Disclaimer: If they were mine, I wouldn't be posting them for free, and Hermione never would have ended up with Ron while Snape died.
Author's Note: Greetings Readers! This is the first chapter in a long, completed story. I won't give you the exact number, but there are more chapters than my age. As a personal challenge, each is 5,000 words long at least.
This story is a fluffy romance, mixed with angst, drama, and humor, and will become quite naughty in later chapters. I have included a few OC's, only one which is prominent, and none are Mary Sues. There is nothing real squicky and no major CD, although there is a final battle.
Also, the majority of these chapters will be accompanied by music. I will give you the Youtube playlist link should you wish to listen along. It is not required, but I believe it will heighten the experience. (Or I wouldn't make videos for 130+ songs). The songs are not meant to be timed exactly to their appearance in the story. I give notes like this (1) when a song starts. Feel free to forward it to the next song when you see the next annotation (2) or just stop it when you will. Some songs have been removed by Youtube- sorry - but the last chapter here contains a full list of the music.
This story was started as my own NaNoWriMo, and I just followed the guidelines for four months instead of one. It was written between November 1st, 2009 and March 7th, 2010. I will post at least one chapter each week, and if the reviews are steady, I may post more.
Enjoy, and please, please, with a Severus on top, take a few moments to give me your thoughts. They are the reason I write.
Playlist: (remove spaces) www. youtube watch?v=n7f_14Z299I&feature=PlayList&p=B99C88FCB0404DA0&index=0&playnext=1
Professor Snape quickly walked through the door to Flourish and Blotts. After receiving the owl that his order was in, he was impatient to pick up the sought after tomes before something happened to them. He was Severus Snape, after all. Things did not go his way.
In fact, things had not gone his way for quite some time. Voldemort was starting to increase his attacks on the Wizarding world. This meant not only did he have to endure the loss of more colleagues and Order of the Phoenix members; he was also kept busy most of his evenings with Order business or, unfortunately, business for the Dark Lord.
At the end of the sixth year for the infamous Potter trio, Snape had been forced to commit his greatest crime and deepest regret. He had to kill his mentor and ally, Albus Dumbledore. Albus had helped him through the most trying times of his life, and yet now, when he finally would have appreciated having him meddling in his affairs, Snape was alone.
Somehow, Minerva McGonagall had convinced the rest of the Order members that there truly was an Unbreakable Vow taken, and through Pensieve memories of Snape, and their newest ally, Draco Malfoy, Snape had been allowed to remain with the Order. Working him back into Hogwarts was another matter completely.
Newly instated Headmistress McGonagall told the world that Dumbledore had fallen off the Astronomy Tower, and even though Snape had tried valiantly to save him from the curses of the Death Eaters, there was nothing that could be done. Fortunately, no one was going to contradict her story, and her credibility was impeccable. Thus, he was allowed to keep his job, though under a bit of suspicion, which, of course, was not new to the spy.
On occasion, however, the doubt would creep in. Typically in the darkest hours before dawn, as the oil burned bright on the torches, he wondered what it would be like. How would it feel to walk the halls without shifting eyes and looking behind one's shoulder? How would it be to not double check all of your procurements for spells, poison, and sabotage? Would it be possible that one day he might be free from this burden he carried? Although one of his masters was gone, the burden had not gone. It still remained. Oh yes, it remained.
But no, those days had not, and would not, come to one such as him. That was not his lot in life. His was to be a cog, a wheel in dreams and freedoms of others, only to watch from the sidelines as his own passed by.
But no matter.
Soon there would be a new flock of dunderheads in the castle. More detentions then he would know what to do with to keep him occupied. And who knew what would be the tasks he would have to take on, either for or against his nemesis, in the process of, hopefully, ridding the world of the monstrosity that called himself Lord Voldemort.
Snape shuddered. It was difficult to say the name, even in his mind. Too many horrors were recalled, both witnessed and experienced, in the name of that moniker, to not leave any physical abhorrence to its utterance.
He shook his head as though to clear a pesky insect, and continued his trek inside the bookstore. He walked straight to the man behind the counter and asked for his order. The young man quickly went into the small room in back where the special orders were kept, and hastily returned with a large parcel with his name on it. Snape took the bundle over to a nearby vacant conversation area where he proceeded to unwrap the brown paper. He never left without insuring that his items were exactly as he requested and paid for.
Sitting in the overstuffed chair, he couldn't help but take a moment to relax and peruse a recently imported Journal of Potions. (1) As he laid his head upon the headrest of his chair, he furrowed his brow. Was that music? Odd. Flourish and Blotts had never had music in the store in the past. Certainly, with the scrutiny of all things Muggle lately, they wouldn't be using one of those Seedy Players that his students referenced having at home. Well, whatever it was, it was soothing, and so he listened as he continued to read his article.
After a while had passed, he realized he was paying more attention to the piano than to his article. After reading the same section several times over and not retaining the material, he gave in and closed his eyes to the sound, momentarily trusting his safety to the public bookstore in the middle of the day.
The bright staccato rhythm of the notes tinkled through the bookstore, and seemed softened by brushing against the soft parchment and fabric. He felt himself unwind and breathe deeper as he relinquished critical thought for a brief moment.
Suddenly, the music stopped and began again. (2) This song was heavy, loud and strong. Snape was reminded of a rapidly flowing current or the students as that passed through the hallways in between classes.
Almost as soon as it began, the song was finished, and flowed into another gentler piece .(3) He let out a sigh he hadn't realized he'd been holding and once again felt himself relax against the chair. While not as soft as the first piece he heard, he still could not deny the inherent beauty of a well played piano. Such a clear and expressive instrument. Versatile and used in any genre. He couldn't think of anything that stood up as well to solo performance, not that he knew or paid much attention to these kinds of things. No, Snape was not a connoisseur of music, or even an appreciator, really. He must have just been caught unawares.
Some time had passed, and he rose out of his chair to inquire after the source of this music. (4) It was as relaxing as Firewhiskey, he surmised, without the nasty side effects. Snape was unable to contain his surprise as he rounded a bookshelf to find not only a piano in a cleared section of the floor, but also one of his own students at the helm.
Hermione Granger appeared to be the embodiment of the physical state he was in. Eyes almost shut, she was leaning into and over the keys as she played, not giving a trace of thought to the patrons around her who were reading, chatting softly, or simply watching her as she played. Her fingers graced the keys, and she swiftly turned a page, not even looking up to notice her professor standing off to her side.
He took this moment to watch her as the others were. She seemed very different here, in this environment, than she did in his classroom. This was not unexpected, of course, having come across his students frequently outside of the confines of Hogwarts. There was something about her, however, that piqued his interest.
She seemed…taut, focused. And, clichéd as though it was, mature beyond her years. He had recognized, even through his forced bias, that she would become a force to be reckoned with when she came into her own, and it appeared as though he was getting a glimpse of that witch.
The witch in question had stopped playing and was now looking at him with a raised brow. "Can I help you, sir?" she inquired, intrigued.
"What were you playing?"
Her eyebrow arched a bit higher. "I was in a Liszt mood, I suppose."
"You were listless, Miss Granger? I hardly believe that coming from you. You are hardly one to sit idle and unguided toward some unfortunate task."
She gave a short exhale. "Liszt, not listless, sir. He was a Hungarian composer. He is known for inventing the symphonic poem, the concept of thematic transformation, and experimenting with harmony departures in musical form, and he was a contemporary of Saint-Saens, Berlioz, Chopin, Grieg, Wagner…did you need something?"
"May I ask why you are monopolizing this poor proprietor's piano, Miss Granger?"
"Not that it's any of your business, sir, but I am on my break at the moment." She gave him a nonchalant look that clearly let him know he was wasting her time, so if he had a point, get to it.
"And your supervisor allows you to come and play during your free period? Who is your supervisor?" he asked. And why was he asking? He certainly didn't care if this chit decided to walk to Calcutta by way of San Francisco, he scolded himself.
She seemed to have had the same thought and, taking pity on his moment of curiosity, answered in a civil tone. "Yes, he does. And my supervisor is Mr. Flourish. Now, if there is nothing you require, I'll be going back to my job now."
"Why are you working during your summer, Miss Granger, instead of wheedling away the hours with your parents or your...compatriots?" He couldn't seem to stem his tide of curiosity, realizing he had never just spoken with her before.
If she flinched a little at the mention of her friends and family, she hid it well, but couldn't help but respond. "Why am I…you really don't know, do you? I'm here because, well, I suppose I'm here because I need to be. I needed a job, he needed a clerk. Kismet. Now, if you don't need me, sir, I really need to get back." She fidgeted a little, and then quickly started to fold and tidy her sheet music.
He regarded her for a moment, and then brusquely walked out of the shop.
Hermione walked up the long drive to the Burrow after her shift at the bookstore. It had been a long and taxing day, and she was looking forward to the little gathering that the Weasleys were holding before term resumed at Hogwarts. She walked in the front door, set down her book bag, and greeting the red haired clan before her.
"Hello, everyone. Sorry it took so long to get here. The Floo was completely backed up today. Couple more weeks until I can actually Apparate," she said apologetically and took a seat at the table between Ron and Ginny, giving Harry a wave.
"Bout time," grumbled Ron. "We've been waiting on you for ages. Don't know why you had to take that ruddy job in the first place."
"Ronald!" His mother snapped her attention to the dining room from the kitchen at the harsh words from her son. "You know very well that Hermione wants to do this, and it is not your place to judge her. I think it's a wonderful thing, Hermione dear, that you've been able to be productive over the summer. You're become a very fine young lady."
Mrs. Weasley gave Hermione a brief squeeze before heading back into the kitchen. "Now, who is ready for supper?"
During dinner, all the guests enjoyed the splendid food and conversation. Hermione hadn't seen Harry or Ron much over the summer, and was grateful to have a carefree evening before they had to worry about school again. The Death Eater attacks hadn't gone unnoticed by the trio, either, so while they were not fully members of the Order, they were still keeping their ears to the ground.
They were having their dessert when they heard Mr. Weasley answer the door. "Ah, my dear, I'm so pleased to see you've made it. Please, come in, come in." He carried on before the frazzled bundle was able to say a word edgewise. "I'm Arthur, of course. There's my wife, Molly. Most of our kids are here. There's Charlie, George, Fred, Ron, and Ginny on the end. And we have other guests this evening. Remus, Tonks, Hermione, and Harry. Everyone, meet Lorrell, our foreign exchange student!"
"Um, hi," said Lorrell to the crowd as they all waved when their names were called. "I hope there isn't going to be a test. A lot of you look awfully similar."
Hermione watched as the new girl came into the room, and noticed she wasn't the only one watching. The girl was taller than Hermione's short stature and was more husky both in voice and frame. Hermione tore her gaze from the girl's ample chest and backside to look down at her own thin frame and for the first time, felt a bit inadequate. Though some may think of the Lorrell as more heavy set, it was obvious one person in the room thought she was just about right.
"Ron!" Hermione said loudly. "Weren't you guys going to get a Quidditch game started? Why don't you all head outside, and I'll help her get settled."
"Yeah, 'Mione, that sounds like a great idea. C'mon guys, let's head out while the light's bright," Ron said to the rest of the room.
Everyone quickly stood up from the table, gathered their plates and glasses and headed into the kitchen.
"Oh, out, out, all of you! Honestly, this is my kitchen, and I can tidy things just fine without all of you in here. Now, out and enjoy your game, and I'll join you in a jiffy," Mrs. Weasley said as she hurried everyone outside. "Her room will be across from Ginny, dear. In P-Percy's old room." She quickly turned back to the washing.
Hermione led Lorrell up the twisting stairwell. "Who's Percy?" Lorrell whispered. "I don't know if I want to spend the night in some dead guy's room, ya know?"
Hermione laughed. "Percy isn't dead. He's another Weasley child, but he's chosen to not be affiliated with them any longer. Mrs. Weasley is coming to terms, but it's still better to let her bring it up and not the other way around. They have another son too, Bill. He's probably off working with Gringotts right now, but you may meet him in time. So, where are you from?"
"Mr. Weasley never got that far did he? Well, hi. My name's Lorrell Pepple. I'm from the States. I was going to Van Andel Academy of Wizards and Wands back home, but the school got signups for exchange students, and my mom thought it'd be good for me to try something new, stretch out a bit. My parents are getting divorced. Muggles, you know? It's not pretty; my sister is taking it kinda hard."
"I know how you feel." Hermione opened to door to Lorrell's room, and helped her set down her things. "My parents just died."
Lorrell and Hermione came down after a while to find most everyone up on brooms. Ginny, Ron, George, and Tonks were on one side with Fred, Charlie, Harry, and Remus on the other. It was unclear who was winning, but everyone was having a good time.
Hermione set herself down on the picnic table next to Mrs. Weasley. "Feel free to jump on in, dears. With you two it would make a full team."
"I don't fly," both girls responded.
"You don't fly?" asked Hermione. "Why ever not?"
"Too much in the front, too much in the back, you know? Hard to stay stable on a broom. I'd rather just walk. It's safer. What about you?"
"I'm not sure really. Just never had a fondness for it. I can fly just fine; I just don't care to put that much trust in a magical object. Mr. Weasley says to never trust something if you can't see where it keeps its brain."
Lorrell nodded her head understandingly, and they both watched the proceedings of the game.
Mr. Weasley leaned over to Hermione to talk softly to her. "You know, Hermione, you are always welcome in this house. No matter who we have here, there is always room for you, alright? You've done well for yourself this summer. Just never think you don't have a place to come back to."
Hermione's face tensed as she tried to stop the few tears that escaped. "Thank you, Mr. Weasley."
"Arthur, Hermione. Call us Arthur and Molly, since we already call you daughter, regardless of your relationship to our son."
That was the catalyst for Hermione, and as she hugged Mr. Wea…Arthur, she let the tears fall.
Hermione returned to the castle she had briefly called home. Since her parents passing was within weeks of the start of term, it was decided she would be welcome to return early. The fact that they died from a Death Eater attack was all the more reason to ensure the safety of the young Miss Granger.
She had little family to speak of. A few distant great aunts, but mostly it had just been her and her parents. She was an only child begotten by only children, but if their family had been small, it was more than made up for with warmth and love. After her parents deaths, the decision for her relocation was made almost before Hermione had even realized what had happened, and she found herself and her things in the empty seventh year Gryffindor dormitory.
She trudged up the pathway leading to the main doors. Only Headmistress McGonagall, Hagrid, and Mr. Filch had stayed on over the summer. With all the teachers away, the castle was large and foreboding, but Hermione had felt peace there in the two weeks since the funeral.
And she supposed it wasn't that strange that Professor Snape hadn't heard anything. There were quite a few other Muggle deaths in that evening's raid. She wasn't even positive Voldemort had had them targeted specifically. It was possible they were just in the wrong place at the right time. With only a handful of people in attendance at the funeral – herself, Harry, the Headmistress and the Weasleys – and with her safety as top priority, there hadn't even been an obituary in the Daily Prophet.
And after the death of Professor Dumbledore, Hermione hadn't even seen or heard anything about her professor or his whereabouts other than the fact he would be returning. She was one of the few who knew the truth of Dumbledore's demise, but she trusted the judgment of her elders and was content to be his pupil again. He was a known devil, as they say, and she knew what to expect from his classroom at least.
Hermione reached the large doors of the castle and went inside. She knew that the Headmistress had asked to speak to her upon her return to the castle. It felt awfully strange riding the steps up to the office that for so long held Professor Dumbledore, even though Hermione had already been up there several times more under McGonagall's tutelage. As the stairs wound to a halt, Hermione stepped off and greeted the Headmistress.
"Back so soon, Hermione? I wasn't expecting you for a few hours yet, at least."
"Sorry, ma'am. The Weasleys were playing Quidditch," Hermione responded. She walked into the room and took a seat in what she considered to be her chair, on the side of the desk by the fireplace. She had come up here often in the past few weeks for company and to talk off some of the weight on her chest, and she and the headmistress had grown fond of each other.
"Yes, then say no more. I know you do not have an affinity for flying. I hear their hosted student arrived safe and sound?"
"She did. I met her this afternoon and helped her to get settled. She said she is an exchange student. If I may ask, who did we exchange?"
Minerva smiled. "I know you will be saddened to hear of this, Hermione, but I'm afraid your final year will have to be without Miss Brown. It's seems as though the heartache of her breakup with Mr. Weasley and subsequently seeing you both together was too much for her to bear, and her parents thought it best for her to finish her education elsewhere. This was a prime opportunity for us all. Miss Brown gets the opportunity to visit the States for a year while we can continue magical cooperation and education by bringing in a foreign Muggle-born witch. Surely, you understand the times, Hermione."
Hermione inclined her head in agreement. With Voldemort still on the rampage, and attacks increasing all the time, it would be easy for the world to simply cast out the Muggle-born witches and wizards to avoid coming to catastrophe at the hands of the madman. Many people, however, were working night and day to increase the bond between both worlds. Hogwarts was one of the bastions of peace. "May I ask why you asked me here this evening, Headmistress?"
"My reasons are twofold. I know this is a hard thing to go through, dear, but have you heard anything about your parents will and estate?" Professor McGonagall was reluctant to ask, but she knew that some things needed to be taken care of regarding her parent's possessions, and it was better handled before the school year.
"Yes ma'am. I'll show you what I received." Hermione held out her hand and said, "Accio will." After a few moments, a folded letter whizzed through the door and straight into Hermione's outstretched hand. She unfolded it and handed it to the Headmistress. Hermione knew the short letter by heart by this point, and waited patiently for it to be looked over.
"I see that you are full executor, Hermione, and that everything will fall to you in a few weeks on your birthday. Do you know the full extent of your inheritance?" McGonagall hated to be so forthright but she needed to know the girl would be taken care of.
"Well, my parents were older, and we have no other family, really. My dad has some family back in Australia, we think, and my mom has some here, but they were never close. So that means everything will fall to me. My parents had our house, their practice, two cars, and a small vacation cabin. I believe everything is paid for fully, or will be shortly. They also both had life insurance policies."
"Hermione," said McGonagall, "I hope you realize that in the face of such a tragedy, your parents have made you a very wealthy young woman. Do you know how you wish to carry on? Are you planning on staying in the magical world? You know that you have my support with whatever you choose, but I'd help you in any way that you needed if you wished to stay."
Hermione was touched at her kind words. "Thank you, Headmistress. There isn't really anything for me in the Muggle world anymore. I had planned on going to Gringotts, and getting everything transferred into my vault as Galleons. I'll probably sell the property, and buy something of my own. I loved our house growing up, but I don't think I want to live where my parents died." She felt her heart grow heavy having to say such words, but they were true. Never would that be her happy childhood home, and it was better to take her memories as they were, and leave them without the ones of terror and sorrow that she would have if she ever returned.
McGonagall gave her student a spot of tea and a Ginger Newt while she turned to other related matters. "This brings me to my second question for the evening, dear. Do you know what you want to do after you graduate?"
Hermione took a deep breath as she thought over the question. "Ideally, or practically, ma'am?"
She gave her young pupil a smile. "Why don't you let me hear both?"
"Well, practically, I plan on finishing out my N.E.W.T.s here and graduation. Afterward, I hope to go on to a Wizarding university and complete my Charms or Transfiguration degree. I'll probably take a bit of my savings and buy a flat or small house, and Crooks and I can share it while I finish school. I figured I could tutor or teach piano until I finish, because I'd hate to be completely dependent on the money from my parents. I'd like to join the Order, officially, as soon as I can, and I want to help in the cause."
"And ideally, Hermione?" This was the response the Headmistress had most been waiting for and she fought not to twinkle like her predecessor, who was watching the proceedings from a high up portrait frame.
"Well," said Hermione, and she paused. Did she really want to be so open, so straightforward? So Gryffindor? If she never said anything, it could never happen, and she knew that she had said this would only be in an ideal situation. "If I may be so bold, Headmistress, there has really only been one dream I've had since discovering I was a witch and coming here to learn. I've found that my quest for knowledge is matched only by my desire to help others achieve the same. I know it could never happen to someone so young, and so untrained as myself, but I hope to, eventually that is, one day have enough magical education and experience to come back and teach." Hermione looked her former professor in the eye and held her breath.
McGonagall gave her a smile. "You have no idea how pleased it makes me to hear that, dear."
Hermione gave her a puzzled looked and couldn't help blurting out, "Huh?"
McGonagall laughed a little and explained. "Well, as it so happens, we have a replacement Transfiguration professor for this year, but next year, we will be searching again. I have spoken with the governors and my current Deputy Headmaster, Professor Flitwick, and we all have come to an agreement. Hermione Granger, I would like to formally extend to you the invitation to work with me and the other professors through the school year to get some hands on and practical knowledge from all of us, so that we may all have a hand in passing along our knowledge to you, and to give you our full support so that you may officially join the staff at Hogwarts the following year. I, personally, will guide you in what further knowledge you need for Transfiguration, but honestly, I think you could almost step up to the task now."
Smirking, the headmistress leaned forward in her chair to whisper conspiratorially, "Not to mention, you will be the youngest teacher ever on staff, beating Severus by two years. And a Gryffindor too!"
Before Hermione had a chance to recover her wits and respond, McGonagall continued. "Also, Hermione, it would do my heart good to know that you had somewhere safe to be, regardless of the climate outside this castle, where you could reside. We may need that mind one day, whether it be in the near further or down the road, and I could never dishonor the trust your parents placed in us as a safe harbor and world for their child. I wish for you to remain here, Hermione, or at the Burrow, or at Headquarters, if you wish to leave for the holidays or at the end of the year. I cannot think about you being on your own."
By now, Hermione's breathing was returning to normal, but she was still struggling with everything she had been told. "Ma'am, I only have one question. If Voldemort was defeated, would the position still be open to me?" She was not going to accept a job out of pity or fear.
Knowing that answer was going to be in her favor now, McGonagall let out a bright grin. "Absolutely, my dear. Absolutely."
"Then, then of course! I'd love to! What do I have to do? Where do I sign? When do I begin my training?" Hermione's mind was careening forward as she mentally adjusted. With the money from her teaching, and her savings from working at the bookstore, she may never have to touch her parent's nest egg, and it could be invested for the future. Instead of looking into universities, she could look for a small home in Hogsmeade or somewhere by the Burrow so she could have her own place during the summer. She could look for new teacher's robes. Perhaps she should talk to Professor Snape. She did always admire his swish and billow. She needed to get books for Transfiguration and educational theory and application, and set up a schedule, and…
"Hermione?" McGonagall was looking at her rather worriedly. "I seemed to have lost you for a minute. Well, first of all, while in this office, or strictly with staff, I would be pleased for you to call me Minerva. We are now, in a fashion, colleagues. Second, I wish for you to attend the first staff meeting, and I will introduce you to everyone then, and you can talk to them about arraigning a time to meet with them, and perhaps spend a day with their day to day tasks and classes. I will make sure you have a contract by the staff meeting, which will be just a few evenings from now, before classes resume. We can set up our own time throughout the year as it fits us both to review your progress and address any issues that may arise. And you are certain, Hermione, that this is that path you wish to take?"
"I am…Minerva. Completely."
"Good. Then, I am happy to have you aboard, Hermione. And soon, you shall be Professor Granger. Now, off to bed with you. I have taken too much of your time. I will see you again in the morning."
Hermione walked back to her tower - for as she was the only one there, she thought of it as her tower – and felt a small burden lifted. This was as close to feeling joy as she had been since her parents had passed.
She knew without a doubt that they would have been overjoyed at the overture presented to their daughter. As Hermione readied herself for bed, she could picture the happiness of her father's face and the smile and laugh from her mother, with her crazy red hair bobbing to and fro as she gave her daughter a hug.
She missed her family so much sometimes that she felt as though she would never repair and recover, but, for tonight, she was only going to think about the future.