DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A Mudblood on the Staff
Just what we need, a Mudblood on the staff. As if it weren't bad enough that the old bag had hauled the wolf back up here. No, she had to hire a bloody Muggleborn to boot. And to cap it all, not any old Mudblood, but that insufferable "petite amie de Potter".
Severus Snape knocked back his coffee and threw the cup into the sink with such force that it shattered. He barely noticed. The house-elves would clean up the mess. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. Calm. Control. Focus. Anger was fine, anger was appropriate, but there was no need to enter the staff meeting gunning for a fight. Not that he'd be shy about letting everyone know how he felt about the Headmistress's latest appointment. But it should be done from a position of cool superiority.
Suddenly snapping his eyes open, as if returning from a trance, Snape turned on the heel of his black leather boots and strode out of his dungeon chamber, black robes billowing in his wake.
"Miss Granger-- I mean, Professor Granger," little Professor Flitwick squeaked, "how very, very pleased I am to welcome you to the staff of Hogwarts. To welcome you back, I mean! Very pleased indeed!" The Charms teacher pumped Hermione's hand enthusiastically, his face practically obscured by his smile. "I always knew you had it in you, always knew it!"
"Thank you, Professor Flitwick," Hermione grinned down at him. It felt good to be welcomed so warmly, to be immediately accepted as an equal, especially by a wizard she respected as much as Flitwick.
"Filius, my dear, call me Filius!" he bubbled.
"Hermione!" A softer, slightly hoarse voice called her attention to a lean man in a baggy suit standing near the window of the staff room.
"Professor Lupin!" Hermione breathed, her heart leaping. Remus Lupin had been one of her favorite teachers when she had been a student, not to mention a great friend to her, Ron, and especially Harry.
Remus quickly closed the distance between them and embraced his former pupil. Hermione could feel how thin he was through the layers of worn material, how wasted he had become. His illness took more of a toll every year, yet his eyes were still kind, still vivid.
"It's Remus now," he corrected her, "seeing as we're colleagues. Let me have a look at you." He held Hermione at arm's length, his eyes twinkling. He took in the heart-shaped face, the softly round figure beneath the dark blue robes, the long braid of kinky light brown hair hanging over her right shoulder. "Do you know, I don't think you've aged one bit!" he concluded.
Hermione laughed. "It's only been five years!"
"Has it been that long?" Remus asked, scratching his own thinning brown hair in mock confusion. "Seems like only yesterday that you, Ron and Harry were cleaning my blackboards during detention!"
"You never give detentions! You're too much of a softie!" Hermione shot back, her throat momentarily tightening at the mention of Harry, but she had no time for reflection just then, as a dark voice growled behind them, "Yes, Remus does have rather a soft spot for misfits."
Remus and Hermione turned toward the door, where Snape had appeared, his lip curled in an expression of disgust.
How touching. The mongrel and the Mudblood, pawing each other already.
"Good morning, Severus," Remus replied cordially.
Hermione didn't say anything, just stared at the unpleasant-looking figure in the doorway: Her least favorite teacher, the Potions Master Severus Snape. Well, she was beyond his reach now, she thought with relief and defiance. No more docking her House points for having the right answer, no more intimidating her friends into failure, no more pointless detentions. She might have to work at the same institution as he, but she definitely did not have to have anything whatsoever to do with the man.
Snape didn't respond to Remus, preferring rather to step to the far side of the long table which stood in the middle of the room, and at which Professors Sprout and Sinistra were already seated. He pulled out the chair next to Sinistra and placed it a good ways back from the table before sitting down in it, stonily glaring straight ahead at nothing at all.
Remus looked at Hermione, slightly apologetic, as he pulled out a chair for her. She took it and continued to receive welcomes from the rest of the staff as they filed into the room. The first staff meeting of the new school year had been scheduled for 10 am, but it appeared that even this was a stretch for some; Professor Vector scurried in, hat askew, a large flask of coffee in one hand and parchments flying out of the bundle she carried in the other, just seconds before Professor McGonagall entered and surveyed the assembled teachers with an appraising eye over her granny glasses.
The years were catching up with her as well, as Hermione had already noted during her hiring interview. McGonagall's hair was well-hidden beneath the pointed hat perched neatly on her head, but what was visible at her temples was grey and thin. The lines on her face were more deeply etched, her skin more translucent. Yet she, too, still walked with a spry step and took in everything with bright, vigilant eyes.
"Good morning," she said, gracing them all with a smile and closing the door behind her. "I see we are nearly all here. Very good." She stood at the head of the table and dropped a pile of parchments onto it. "I think we should start right away, I'm not sure whether--"
At that moment, the door opened and Angelina Johnson slipped in, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Drops of water clung to the ends of her short, black hair and she looked pale, as though she had just woken up.
"Professor Johnson, how good of you to join us," McGonagall simpered.
"Sorry," Angelina whispered, grimacing, and slipped into the seat beside Hermione.
Hermione smiled warmly at Angelina. Angelina had been at Hogwarts for a year already, as flying instructor and Quidditch coach, after a successful, albeit brief, semi-professional career with the Birmingham Bruisers. Hermione hadn't known Angelina too well during her time at school, as the Gryffindor Chaser had been two years ahead of her, but she was especially glad that there was another teacher here from her generation. She wouldn't necessarily have liked being the only kid on the block. And maybe she and Angelina would become friends. That would be nice.
"Well, that should be all of us; I don't expect that Sibyll has foreseen the need to attend this meeting," McGonagall ascertained and began distributing scrolls of parchment to everyone.
There was much rustling and murmuring as the parchments made their way around the table.
"First off, I would like to welcome you all back for another year. I say welcome back, including to you, Hermione." She nodded and smiled kindly at her before continuing to address the rest of the teachers. "Although this is her first year as an instructor, I'm sure we all remember Miss Granger as one of the most outstanding students of recent memory--"
"--and I am exceedingly pleased that she has agreed to take over the History of Magic classes from Professor Binns."
Hermione had to smile at that. Professor McGonagall had told her the story of how Professor Binns had suddenly realized, in the middle of a lecture on the Druidic Interlude of 650-678, that he was, in fact, dead. He had drifted directly up to the Headmistress's office (the students didn't notice that he had left until the end-of-period bell rang) and demanded, incensed, to be released from teaching duties at once. An hour later, he had been on his way to Provence, and hadn't been heard from since, although Sir Nicholas had mentioned a couple of months later that he had recently been informed of an elderly ghost haunting the beach cabanas in Nice. "Nothing but a juvenile peeping Tom, if you ask me," he had huffed.
Professor McGonagall had been forced to take over his classes for the remainder of the school year, in addition to her duties as Headmistress and Professor for Transfiguration, which had put her in a state of near-collapse. She had therefore been overjoyed to receive Hermione's application for the position. Professor McGonagall had confided in Hermione that hers was, in point of fact, the only application which she had received, but she had every confidence that Hermione would do a splendid job, and she would have chosen her even if there had been a hundred other applicants.
"Now, you will find here the calendar for the school year," Professor McGonagall was saying, "including the dates of the four Hogsmeade weekends, which I will need three volunteers each to supervise: One Head of House and two additional teachers."
"Do you want to take the first one with me?" Angelina whispered to Hermione. "I'd like to get it out of the way before the Quidditch season really gets going."
"Sure," Hermione shrugged, happy for the suggestion. It looked like Angelina was also trying to make friends.
At exactly the same moment that Angelina said, "Hermione and I will take the first week-end," Snape sighed in a put-upon way, "Very well, put me down for the first one, then I can have the blasted thing behind me."
Snape glared at Angelina. "I said I will take the first week-end."
Snotty little Gryffindors. Barely out of school and already thinking they're on a par with their superiors.
"Fine," Minerva said, making a quick note. "That's Severus, Angelina, and Hermione for October. Who will take December?" She looked around expectantly.
Snape sat up straighter and frowned. "Minerva, you can't expect me to supervise along with those two...Gryffindors." The moniker sounded like a swear word in his mouth.
Minerva gave Snape a cold look. "Staff members are not assigned duties according to their previous House affiliation, Severus, as you well know. We generally leave behind such petty divisions in the adult world. However, as a Head of House, I require you to be in charge of one weekend per year. Professors Johnson and Granger will assist you. December?" She looked around again, the subject apparently closed for her.
"I'll do it, Minerva," Remus volunteered.
"Will that fit into your...schedule?" McGonagall asked in what was apparently supposed to be a tactful manner, referring to Lupin's recurrent bouts of indisposal due to his lycanthropy.
"Yes, I'll be fine," Remus assured her with a tired sigh.
"You can put me down, too," said Professor Grubbly-Plank.
While McGonagall continued to fill in the schedule, Hermione stole a look at Snape. He had pulled his chair even further back from the table and was now slouched back with his arms crossed over his chest, his head bowed so that his long black hair fell over his face. She could swear that she could hear him grinding his teeth. She exchanged a raised-eyebrow look and a shrug with Angelina.
Bloody old hag. She's just like Albus...without the charisma. Thinks she can manipulate me, serving me her leftover kindness and expecting lapdog behaviour in return. Salazar would spit on me if he saw what has become of me. I spit on myself.