As Hermione stepped onto the Hogwarts express for her final year she got that strange feeling inside again. That feeling that had been haunting her all summer. She could feel that something special was about to happen this year.

She went along the corridor carrying Crookshanks's heavy basket. She could bet five galleons that cat had gained about 2 pounds over the summer.
She peaked into all the compartments she passed, but none of them seemed to contain Harry and Ron.
She was just starting to get a little bit worried when she heard a voice behind her that she recognized at once.
"Hermione, is that you?"
She turned on the spot to face her old Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher Remus Lupin. But he looked very different than he had the last time she saw him.
He looked younger, and not at all so worn out and tired. He had let his hair grow long, not too long but long enough not to be short. He was also wearing new robes instead of the tacky ones he usually wore.
Hermione couldn't help thinking how unusually handsome he looked.
"Yes professor, it's me".
"Well my, you have grown into quite a beautiful young lady".
Hermione could feel her cheeks going hot and red. She mumbled something looking down on the floor.
Lupin merely smiled and then offered to carry the basket for her. As he took it Hermione noticed that he looked surprised at its weight.
"Jolly, what have you got in there, bricks?"
Hermione giggled slightly. She didn't remember Lupin being funny.
"No" she said. "My cat has been eating too many rats this summer I think."
"Ahhh that cat!" Lupin grinned. "Well lucky I'm not in my werewolfshape right now then."
He turned and started walking down the corridor with Hermione behind him. She kept staring at his half long brown hair that looked slightly ruffled. It looked romantic and she thought she could smell shampoo.
Lupin stopped at an empty compratment.
"We can sit here if you like. I'm sure harry and Ron will find us eventually" he said opening the door for Hermione.
Normally she would have declined his offer with an excuse to find her friends as soon as possible, but now the thought of spending some time with this new and very much improved Lupin intrigued her.
She let him hold the door and sat down on one of the seats. Lupin put Crookshanks's basket on the luggage rack and sat down opposite Hermione. The cat hissed from inside the basket and hermione had to reach up to get him out. She saw in the corner of her eye that Lupin was in fact looking at her with some interest. If she wasn't totally mistaking he was glancing at her stomach which showed when she leaned up to reach the luggage rack.

She couldn't help feeling flattered and a bit excited by it. People of the opposite sex didn't often look at her like that. Not that she was ugly or anything, but people seemed to think of her more as a walking encyclopedia than a woman.

When she had let Crookshanks out of the basket she sat down again. Lupin met her eyes and smiled at her again. She had never noticed what a charming smile he had.
"So Hermione" he said. "What are you planning to do after school?"
"Umm...well I dunno really" Hermione replyed. She found it a bit hard to think about life after Hogwarts at the moment.
"Well a gifted person like yourself should concider a proffessin that is both rewarding and enjoyable".
Hermione knew she was blushing. Teachers gave her compliments every now and then but the way Lupin said "enjoyable" made her blush even more.
"Well I was thinking about teaching actually" she said suddenly remembering that. In fact McGonagall had almost offered her a post at Hogwarts teaching Magical History.
"Ahh the most noble proffession of all" said Lupin with a big grin. "I could see you teaching. The students would learn a lot from you".
Again Hermione could feel her cheeks going red.

During the next hour she and Lupin kept talking about all kinds of things. Defence Against The Dark Arts, Voldemort and DA. Lupin of course already knew about the DA and he seemed really interested in hearing about what Harry had tought them. Although Hermione noticed that while talking to her he kept looking at her, not only in the eyes. His gaze was definetly wandering from her neck, down to her chest and stayed there for a few seconds before going down to her legs.

She was just about to break the silence that had occured when the door to the compartment opened. Hermione turned to look at Ron and Harry standing there with big grins on their faces.
"Oi there you are!" Ron exclaimed. "And professor Lupin, what are you doing here?"
Lupin tore his eyes away from Hermione's legs and smiled back at Ron.
"Well Mr Weasley, I'm actually teaching at good old Hogwarts again".
Harry and Ron entered the compartment and sat down. Harry sat down beside Hermione and Ron beside Lupin.
"Not Defence again right?" asked Harry sounding suspicious.
Lupin sneared slightly.
"Oh no no I don't think that McGonagall would allow that again. No I'm teaching transfiguration this year".
Harry and Ron looked stunned. Transfiguration was a subject that was everything but exciting or dangerous. Not something for a an ex marauder.
Lupin saw the looks on their faces and defended himself at once.
"Look, it's money boys. I need it".
Harry and Ron nodded but said nothing. They just didn't think Lupin would take a job like this one even if he was short on money.

The atmosphere in the compartment was a bit tense for the rest of the trip, but they all tried to talk about everyday things. And as usually Harry did everything he could not to say anything that would make Lupin mention Sirius.

When the train finally slowed down as they were getting closer to Hogsmeade station they all changed into their robes and Harry and Ron left to find their luggage. Hermione put Crookshanks in his basket and then she and Lupin made their way out into the corridor. Lupin had again offered to carry the basket but regreted this as Crookshanks let one of his sharp claws stick out and scratch Lupin on the hand.

Once on the platform Lupin lead the way to the carrigaes pulled by the thestrals, which only some people could see. He found an empty carrige and put the basket in it waiting for Hermione to climb into it. She cast a quick glance behind her for Harry and Ron but as she didn't see them anywhere she got into the carrige followed by Lupin.
The ride up to the castle wasn't long. But Hermione was freezing in the cold night air. Lupin saw this and immideatly took his coat off and held it out to her.
"But professor" Hermione objected. "You'll be cold".
"Oh don't be silly, I'm tough, now take it you're shivering".
Hermione took the coat and wrapped it around her. It was warm and way too big for her. She looked over at Lupin who gave her a smile. She misled back well aware that she must look riddiculous in that coat.

Just before they reached the iron gates of the school they could hear a loud stroke of thunder and the next second the rain was pouring down.
When the carrige stopped Hermione held Lupin's coat over her head and they both ran towards the doors. When finally inside the entrance hall Lupin turned to Hermione again.
"Will you be ok now? I have to go join the other poor slaves here" he said with a wink.
"Yeah sure, thank you professor" Hermione answered as Lupin turned away and walked into the great hall.

The feast was a lovely as ever. Ron dug into his mountain of food with his usual appetite that made everyone around him feel sick. Hermione ate little, and kept looking towards the staff table. She only did so, however, when she knew that Lupin wasn't looking her way. But she did see him doing so more often than what was normal.
She barely listened to Harry and Ron's talks about Quidditch and some wizard getting harassed by a goblin in the east. It was only when she heard Harry mention Tonks's name that she opened her ears. Tonks! Damnit!
Lupin and Tonks had gotten together at the end of last year. They had seemed very much in love then. But was that different now? Maybe she had just been imagining things after all.
"So now apparently they broke it off". Ron's voice interrupted Hermione's thoughts.
She said nothing, only listened.
"But why?" asked harry sounding surprised. "They seemed so crazy about each other".
"Yeah I know it's weird. But then again Tonks has always been a bit head strong hasn't she".
Hermione couldn't help feeling as if her whole body got lighter at once. She didn't want to think like that but she couldn't help it. She was relieved. It was wrong, but still...

When they had all finished their meals and the delicious desert McGonagall stood up. She clapped her hands to get everyone's attention. The whole room went quiet. This was usually the moment when Dubledore made his little speech. Hermione had always found them silly yet amusing. But now Dubledore would never make another speech again.
McGonagall raised her voice and began to speak.

"Hello and welcome to all of you!
I know that you're not used to me making a speech like this, but as I am now the headmistress of this school it's one of my duties.
I will not make it too long. I just want to say that I will do my best to fulfill my duties to you and to the school.
This was very unexpected, what happened at the end of last year, and I know we all grieve our dear departed headmaster.
But we need to do our best not to linger in the past. He would have told us the same.
Also I wish to tell you that it would not be wise to expect me to be like him. I am me and you are you.
Now it's time we all went to bed."

No one got up from their seats. Everyone sat still obviously wondering what would happen now. Was this really all?
Professor McGonagall stood up again. "Well go to bed then, NOW!"
There was a loud noise in the hall from everyone getting up from their seats as fast as they could.
No one dared doing anything else than what the headmistress told them to.
As Hermione Harry and Ron went through the crowd towards the Gryffindor tower Hermione turned to look back towards the great hall. No Lupin...
"You know what I reckon?" Ron said turning to Harry first and then to Hermione. "I reckon McGonagall had little crush on Dubledore".
Hermione would normally have sighed and told Ron he was being silly, but now when she thought about it it didn't seem very silly. The two teachers had been working together for a very long time and they had indeed been very close. Maybe they had been more than friends. That would explain why McGonagall acted so differently. She was grieving too.