about the train, trying to find seats, Hermione wondered if she and her friends had been that small. The train itself looked smaller and she found it odd. Had it really been almost seven years? This train trip had been one of her most favorite times as it signified another year at her Hogwarts home and time together with her friends.

Having chosen a car and settling herself by the window, she leaned her head against the glass and stared out over the lush green countryside. Hogwarts. That place held some of the happiest times of her life along with some of the scariest times. She smiled with her thoughts, knowing she'd do it all over again if given the choice. She wondered who remained now, if many of her teachers were still there or if there was a whole new batch.

Hermione hoped they'd remained.

"Miss Granger," Albus Dumbledore greeted warmly, pulling the young woman into a close hug. "It's so good to see you again. No trouble on the train I presume?"

"None at all," Hermione answered, as they began walking down the stone hallway. "It's good to see you. I've missed Hogwarts."

"Hogwarts has missed you as well," Albus told her. "I must say you have grown into a beautiful young woman. Thank you for agreeing to teach this year." The once small, thin, cocky yet brilliant schoolgirl had been replaced by a taller, shapelier confident and pleasant woman.

Hermione felt her cheeks grow warm. "You still don't look a day over a hundred and twenty to me," she told him, squeezing his hand in affection as they continued walking, watching as students hurried about.

Albus chucked. "Silly girl," he said. "I just celebrated my one hundred and sixty fourth birthday."

Hermione didn't have time to comment as they reached a door. "I thought it proper to introduce you to the staff before the banquet," Albus told her. "I think you'll remember most everyone."

Oh boy, she thought. Okay. Now just relax. As Albus pushed the door open, she met about ten pairs of eyes. Smile, she reminded herself.

Everyone lined up as Albus made introductions, or re-introductions as the case may be, and walked with Hermione as she hugged and shook hands.

"You certainly remember Minerva McGonagall," he began. "And Professor Flitwick…Professor Sprout…Sybil Trelawney…Professor Sinistra…Professor Vector." He paused and then said as they continued. "These last three have been with us the past four years or so…Milinda Myer…Gaston Oglestein…and Primrose Wicklebunn."

Hermione had said her hellos and was relieved to see familiar faces. Turning towards Albus as the others gathered their belongings to head to the banquet, she asked curiously, "Is this the entire teaching staff?"

"No it is not," he answered. "Hagrid is busy bringing in the first year's, as you recall, and Severus is…well…Severus has not changed much since you left." His smile apologized for the teacher's absence.

"It's all right," Hermione said with a wave of her hand. "I was just wondering. Time for the banquet?"

"You are right, my dear," Albus said. "Let us go."

Hermione's heart pounded with anticipation as the group of faculty entered the Great Hall. To think, it had been fourteen years since she walked into this hall as a small first year and now she was part of the staff. She noted as she sat at the head tables that everything looked the same; the long rows of tables, the candles that hung in mid air, the tapestries displaying the Slytherin house. I wonder how long they've held the house cup, she thought as she caught the swish of a dark cloak from the corner of her eye, forcing herself to ignore it.

She watched with great affection as the students filled the room and the tables, the dull roar growing louder and louder until Albus clapped his hands, commanding attention, silence immediately cascading throughout.

"Welcome to Hogwarts," Albus said slowly and clearly. "I am happy to announce that we should have a fun and safe year although students are still forbidden to enter both the Dark Forest and the corridor on the right side of the third floor as they could suffer a very unpleasant fate. We also have a new teacher with us this year although she is not new to Hogwarts at all." He paused, looking over to Hermione then back out at the sea of young faces. "Professor Granger is our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and a previous graduate from Gryffindor house," he announced. "Please welcome her back."

Hermione nervously stood up while the room applauded, quickly sitting back down with a small smile.

"And now," Albus continued, waving his hands out before him. "We will sort the first years and then feast."

Hermione was seated between Sybil and Primrose, chatting with them briefly as they ate from the huge spread of platters before them. Sybil, of course, was instantly trying to warn her of vibrations she was feeling but Hermione knew she was harmless, only slightly playing along with her. Primrose, the Muggle Studies teacher, and she found they had quite a lot in common as she was born to muggle parents same as Hermione. She definitely looked forward to talking with her more.

When most of the students had left the hall on their way to the dorms, only the faculty was left, talking in groups of two or three. Hermione gave Hagrid the biggest hug of all, well, as best she could.

"I've missed you so much!" she told him, feeling more like herself. "You must fill me in on everything I've missed the past few years!"

"It's so good ta see ya, Hermione," Hagrid greeted. "I thought about ya quite often, wonderin' how ya were. Now yer all growed up. Quite beautiful I might add." He winked and laughed when she blushed.

Hermione felt a presence approach behind her, an energy that was unmistakable.

"Well, well," the deep voice said. "If it isn't Miss Granger, the Gryffindor know-it-all, returned to grace Hogwarts with her presence."

Hermione turned around and faced Severus Snape. "That's Professor Granger," she corrected with a smirk, loving the fact she could now correct him on what he had corrected her on a number of times. "Aren't you going to congratulate me?" She noticed the same expression on his face and the same black eyes; seven years hadn't aged him a bit. There was one difference though. Milinda Myer was by his side, her expressions and clothing very much like Severus'. Are they…Stop it Hermione, she scolded. It doesn't matter anyway.

"Defense Against the Dark Arts was it?" he scowled, eyes piercing through her as they always had. "Let's see how your first term goes before any…congratulating is done."

With a swish of two black capes, Severus and Milinda were gone. Now why doesn't he seem any smaller, she thought with mild amusement. She had noticed the look on Milinda's face as he'd spoken to Hermione. It was as if she was…jealous? No…it was more…possessiveness. Yes! And she'd remembered Milinda's arm draped around his as if…well…as if staking her territory.

Her territory?

"Don't pay no attention," Hagrid said, interrupting her thoughts as she turned back around. "Some thins' just don't never change."

With a sigh, Hermione agreed. Some things never did change. Even after seven years.

The first week was always the most hectic and most chaotic. First years were often getting lost, forgetting where their classrooms were and having problems reaching their dormitories with the moving staircases. Head boys and girls had to stay on their toes as they were in charge of their students and the wandering first years usually gave them much grief until they learned the layout of Hogwarts. Teachers were busy with last minute preparations and syllabi changes.

Or at least Hermione was.

At she sat at the desk in front of her classroom, Hermione thought back to Professor Lupin, undoubtedly the best Dark Arts teacher she'd had. He was the only one to address anything of a 'dark' nature and had done it quite well, both in the classroom and on the side with a certain young wizard.

She shook her head with a smile as she went back to her syllabus. No, teaching Dark Arts was definitely not where she thought she'd be but when Albus contacted her about the position and gave her his reasoning for asking her to teach it, Hermione couldn't argue. Even though the worst threat of all had been vanquished, the students still needed to learn there were dark wizards and how to properly handle those type situations. In fact, she'd spent the summer with her nose in hundreds of books, making lesson outlines that she was sure would be the most informative Dark Arts class ever.

Dark Arts. With the words, her mind automatically pictured Severus, standing in his potions classroom, towering over the students, rudely pointing out why their cauldron is hissing instead boiling, sending half the class to detention by the halfway mark in the year and always taking points away from any house except his own.

That was the side the students saw. There had been brief moments when 'student' Hermione caught glimpses of a man with a troubled past, doomed for the rest of his life to make up for the wrongs he'd done, standing by Albus regardless of what happened and at times, albeit extremely rare times, offering words that would have been considered almost…pleasant.

Then there was the other side of Severus that most would say was a farce, but Hermione knew to be true. There was a gentler, more compassionate side that no one was ever allowed to see. He could smile and laugh as anyone, maybe even more heartily since he never faked enjoyment like others around him, and thoroughly enjoyed conversations of an intellectual kind, conversations that lasted for hours, whether on the walk from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade, in his classroom or by his fireplace late at night.

Hermione had learned the dark truths of his past, certain only four other people knew, and understood his constant anger and scorn when outside of his chamber. She'd thought it ironic how similar Severus' childhood was to Harry's and wished that they'd been able to discuss it. She remembered that particular conversation from years before and allowed it to play in her head once more.

They'd been sitting in the potions classroom one evening, working on a complicated mixture that she'd been trying to learn for the NEWTS and that he'd been trying to help her with the last few nights, steadily working as ingredients were extremely dangerous and could only be added in a certain order at a specified time. It was their third try.

Harry had been the topic of conversation as it was fifth year and his anger was causing great concern as was the impending war and the Order's infiltration of Hogwarts. Everyone was on edge from Albus all the way down to the first years.

"That boy needs to calm himself before he gets us all killed," Severus warned, adding two unicorn hairs to the bubbling mixture before them. "His anger is destructive and we have enough destruction to last us a long while."

Hermione watched as he stirred the mixture. "But Professor Snape," she said. "You're angry all the time. And you're not destructive."

Whipping his head to face her, ready to bark out some snide comment, Severus found he had nothing to say as big brown eyes looked up at him with…was it concern? He looked back to the contents of the cauldron, reaching for the next ingredient. "No my anger is not destructive but his will be," he finally stated.

"What are you trying to hide from?" she asked.

"Miss Granger, are we here to work on the potions part of your NEWTS or are we here to discuss my personal life?" Severus snapped.

"Discussing your personal life at the moment," she answered quickly. "Professor Snape, you are a brilliant teacher, but this façade of contempt you put on every morning is simply your attempt to hide or to shield yourself from something. So bark and growl at me all you want to but I'm not buying it."

Severus sighed at the truth she spoke. "Why should I tell a Gryffindor know-it-all about a past that even I don't want to remember?" he inquired turning on the stool to face her.

Hermione wasn't letting his cool stare unnerve her, not anymore. "Because I'm the first one beside Dumbledore to care enough to ask," she answered.

Again, he couldn't argue her truth and again he sighed. Why was he even entertaining the notion of telling her of his childhood? Why wasn't he simply telling her it was none of her business and sending her back to her dormitory? Her answer was his own. Because she was the first since Dumbledore to care enough to ask and to ask sincerely. He'd tried to scare her like everyone else but had lost his touch the past few months with the time they'd spent together helping her prepare for NEWTS. The same concern he'd seen in her eyes for Potter and Weasley was now directed at him and, while he didn't want to admit it, deep inside he knew it to be genuine. A part of him liked it.

He leaned slightly closer to her. "If I share this with you," he began quietly. "You must never, ever tell another soul or I will personally put a crucio curse on you. Do we have an understanding?"

"Professor, I don't kiss and tell," Hermione stated before she realized how her words sounded. Blushing instantly, she quickly corrected herself. "I'm sorry…it's just an expression…I meant…"

Somewhat amused by the colloquialism she chose but hiding his ever-allusive smile, Severus said, "I know what you meant, Miss Granger."

He spent the next hour telling her the brief outline of what was his childhood. Although his parents had been powerful wizards, Severus was adopted at age five where he was given a new name and raised by muggles. His parents had not planned for him and didn't intend to raise him, making feeble attempts until they finally gave him to an orphanage, more concerned with their greediness for power than concern for their child. Severus learned over the years that their hunger for power turned them against each other, his mother eventually losing her life at his father's hands.

The muggles who raised him did what they could with a young boy and his extreme emotional issues. He never wanted to play with any of the other kids, always hiding within the pages of a book, reading about magick whenever he could get his hands on something. He quickly became fascinated with mixing different substances to see what effect it would have.

As he grew, he only distanced himself more. Severus was a grade ahead of everyone intellectually and had no problem proving it when anyone questioned him. He didn't belong where he was and knew it. The day of his eleventh birthday, his entire life changed with one small envelope, not brought by post, but by a large beautiful white owl.

He explained to Hermione how his entire life had been filled with contempt and ridicule and people treating him as an outcast. He explained how his parents hadn't wanted him and his adoptive parents didn't know how to handle him. He explained how no matter where he went or what he was doing, he didn't fit in and suffered because of it. Once he began to display his anger outwardly, people left him alone because they were scared of him. The fence of anger he kept up around him had finally given him the peace and solitude he'd never found elsewhere.

Hermione felt bad as she listened to his brief explanations, completely understanding now why he acted as he did. "What happened to your father?" she asked curiously.

It was the one question he'd hoped she wouldn't ask but knew it was the one question that needed answering. With a sarcastic smirk, Severus said, "My birth name was Tom Marvolo Riddle Junior and has been wiped off any document it was ever on as if I never existed. Only Severus Snape, my muggle name, remains."

Hermione's hand flew to her mouth in astonishment, eyes wide in surprise. Never had she expected Voldemort to be his father. She stared at Severus for a moment, not really knowing what to say.

"Aren't you glad you asked?" he quipped.

"Professor Snape…I…I'm so sorry…I didn't know," she stammered. "Does Professor Dumbledore…"

"Yes Miss Granger," he quickly answered with a sigh. "He knows as does Professor McGonagall. Aside from the four of us, only one other knows."

"Voldemort," she said quietly.

"You are correct," he said. "And you must take that knowledge to your grave or you may find it sooner rather than later and not by my hands."

Swallowing the lump in her throat, Hermione answered, "I will not tell a soul. I promise you."

Hermione's thoughts were interrupted by a skirmish in the hall outside her classroom, quickly getting up and rushing out to see what was happening.

When she opened the door, she found a group of students in a circle, and pushed through to see what they were looking at.

"I'm sorry!" the girl was exclaiming. "I'm so sorry! I was only trying to help! I thought I knew the spell!"

"What's going on?" Hermione asked, seeing schoolbooks laying atop a young boy on the floor that were three times their normal size.

"Ask the twit!" the boy exclaimed, trying to get up from the weight of the books.

"Professor Granger," the girl cried. "He had so many books to carry I thought I could help him. I'd been reading and thought I could do the spell to lighten the books. Instead I tripled the size and knocked him down."

Taking out her wand, she pointed at the books and said, "Shrinktar novellus."

The small group watched as the books returned to their normal size, Hermione quickly helping the boy back up to a standing position.

"Thanks," he mumbled, hurrying off towards his class.

"I'm so sorry!" the girl continued to wail.

Again, Hermione felt a presence approach behind her. "What is the problem here, Professor Granger?" the voice asked, contempt obvious at her new title.

Facing him with a smile, Hermione answered, "Everything here is under control, Professor Snape. Just an eager student jumping a bit ahead of herself. You know how they can be."

He sneered at her comment. "Yes I certainly do," he answered. "Lucky you found them first or I would have given them both detention."

"Then it is quite lucky I found them first," Hermione told him and then turned her back, hearing him swish away. "What's your name?" she asked the girl.

"Chloe Clothwick," she answered timidly.

"Well Miss Clothwick," Hermione said with a warm smile, seeing much of herself from nearly fifteen years ago in this girl. "How about at the end of your classes today you come back by my office here and we'll have a little chat? I'll explain why your spell didn't work."

Big brown eyes stared at her. "I'm not in trouble?" she asked, assuming she would have been expelled on the spot.

"Not today," Hermione answered, quoting one of her favorite teachers. "Now get going to class before you're late. And don't perform any more spells!"

"Yes Professor Granger," she said, relieved she wasn't in trouble. "Thank you!"

Classes went rather well the first couple weeks. It took Hermione just a few days to allow herself to be comfortable, realizing she taught naturally. She enjoyed instructing the students, explaining all the nuances of her subjects, seeing in their faces when they understood.

She was caught off guard one day when a hand raised in question.

"Yes Mr. Wheelen?" she asked.

"Professor I know this is a bit off topic," Wil began sheepishly. "But some of the other students and I…well…we were wondering if you were the same Hermione Granger that was friends with Harry Potter back when…you know…everything happened."

Hermione immediately smiled at the remembrance of her dear friend. "Yes Mr. Wheelen," she answered. "That was me. But how do you know about that?"

Wil smiled, glad she wasn't telling him to stay on the subject at hand. "There are rumors that float about, Professor," he answered. "And there's a book being passed around that explains everything that happened and what you did."

"Really?" she asked, somewhat surprised. "Any way you can get your hands on this book so I can take a peek?"

"Yes Professor Granger," he answered. "I can."

The classroom door opened as Severus stuck his head in. "A moment Professor Granger?" he requested.

This had better be important to disrupt my class, she thought, quickly joining him outside in the hall. Immediately she saw why he had called her out.

"Miss Clothwick, what happened?" she asked, seeing that the girl had managed to make herself half invisible, only her top half showing. She glanced at Severus who was hiding a smirk. "I thought I sent you to the library to get a book for our class."

"You did," she said timidly. "But I thought I could do a spell that would make me disappear here and reappear thereto save time."

"I found her in the hall like this," Severus added. "And immediately brought her to you."

Hermione sighed. She would have to have a serious talk with this student or she'd kill herself before the first final. "Remember when you stopped by my office after your classes had finished a few days ago?" she asked.


"It will happen again later today and we will now be calling it detention," she said sternly although still trying to be pleasant.

"Professor Granger, I do believe points should also be taken away," Severus added, raising one eyebrow.

She looked at him and bit her lip, knowing he was right but hating to do it to the over-eager student, reminding her so much of herself at that age. But Chloe was a little more out of hand than she ever was, she willingly admitted.

"Yes I suppose so," Hermione reluctantly agreed. "I did tell you not to perform any more spells and you did. Ten points from Gryffindor."

"Sorry Professor Granger," Chloe said quietly.

Taking her wand out again and pointing to the invisible bottom half, Hermione said, "Reverto invisibilus."

Chloe looked down, grateful to be able to see her body again. "Thank you," she mumbled and quickly went back inside the classroom.

Hermione looked at Severus and waited for a reaction.

"I thank you for not questioning me in front of the student," he said with little emotion. "I have a difficult enough time as it is, if you'll remember."

Hermione watched him walk away, black cloak flowing behind him. What had he meant by that? She'd known of his ability to read minds when he chose; had he known she had relived that particular scene from years ago just days previous? Stop overreacting, she told herself. He meant because of the obvious reasons and not the secret ones you learned of. Just get back in class.

Albus held faculty meetings once a month and Hermione did not look forward to them. They were helpful and informative, for the most part, however it was Severus and Milinda that she did not want to see. She hadn't talked to her since the day of Hermione's arrival but it was as if Milinda had already made up her mind she didn't like her. Hermione was uncomfortable with the glances and looks she received from the end of the large table.

"And Professor Granger," Albus was saying. "This brings me back to a side project I have for you."

"Yes, Headmaster?" she said, happily looking at Albus.

"We are thinking of revising the NEWTS and would appreciate your expertise and input," he began. "Take out some things you think unnecessary and replace them with some that you think are more relevant."

"Certainly," she said. "I can start on this right away. There are quite a few items that I think should be included that currently are not." She smiled. This was an easy project. An enjoyable one even.

Albus' next statement changed all that.

"And since Dark Arts and Potions go hand in hand," he said, looking down the table with a slight smile. "Severus, I ask you to do the same and will request that you work with Professor Granger so that the necessary requirements are fulfilled."

Severus didn't even bat an eye. "Understood, Headmaster," he said simply.

Milinda glanced at Hermione, then at Severus and then down the table to Albus. "Might I suggest my input as well in these two areas?" she offered with a small smile.

Albus raised both eyebrows as if surprised by her question. "No, Professor Myer," he answered. "Ancient Runes will not become part of Dark Arts and Potions in the NEWTS but thank you for your kind offer."

Hermione could feel her glare burning the back of her head. What was the deal with this woman? She knew where to go to find out though.

"Come in, come in," Hagrid told her happily as Hermione followed him into his small hut. "Want some tea?"

Glancing at the steam rising from the kettle, she shook her head. "No thank you, Hagrid," she said. "But please, tell me what's been happening around here."

He settled himself in his chair and sipped his tea. "Well ever since…you know who... was killed," he began. "It's been rather uneventful 'round here. Been rather odd actually."

They laughed, remembering that the seven years Hermione was a student, each year had been more eventful than the next.

"Dumbledore gained complete control back from the Order," Hagrid continued. "That was a happy day I'll tell ya. And…let's see….Quidditch hasn't been the same since Harry left. Each house has a won a cup a couple times now. Umm…oh…Ravenclaw won the house cup for a couple years, then Hufflepuff and Slytherin has had the past three years."

"Gryffindor hasn't won it since we graduated?" Hermione asked surprised.

"No," Hagrid said, shaking his head and sipping more tea. "It hasn't been the same either."

"Do you know anything of a book?" Hermione asked, remembering what Mr. Wheelen had told her earlier. "A book that has information about me in it?"

Hagrid smiled. "Was wonderin' if you'd find out 'bout that," he said. "Yes there is a book and it's quite popular but yet hidden."

"Who wrote it?"

"You must never tell anyone," he began. "But Dumbledore wrote it under a pen name. He wanted future students ta know of the three of you."

Hermione's mouth dropped. "He wrote it?" she asked. "Wow!"

"I haven't seen it meself," he said. "But I hope to."

"I have a student that asked me about it," she told him. "And I asked if he could get it for me. I'll bring it to you if he does." She paused, hesitating before asking her next question. "What's with Professor Myer?"

"What do ya mean?"

Hermione shrugged, remember the looks she'd received. "Well…she seems very…almost…possessive of…Snape," she said. "And she's been giving me looks that, if were spells, would have already killed me."

Hagrid half laughed. "She's been here three years teaching Ancient Runes," he explained. "She immediately latched on to ol' Snape. She acts as if he's the headmaster and the one callin' all the shots. Last year they were seen together pretty often." He looked at Hermione slightly confused. "I don't know why she be lookin' at you like that though. Don' make much sense, now does it?"

So they were an item then? Hermione couldn't imagine anyone an item with Severus. "No, it doesn't," she said quietly.