Returning to Hogwarts would be filled with ghosts for anyone, of course. But some people and some years had more history than others. Allosia Hemrand was returning to Hogwarts after nearly fifteen years to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. She was perfectly clear that she was probably not the best qualified for the job in terms of knowledge, but she was stable and strongly suspected that the ability to finish out the year without harming anyone, going insane or nearly getting herself killed were the traits that had gotten her hired.

Since she had left Hogwarts, all those years ago, she had not been back for either professional or personal reasons. Her years there had been wonderful, but in many ways, too good. Nothing had quite measured up afterwards, and the petty intrigues of adulthood had made much of the ridiculousness inter-house strife of Hogwarts seem oddly meaningful.

She had been, and supposed still was, Ravenclaw although it was never as much a part of her as it was many others. After all, she had broken the record for how long the Sorting Hat had had to think on what to do with her. What she had never told anyone else was that the other option had been Slytherin. And she was no help to the damn hat either. She debated with it, twisting logic around both it and herself. Would she like to be a political animal, or a student of politics? Would she be more powerful rising to power or being a great advisor to those in power? Which position would a Slytherin see worth in? Which would a Ravenclaw study for? Her practical, non-magical intelligence made her more Slytherin than many members of that troubled house. It also allowed her to befriend some of them, and at least keep the others at bay, which of course made everyone distrust her. She was fiercely loyal, but had nowhere obvious for her loyalties to lay.

Most of her friends were older, and she was kept around as a mascot, in the case of Ravenclaw, and as more of a pet, in the case of Slytherin. Amongst the Ravenclaws her closest friend had been a boy her age named Gage Garramond and amongst the Slytherins Severus Snape, a fifth year when she arrived at Hogwarts, had been her early protector and tormentor, not that he had had very many friends himself.

Gage had died six years ago, and it was one of the reasons Allosia had not returned for the reunion. She hadn't wanted to talk about it, or see his wife, or comfort people about it, or worse, need comforting herself. And she hadn't wanted to see Severus, not in that context, not after so many years and so many misunderstandings.

Now, she was grateful for not having been able to arrive at Hogwarts in time for the week long teachers' conferences before term. She could get right into work, and find her own rhythms and pace before anyone found the time to bother her about the past. If she was lucky,

Walking into the Great Hall was almost easy. Allosia steeled herself, and walked right down the center aisle, staring straight ahead at absolutely nothing. In her robes, a mix of baroque fabrics in dark green and black, with a hint of purple trimmings, she supposed she looked imposing. For now, she could live with that. As she approached the teachers' table she willed her personality into the on position and greeted Dumbledore with a handshake and a slight bow. He smiled at her and provided welcome, before turning to Professor McGonogall and noting, "it is my hope she can help us bridge some of the gaps here.' McGonogall, nodded, but was clearly distracted as she was watching the clock count down the final three minutes before she had to introduce the latest group of first years to life at Hogwarts.

Dumbledore quickly introduced Allosia around the table, and then directed her to her seat at the end, next to a seat that was still empty. As if reading her mind, Dumbledore, bent over and whispered in her ear, "he's still chronically late for anything involving other people." Severus.

Allosia practiced greeting him in her head. Hello Snape. Hello Professor. Severus, it's been a long time. All of it sounded dishonest to her. When she found out about the posting she'd sent an owl to him, just letting him know. She didn't think it would be right to surprise him, and she'd seen enough of Dumbeldore's tricks to know he might neglect to mention it. Severus had not responded.

He appeared by the door of the Great Hall halfway through the Sorting Ceremony. Allosia watched him under her eyelashes as he lounged in the doorway, still privileged, still graceful, still miserable and with a face like a carnival. As the last child was sorted, and into Slytherin at that, he entered, clapping his hands and shouting, "Well Done!" for his House. He hadn't the slightest idea what to say to her either. That was clear. Allosia directed her attention to Dumbledore as he made the final announcements before the meal and held her breath.

Snape sat down with an ill-tempered flourish of robes designed to intrude on her space and field of vision. She ignored it, until he leaned over to her and whispered, "I suggest you start breathing again, my dear," before helping himself to some corn and then summoning a bowl of green beans. Allosia swallowed, "Hello, Severus."