Disclaimer: JKR owns these characters. I just muck up their lives more than usual.

Prologue

Hermione entered the Head's office and looked around it. Her gaze finally lit upon the visage of Minerva McGonagall smiling at her.

"Welcome to your office!" Minerva exclaimed cheerily.

Hermione gave her a small smile. "It's not truly mine until after tomorrow morning when you leave for your exciting trip around the world."

Minerva grinned also. "Yes, I've been looking forward to that for years. Merlin, it's taken that long to plan!"

Hermione gave her a wistful look. "I do envy you, traveling the globe to research with the most preeminent Transfiguration masters of our time. What a wonderful thing to do in your retirement years."

Minerva frowned then. "I don't really want to think of it as retirement, Hermione. That makes me sound so old and used up. It's more of a change of occupation."

Hermione nodded. "Yes, you're definitely not old or used up. It's a perfect thing for you really. You'll keep active in mind, body, and spirit with your travels. Think of all the people you'll meet," Hermione mused.

"Are you ready to take over, my dear?" Minerva asked kindly.

Hermione nodded again. "Yes. Well, as ready as I'll ever be. I want to thank you for recommending me as the new Headmistress. It's a wonderful opportunity."

Minerva chuckled. "I was afraid you would turn down the offer."

Hermione gave Minerva an odd look. "Why would you ever think that?"

Minerva waved her hand dismissively. "You have quite the reputation at the Ministry. I thought perhaps you enjoyed that job too much to even consider this position."

"Oh, no, not at all. I did enjoy my position with Magical Law Enforcement, but your offer was very timely. It's time for a change for me, and this is just the right position."

"Are Harry and Ron happy for you?"

She nodded. "To tell you the truth, with Harry's retirement from the Ministry a few months ago, I haven't heard from him much." She leaned forward and continued in a conspiratorial tone, "but it will be nice to get away from them for a bit. Don't get me wrong, I love them dearly, but for years they have both been playing matchmaker with me. It's quite frustrating. With the distance between us, I'm hoping they can go back to just being supportive friends and not meddlesome cupids."

"Hermione, they just want to see you happy."

Hermione gave a wan smile. "I am happy, though. They can't seem to understand that. Yes, it would be nice to have someone special in my life, but I'm certainly not crying in the corner because I'm not in a relationship right now."

"And it's not like you haven't had relationships, too," Minerva agreed with a nod. "Whatever happened to that nice boy you were dating... Paul Sterling?"

Hermione looked off wistfully. "He seemed perfect for a while, but it just wasn't right. He was brilliant—which I loved, but passionless—which was incredibly frustrating." She looked back at Minerva. "I know Harry and Ron have my best interests at heart, but whenever they tell me that I'm not getting any younger I just want to hex their noses off!"

Minerva snorted. "Oh, Hermione, you're only thirty-eight! That's almost a child by wizarding standards." Smiling sagely, Minerva continued. "Yes, it's hard to find all the right qualities in a man, but when you do find that someone, it will have definitely been worth the wait. When that time comes, hold on to that man for dear life."

Hermione smiled. "I will, if I ever find him."

"Positive thoughts, my dear, positive thoughts."


Original Prompt by angel_mischa: 1) Snape doesn't live. Hermione seeks out a magical-portrait-painter talented enough do a work from photographs that can hang in her (the Headmistress') office. Will the magic work? Will Snape be as he was in life? Possible consequences of the unorthodox method? (Could be funny or angsty...)