Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.
A/N: I'm not sure if this is a clever thing to do, but as you can see, I've began writing a new story. I don't know what will come of it, how often there will be updates, or anything, because this is basically all that I have written by now. I don't like the idea of posting a story before I have more written, and I definitely don't like the idea of having yet another story out there that I don't know if it's ever going to be finished, but at the moment I'm in a state of confusion when my own fanfics are concerned and I feel that I have to do something. So, as far as my own WIP-fics are concerned, I cannot tell you when, or even if, they will be finished... but I hope for the best. Thanks for your attention and I hope you'll enjoy this, bad as it may be.
History lessons were, in the opinion of most Hogwarts students, something that you could record and listen to if you were having troubles sleeping. Professor Binns the ghost was, as is well known, a most boring and monotone teacher, and most students spent these lessons sleeping, and most of them got away with it, too. Binns was dealing facts, not myths or legends, and unfortunately, most people find legends so much more enticing than facts, especially when those facts were presented in the dry, reedy and wheezy voice of Professor Binns, that just tended to drone on and on for ever.
It is important to know one's history, but no one ever understood that from Professor Binns's tiresome lectures on goblin uprisings centuries back. History should be facts, yes, but they needed to be viewed in the light of recent events and in order to learn something from history, you had to understand that history was not just the facts in themselves, but a matter of reasons and consequences. Albus Dumbledore, the aged headmaster of Hogwarts school of wizardry and witchcrafts, wondered if perhaps the recent war could have been avoided, if only people would have known their history a little better, if people would have recognized any signs of something terribly wrong any earlier.
As the muggles said about the Holocaust – it must never happen again, and to make sure it would never happen again, it must never be forgotten or the evil of it never be disregarded. In Dumbledore's opinion, this concerned the recent war against Lord Voldemort, as well. People were, however, not ready to face what had happened or to analyze it to figure out when, how, and why things had gone so wrong. Everyone was just enjoying the sweetness of winning the war, the triumph of good conquering evil. While that was good, people were forgetting that things must not so easily be pushed away to the history, only to be remembered in another two hundred years when the goblin uprisings had completely grown out of fashion.
With Binns as teacher for History of Magic, however, nothing would change. First of all, he would never get any closer to the history 20th century than he ever had in his lessons so far, and secondly, if he did, no student would care to pay attention to that any more than to the goblin uprisings of the 14th century. Professor Dumbledore had watched many a lesson of History of Magic in the last year, and his estimable opinion was that something needed to be done. For once, there had been no need to find a new teacher for Defence against the Dark Arts, since Professor Virginia Blacklock had decided to stay another year just to prove that Lord Voldemort was truly gone, and all his curses with him, so perhaps the time had come to end the ghost's reign over History of Magic.
If there was someone around that could teach History of Magic, and hopefully there was someone, then certainly the headmaster would be able to find that person. Then the hardest part would be to coerce Binns of retiring.
This decision of Professor Dumbledore was made at the end of the school year, when the fifth years were engrossed with OWL:s and the seventh years troubled with NEWT:s, and never had so few NEWT:s been taken in History of Magic. OWL:s were compulsory, but after that, only the poor students that were not talented enough in enough practical subjects, like Transfiguration and Charms, chose History of Magic for their NEWT:s. History of Magic was not popular and it was not hard seeing why, nor was it any harder to figure out what change was needed. The problem was that it had been ages since there had been a student truly interested in History of Magic, and even longer since there had been someone that could possibly be suited as a teacher any better than Professor Binns.
It was the deputy headmistress that unwittingly served the solution to the problem. One early morning, when there was a desperate buzz of last minute reading among the fifth year Herbology students, Professor McGonagall was reading the Daily Prophet. Between a bite of her toast and a sip of her tea, she discreetly nudged the headmaster's arm:
"Look, it says Hermione Granger's graduated from Muggle university in Newcastle with a degree in history."
"Yes. That's the first thing that's heard about her in a long time, isn't it, Albus? Even the Daily Prophet gradually forgot about her – and that's just what she wanted. I wonder if she's got over the loss any better than when I last saw her…?"
"When was that, again?"
"Three years ago, at the Potter wedding. Don't you remember? She pretended to be doing so well, but it was clear to me that she was still grieving deeply." There was a sad look crossing Professor McGonagall's face, and she sighed, lost into her thoughts.
"You'd like to see you little lamb back, wouldn't you, Minerva?" Dumbledore asked.
"Yes, but how would anyone accomplish such a thing? She's just as stubborn as old Severus."
Yes, Albus thought, Hermione Granger certainly was stubborn, probably no less so than Professor Binns. Hermione Granger was twenty-five years old by now, had lost both her parents at the hands of death eaters, and the love of her young life, Ron Weasly, had passed away after months in hospital, due a few well aimed curses in the final battle. To many, her decision to withdraw from the wizarding world had come as a surprise, but those who knew her realized that she could not stand the sorrow she was constantly reminded of in the relatively small British wizarding society.
She was a war hero, of course. She, along with the likes of Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, and Arthur Weasly, had been the mind behind Potter's victory, and she had been one of the toughest witches in the last battle. She had survived the battle with no physical harm, but her soul was no longer the clear, white sheet it had once been.
It was an early morning in July when a letter sent by owl found its way to a small apartment in Newcastle. The young woman who received the letter was had intended to sleep late – it was her first day without a job to go to, and in the confused state of mind which she found herself in, she thought she should allow her that pleasure. She was not sorry to quit the work she had had for the last few years, beside studying muggle history, but at the same time it was in no way nice to be sacked simply because the boss though she was haughty just because she had got her baccaulreate degree. But then again, chances for a better job were bigger now that she had her degree, and Hermione Granger had never planned to remain a shop assistant her whole life. Still, it would have been nice to have a steady income while looking for another job.
The owl tapping her bedroom window brought back memories that she had long ago forced herself to stop thinking about. For a brief moment her fear took overhand, and she considered not letting the owl in, because she was sure that the letter, whomever it was from, only would bring back more painful memories, and after all, no one wrote a letter without expecting some kind of action from her side. She did not want to meet anyone from the wizarding world, and all her friends from those days knew that and accepted it. This meant that the letter had to be from someone who did not regard themselves as friends to such an extent that they would not disturb her. She had been very clear on that point when she returned to the muggle world, and there had not been an owl addressed to her for more than a year now.
However, owls were seldom sent away without a strict order to make sure that the letter was delivered to the right person, and this owl was not likely to leave without Hermione taking the letter first. So she got out of bed, grumbling and muttering, and crossed the small room to get to the window.
It was disturbing to see the Hogwarts seal on the envelope, and to realize that the owl did not leave once Hermione had taken the letter. Even after offering the owl a biscuit, it did not leave, and Hermione sighed.
"Fine, stay then, if you really want to. But don't expect me to be hospitable." She returned to her bed with her letter, and once she was comfortably seated against her pillows, she regarded the letter suspiciously. Why would anyone from Hogwarts write to her? She turned the letter over a few times to try to find some clues as to who had sent it, but found none. Then her curiosity got the better of her and she tore the letter open and started reading the old fashioned hand writing.
The owl watched the young woman's face closely as she read the letter. The looks on her face shifted slowly and as she got to the end, her face showed nothing but astonishment. Then she seemed to gather her thoughts and looked up at the owl on the window pane.
"So, your name's Imelda. I suppose you will have to wait then, until I have written a letter back to professor Dumbledore, but I'm afraid that I have no owl treats at home, so you'll just have to go hunting in the meantime. I need to think this over a little before I can write to him."
Imelda blinked at her and then took off, disappearing among the trees outside the window, and leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts.
Hermione got dressed and prepared breakfast as usually, but not really thinking about what she was doing. Her mind was somewhere else entirely – in a dusty old classroom in Scotland, where she had been taught about wizarding history by an old ghost. The thought of returning to teach, herself, was not as horrid as she first thought – that is, the thought of teaching was not bad at all. As a matter of fact, she had considered it likely that her next job would be as a teacher anyway, although in a muggle school. Hogwarts had never crossed her mind when she thought about a career, not even back when she had graduated or when she had been in school.
Dumbledore had a point, of course, Hermione had to admit that. Although she never had considered herself the teacher type, she had no doubt that she could at least become a better teacher than someone who was dead. And, with a degree in muggle history, she would only have to reread her books from her own school time to be able to teach and, perhaps, make history herself by changing the view on history among the wizards. The thought of teaching muggle children had been much less frightening than this prospect of teaching young wizards and witches, though. She sighed as she threw the tea bag into the refuse bucket. It did not matter if she really wanted to teach or not, the point was that she was not ready to return to Hogwarts or the wizarding world.
Then, suddenly, there was a little voice inside her head that said: "If you're not ready now – will you ever be?" She stopped in her movements and stared out of the window. The town was not the home she had hoped it would be when she first moved in. Her apartment did not feel like a home, either. She turned around and walked briskly over to the cupboard over the fridge, took a chair with her on the way and stood on it before she even realized what she was doing. She opened the door and retrieved a black, small box and jumped down to the floor again. She sat down by the table and had a sip of her tea before opening the box, though. She knew perfectly well what was in there, and she had not used it for two whole years.
It had been hard in the beginning, but slowly she had learned to get by in the muggle way. She had been born into a muggle home, after all, so it was just a question of changing her habits. Now, after more than two years, it felt strange to touch the wand again. She was taken aback by the power she felt surging through her body as she lifted the wand, and she looked bewildered as she uttered the first spell that came to mind:
"Wingardium leviosa!" and her teacup slowly rose in the air. As she leaned closer to the cup to take another sip of its content, it suddenly dropped – unused to doing magic as she was, she had forgot all about concentrating on keeping it in the air. A slightly irritated "reparo" was followed by a slightly less irritated and slightly more intrigued "scourgify", and then she smiled for the first time in what seemed a very long time.
Perhaps the time had come.