By: Airelle Vilka

Professor of Illusions

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Summary: Airelle is a teacher at Hogwarts. So is Snape. Oh, dear, what a combination… (SEQUEL TO WINTER ONCE AGAIN)

Chapter 1 The First Day

I'm going completely insane, thought Airelle Vilka as she lay slumped on her bed in one of the towers of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Oh, Vilka, you are losing it. Thank heavens you retired.

She wrapped her slim, almost frail-looking form tighter in her dark blue bed sheets and tried to block out the incident from the previous night. Foolish, inane fantasies. What was she doing even having them in the first place? She had not drunk anything that night. All she had done was sit for about three hours and listen to Severus Snape piece together the puzzle of the past and present. So why, in the middle of that seemingly normal conversation, did she suddenly have a -- a vision -- of them—

Airelle shuddered as the feeling came back to her. Even as a hallucination, it had felt-- but for Merlin's sake, this was Snape she was talking about… Snape the nasty, ambitious, sarcastic, often mean-- but…

She punched her pillow, more out of anger with herself than anything else. The question that pounded her head like an out-of-control Bludger was WHY? Why on earth would she suddenly think like that about her best friend, with whom she could have slept in the same bed as a teenager and not cared? This was too odd. Airelle had never had a 'beau' before, not at Hogwarts and not since. Snape was the only man who'd ever gotten close enough to see most of her sides. So was that why she had suddenly found herself, last night, after such a long time, thinking about…? -- It did not make sense. Perhaps she was making up for lost time as a teenager?

Airelle rolled her eyes at her own strange conclusions and finally decided, It was an odd experience, a one-time thing. Everybody has them. Right. So, there was nothing to be scared about. Maybe that had come as a result of nervous jitters after seeing him for the first time in almost twenty years. So why did she still feel queasy the morning after?

She sighed and sat up, bare feet hanging off the bed. Snape was surely going to question her about why she'd left so suddenly. Great. She wanted to raise her wand to her own head and mutter, "Obliviate!" so that she'd forget everything that happened. But then, there was a risk of her forgetting the other things he had told her. About Crouch, Fudge, the Death Eaters, Voldemort…

Voldemort. She shook her head, as if the word were too bitter to harbor in her mind. She just could not believe he was back. And if the Dark Lord was as powerful as before… then, could history repeat itself? Could he bring back the times that had been when he prevailed? Would they all be dead by then? Even Snape? Airelle did not want to think about that. She almost wished Snape were already dead so that there was no chance of her seeing him die with her own eyes.

But no, that was selfish. Like Snape had said the night before – they were to face whatever came. But that did not mean they were to be unprepared. Airelle made up her mind to start making potions with her friend again, to practice spells, to teach students – everything needed to be protected from an attack that could come at any second…

But for now, there were closer things to worry about. Like… breakfast!

Somewhere, a bell chimed, and Airelle jumped. There was a half an hour left for the students, and since teachers needed to be there a bit early—she only had fifteen minutes.

Pointing her wand at a comb on the table, she muttered, "Reglia," and it flew to her hair as she stared into the mirror on her wall. Floating by itself, the comb ran painfully through the white strands from top to bottom and with another word, a strap tied it into a ponytail that reached to her waist. Airelle winced from the comb and put on her black headband, topped by a dark blue stone in the middle that she had worn since her own days at Hogwarts. The rest was very much routine, save for an extra warm under-robe, since it was, after all, December… and it was probably cold downstairs. The last to come after her shoes was the standard black professor's robe. She paused in front of mirror before fastening it.

Airelle Vilka. Illusions. No, wait, she thought. Professor Airelle Vilka. Professor. Wow.

Airelle sighed; she was acting like a hyper schoolgirl again. Still, she smiled as she drew the robe around her. The hem of the sleeves carried a slight tinge of blue that only showed in a certain slant of light. Ravenclaw pride.

She smiled into the mirror. Today, she was going to sit at the Teachers' Table. With Dumbledore. And McGonagall. And… yes, and Snape. It would be quite an interesting day, indeed. She never thought the two of them would end up here, of all places, so close to where they had been at school, and yet so far from their student days. It was almost funny.

Airelle grinned again and tucked her wand inside her robes. Now she knew how the teachers always seemed to have everything inside their garments. Not only was there a myriad of pockets, but also, they were bewitched with an Expanding Spell, so that they would not bulge even if you had a lot of things in them. Neat.

She straightened herself, took a breath (this one was purely for histrionics) and headed outside her room, towards the Great Hall.

Most of the students were still not there when Airelle walked into the gigantic hall, but most of the teachers were. She blinked as she recognized Rubeus Hagrid, the gamekeeper, seated beside tiny Professor Flitwick, who looked about thirty times smaller than the former, at the table. Hagrid was a teacher?

Airelle smiled and walked closer, where an empty chair was looking very lonely between Professor Minerva McGonagall and Hagrid. She made to sit, but Professor Trelawney, a strange woman with large glasses, raised her hand and said in a misty voice, "No, no, dear. That is… ah, Professor Snape's chair."

Airelle bit her lip. Oops. She looked for another one and found it all the way at the end, right beside-- Remus Lupin??

Everyone had his or her eyes raised to her now. She somehow tore her gaze away from Lupin, who was smiling oddly, and gave them her best smile, glad to see that she recognized most of them. There was Professor Binns (why he was at the table was beyond her, since he was a ghost and could not eat anyway), Professor McGonagall, Dumbledore, Professor Sinistra, Flitwick, Hagrid (whom she wanted to hug, but kept a professional air)… the list went on.

"Welcome, Airelle," said McGonagall, rising from her chair and taking Airelle's hand into her own. "The Headmaster told us you were scheduled to arrive."

"And so I have, Headmistress McGonagall," Airelle replied.


"Minerva," Airelle repeated, the name rolling off her tongue and sounding very disturbing. This used to be her Transfiguration teacher, after all. And now… they were on a first name basis.

Airelle finished greeting everyone (with Hagrid laughing heartily at having her back, and Dumbledore giving her an odd smile that made her wonder if he'd been listening in on the previous night's conversation) and made her way to the empty chair beside Lupin. She fought the urge to call him "Loopy" and just shook hands.

"I cannot believe this," she said as students began to file slowly into the Great Hall, "three former classmates, together back at Hogwarts."

Lupin smiled mildly. Airelle noticed a kind of sickly aura around him, now that she was sitting close.

"Are you feeling well?" she asked without thinking. Lupin stared at her, and then shook his head.

"Just a little under the weather, that's all."

"Oh," she replied, and did not pursue the subject any longer. Lupin did look rather ill, but she did not need any more mysteries to figure out for now.

Snape (looking pale and spiteful) arrived just as the last of the students did, and took his place next to McGonagall and Hagrid without casting his gaze on Airelle. She was not upset by this fact; Snape had always been nasty on the exterior, and gave out the perfect impression to his colleagues that there was nothing too much between himself and Airelle. Which was a good thing in any case, since Airelle did not want people to know a lot just yet about their friendship.

Everyone had settled down by now, and Dumbledore rose with a swish of robes. His voice boomed out over the Great Hall.

"Students," he said as everyone grew quiet, "if I could gain your attention for one moment before we begin breakfast… I would like to announce a new addition to our esteemed staff of Hogwarts."

Airelle slowly felt her face going red, as if she were stricken with a Blush Charm. Oh no. This was it, she had to get up, and all the students' eyes were going to turn towards her. Nice, she thought to herself as Dumbledore announced her name to the Great Hall. You can fight Death Eaters, but you feel shy at standing up in front of young children.

Lupin nudged her a little and she stood up. And of course, everyone's eyes were swiveled to her. Concentrating on one face in the crowd, that of a Gryffindor girl with bushy brown hair, Airelle Vilka smiled. This was followed by some low clapping and a few whispers. Airelle sat back down, feeling like she'd been interrogated by the Misuse of Magic Department at the Ministry.

"Professor Vilka," continued Dumbledore, "shall be teaching an elective for the fifth years up. It is the highly difficult and dangerous subject of Illusions, and has not been taught at Hogwarts for fifteen years." At this, the Headmaster smiled at Airelle warmly. "We are very privileged to have her with us; please make her feel welcome. Hmm…oh, you may sign up for the Friday Illusions class starting today. That is all…now eat!"

As breakfast appeared on their plates, Airelle gazed out over the crowd. The Gryffindors… Hufflepuffs… Ravenclaws, her own house…and…

Her eyes ran over the Slytherin table, and she caught sight of a thin young boy, probably a fifth year or so, looking at her while whispering to his two burly friends. Airelle, even from where she was, got an instant chill that she had only felt long ago, in the presence of--

Malfoy. That had to be Lucius Malfoy's son, and none other. Immediately Airelle pitied the mother of this offspring of hate. Of course, this Malfoy boy was rather handsome for his age, with fine chiseled features and wisps of white-blonde hair that was not too far off from Airelle's own colour. Of course, why wouldn't he be handsome? Lucius Malfoy certainly was, Airelle had to admit as she was flung back into the past. The older Malfoy, who, Airelle knew, had recently been sacked as a school governor, had been quite good-looking. But so horrible. A hundred times worse than Snape had ever been…

These were Airelle's thoughts as her eyes broke from Malfoy and pored over her egg salad. Oh, dear, this was going to be an interesting time.

To be continued…