Do you really want to read another boring disclaimer? Okay! Everything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling. Clumsy expressions belong to me, because I am German.

Thanks to my two betas: Droxy and Samantha-Kathy. Confusing as it is sometimes, there are advantages. If there are mistakes, I can blame them, and as an author I get the praise. Nah, I'm mean. Okay, let's get realistic. My English lacks finesse, and I take the blame, because I refused to accept expressions and changes which would not have been my style. But a great thank you nevertheless for your great work. hugs, kisses

Chapter 1

Hermione entered her office.My office! Normally I would have been glad, no, happy, to have my own office. Normally I would have been happy to teach Potions. Normally… But nothing was normal now.

After Albus Dumbledore's death, hell had broken loose. Anxious parents had hurried to remove their children from Hogwarts, claiming that it was not safe, and had sent their children to Beauxbatons instead. The Ministry had announced they would close the school. Only after Minerva McGonagall's intervention, they had revoked their decision, and the majority of the students had returned. Of course all the Death Eaters' children had failed to appear, though Hermione had no doubt they would come out of their holes after the dust had settled. The Potions master had resigned, she called it running away, not that anybody would have expected anything else. Professor Slughorn did not want to put his precious life at stake at such a dangerous school.

And, of course, Professor Snape's position as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was vacant now. Hermione Granger had never really i liked /i Professor Snape, who would? She had, however, always respected and trusted him. So it was not so abnormal that she felt insulted on a personal level by his treason. She had been the one who had told her friends numerous times that Professor Snape's behaviour had nothing to do with his being a trusted member of the Order. He had always been menacing, sneering and unfair, but she had thought that at least part of it had been in order to deceive Voldemort. She had even defended him at Order meetings. Her instinct still refused to believe that he was a traitor, but her logic told her that there was no doubt. She had always relied on facts, had she not? How could she believe anything else now?

Tears welled from Hermione's eyes. She remembered her first year at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore's speech, his twinkling eyes, his lemon-drops, his fight in their forth year after Harry had been Portkeyed to Voldemort, how he had always protected his school...And now he was dead, killed by a man he had trusted.

Hermione had taken her N.E.W.T.s early; in fact she would have passed the exams after her fifth year with flying colours. No Potions masters had applied for the position at Hogwarts and after having filled out about fifty forms and taking some extra tests at the Ministry, Hermione had been allowed to fill in. Of course she knew that this would be only temporarily. As soon as a i real /i Potions master applied for this position, she would be replaced. But she was content knowing that it would be advantageous for her career to get some experience in teaching.

Now Severus Snape's office was hers, and also his lab and his private quarters. Everything smelled slightly unventilated, now that it had not been used for several weeks. The office had remained as Snape had left it, with gruesome specimens floating around in jars of preservative. It was so dismal and impersonal. However, the lab was immaculate. Snape had been a thorough and serious man, a pedant who had radiated fury if his orders were not followed minutely.

Snape had always referred to the students as dunderheads and although Hermione hated to admit it, often he had been right. The majority of them believed Potions was similar to cooking, throw a little of ingredient A into the cauldron, add a spoonful of ingredient B and let the concoction simmer for three hours. It always took a while until at least some of the students realised that quite a bit of magic was needed to brew a potion. The unspoken rule was the stronger the magical power the better the potion results.

Brewing was neither simple nor boring, a subtle change in the ingredients or the motions would result in a completely different potion, a lack of concentration and the potion was ruined. Hermione knew that Snape had invented several potions himself, but had never seen one of them in class. She had always noticed that Snape loved Potions, not teaching, but Potions. Even in his famous first-year-speech he used to intimidate the new students this love for Potions showed. The man who never showed his emotions -- and most of the students would swear he had none --showed kind of passion for this subject.

Enough musing about Snape, she admonished herself. He was brilliant, but he was also a ruthless murderer. Although Hermione was thrilled to teach Potions, she felt uncomfortable to move into Snape's quarters. Hermione of the Dungeons! It would have been funny if not for the circumstances. Entering Snape's chambers was odd enough; somehow he still seemed to be there, though his scent, sandalwood and the spices which had always surrounded him, did not linger any longer in his, no, i her /i rooms. The house-elves had removed his clothing and some of his personal items, but everything else had remained. A great walnut desk dominated the room; some scrolls were still lying there, but Hermione did not bother to read them. Snape's quarters had been thoroughly searched after the murder, and he was too cunning to leave any evidence behind that would lead to his whereabouts.

Examining the rest of the room, Hermione Granger's eyes widened and her breathing nearly stopped: She had guessed that Snape liked to read, but this library went far beyond her expectations. The room was filled with ten large shelves that went from the floor to the ceiling, and these shelves were stuffed with books. There were books on Potions, and rare editions of everything a witch could dream of: i Hogwarts a History, Dark Potions through the Ages, Pain & Potions, Dreams & Potions /i , textbooks, and rare journals of long deceased Potions masters. Hermione let her fingers linger on the spines and then pulled out one of the books. There were still some days left until she would have to teach, and what would be more wonderful than reading?

Several hours later Hermione sighed and got up; she had always been a person who would forget her surroundings completely while reading. Now it was time to put her stuff in the closets, the closets in Snape's old bedroom. It was as Spartan as expected, a large four-poster-bed with a dark green bedspread and dark curtains, a nightstand, a little armoire and a chair. She decided to redecorate it. Not that she was very much into the red and gold of Gryffindor colours; she liked green and changed the bedspread and the curtains into a grass green colour. Yes, and she would like the walls in a warm yellow, would also hang some pictures, and add some warm rugs and an easy chair.

The connecting bathroom was interesting. Professor Snape's greasy hair and crooked yellow teeth had generated rumours that he did not shower regularly or even own a toothbrush. Of course this was nonsense; she had noticed that Snape had always smelled clean when he had stood beside her cauldron trying to find a flaw in her potion. Nevertheless the bathroom was kind of a surprise, some would even call it luxurious. It contained a huge bathtub and everything was in marble, dark of course, but tasteful. He seemed to love grooming and pampering himself, weird, why would he have greasy hair then?

Hermione returned to the bedroom. A little book was still lying on the nightstand, and Hermione chuckled at the title of this book:Lust Potions . Who would have thought that Snape had any use for this? Well, he was not quite Mister-Great-Britain-material; maybe such potions had been necessary for him, though he had never been seen with a woman to her knowledge. She did not feel that comfortable with the thought of lust potions. It contradicted her Gryffindor sense of honesty, but she knew that most of her class mates had been more than eager to brew them. They liked to experiment, and simply had fun. But Snape and fun, these two words even in one sentence...

Hermione opened the book curiously and recoiled when she heard an all too familiar dark voice.

"Having fun, Miss Granger?"

The book dropped from her hands and fell to the floor with a thud. She looked around cautiously finally focusing on the thin figure of her former Potions master, or rather kind of a translucent figment, yes, it had to be a figment of her imagination.

"Miss Granger, I assure you, I am no figment of your imagination," the silky voiced Legilimens continued. "I knew you would be curious enough to open this book and, no, there is no use in showing this book to anybody else. The spell was activated by your opening the book; it is personalised and will not reveal anything to another person. So would you sit down and shut your mouth so that we can discuss the matters at hand? We need your help, or at least Professor Dumbledore thinks he needs your help."