A/N A Challenge from Aerobabe.
Chapter 1. Return to Hogwarts
Hermione walked the path heading to the castle of Hogwarts deep in thought. It had been five years since the Final Battle and she never looked back. Why had she been called here?
She stopped just before the entrance and eyed the wizard dressed in the dark robes that she remembered from long ago.
"Professor Snape." Greeting the wizard with a slight smile.
"Mistress Granger." He replied in a cold voice and indicated that she should follow him.
She followed him through the empty halls of the school and past the gargoyles guarding the Headmaster's office. He had not changed much throughout the years.
Professor Snape opened the door and allowed Hermione to enter before him. "Mistress Granger Headmaster." He announced and sat down in a chair at the back of the room.
"Hermione so lovely to see you again. Your advancements in the subtle art of Potions is extraordinary and the reason why I have called you here." Headmaster Dumbledore greeted her, his blue eyes twinkling.
Oh shit! He wanted her to teach potions. Her mind scrambled, thinking of excuses not to accept.
"So predictable after all these years Mistress Granger. " A silky voice called out. "She is thinking of excuses not to teach at this illustrious school Headmaster." Severus continued in a disdainful voice. "I told you that I can complete what you request."
"You have Severus and your efforts have been unsuccessful to date. I'm afraid we need a fresh insight into the problem. You know the stakes in this." Albus replied back, trying to placate the dark wizard.
Severus shot out of his chair and stood up. "My vow was complete with the death of Voldemort!" He snarled out. "I do the research because you requested it Albus and I owe you. It has been researched for centuries with none being successful. I warned you and set the proper expectation before I started this endeavor."
"You did Severus, but you have to admit that she will bring a fresh perspective. You know her achievements Severus."
""She" is still here and does not like being referred to in third person." Raising her voice and watched both wizards turn their attention to her.
"Hermione, my apologies as the situation is urgent." Albus humbly replied back.
"If she accepts then she will acknowledge me as the lead with no questions asked." Severus snarled out and left the office, slamming the door behind him.
Albus chuckled. "That went as well as to be expected. He'll come around."
"You have me here Headmaster and I have never forgiven you for hiding the fact that you were not dead and forced Harry, Ron, and I into our forced isolation and picking up the clues that you left to defeat Voldemort. You could have guided us." She admonished.
"Hermione…" Albus began.
She held out her hand. "I do not want to hear your reasoning as that is in the past. I am no longer the innocent teenager and will not be bowed to your will by sweet word. What I wonder is why am I here if Professor Snape has been unable to complete what you requested of him. He is one of the foremost Potions Masters in the Wizarding world and cannot solve what you requested of him. What makes you think that I can help?"
"You heard of the death of Ronald Weasley?"
The Headmaster's question threw her off track. "I did and it was reported that he died in his sleep by a failed heart. I went to the funeral after all." Noticing the sad look of her ex-Headmaster.
"It was a closed casket was it not?" Albus asked.
"It was and I wondered about that. But I thought that it was the wish of Arthur and Molly." Her quick mind put the unsaid into the forefront. "There was a cover-up?" She shrilled out. "The person responsible should have been given the Kiss and justice served!" Poor Ron she thought.
"I called in all of my markers in the Ministry to protect him. If he kills again then it will be Azkaban and the Kiss. Hermione you are our only hope." He pleaded.
"Why should I save this murderer Albus?" She stood up. "I will take my leave Headmaster. I will not work to save the one responsible for my friend's death."
A blonde haired wizard burst forth from a side door. "Don't go before the Headmaster explains!" He pleaded.
"Draco Malfoy!" Hermione hissed out. "Even more reason to leave. Headmaster…" Standing from her chair and walked to the door.
"Stay Hermione and listen to me!" A familiar voice from long ago shouted out.
Hermione paused, hand on the door handle when she heard the voice and turned around and saw Harry Potter standing in the doorway. She had not seen him in five years and he looked worse for wear.
A heavy silence descended upon the room.
Hermione strode up to Harry pushing her finger into his chest, her voice shrill. "Harry Potter here after five years? Five years of ignored owls and I know you kept in contact with Ron. All he would tell me is you are fine…" Her voice faded. Professor Snapes's failure at something that had been researched for centuries. Albus calling in all of his markers at the Ministry. It wasn't about Draco but Harry.
"Oh Harry! What have you gotten yourself into?" Drawing him into her arms and held him.
"I'm sorry for hiding everything from you. And Ron hid it because I begged him to and it was wrong Hermione."
Hermione watched Harry take Draco's hand and kissed it. "Draco begged me to involve you and I ignored him. I should have listened to Draco. I would not find myself here and not have killed Ron."
Draco kissed Harry's hand. "Granger can help us Harry. I told you that she could."
Malfoy giving a compliment to her? Did Harry just say that he killed Ron?
"You and Draco are a couple Harry? I can't believe it!" Disbelief in her voice. "I have not forgiven you Harry and your story better be good. We were thick as thieves and we destroyed Voldemort together. Why did you hide yourself away from me Harry?"
Harry sighed. "How could I tell my best friend that I am a werewolf and that I recently killed our best friend? An accident Hermione but I was responsible."
Hermione saw the pain in her friend's green eyes. "Tell me your story Harry. I'm not promising anything."
"Fair enough Hermione." Harry replied. "It started during the Final battle. When I left you and Ron and went to the forest to seek out Voldemort on my own and Fenir Greyback found me. I fought and killed him but not before he bit me. I tended the wound best I could and finished what I needed to do." Harry raised his shirt and revealed the red scar of bite marks on his lower right side.
"At the celebration one month later Draco approached me. He told me how he felt. Hermione I denied the pull and after all of the death and destruction I pursued it. I told Ginny later and she understood." He looked to her in shame.
"Harry I'm not judging you. It's hard not to see Draco Malfoy for the bastard that he is and used his influence to avoid get what he deserved."
Draco shrugged. "I went to trial Granger and Harry testified at my reluctance to kill the Headmaster. I remind you that my Godfather and Dumbledore planned the deception. It was Harry's testimony that allowed me to avoid the Kiss and not my money and influence."
Harry continued. "We became a couple and Draco and his mother built a strong cage in the bowels of Malfoy Manor and I would go there to transform. All went well for years and Ron sat outside of my cage. He calmed me Hermione when I was transformed into the beast that I became. His words soothed me. I suppose it was like my father and Remus Lupin. But he could not transform into an Animangus, so he sat outside my cage and held vigil. His words helped me so much Hermione in my form. Then I broke from my cage and I killed him."
Harry sobbed out. "Ron always locked himself in outside of the cage and I got loose Hermione. After I killed him I went out and killed so many in the village. Thank Merlin that I did not just bite them and curse them into what I had become. The Aurours caught me and bound me up at sunrise."
"And that is where I come in Hermione." Albus spoke. "I told you I called in all of my markers. Despite my intervention, Harry is person non grata. He was relieved of his duties as an Aurour. The Ministry was not willing to remember his sacrifice. You know of the bias against werewolves in our world."
"After I killed Ron I went to Professor Snape and asked for a poison to take my life. Bastard that he is denied me and actually laughed, telling me that I should deal with my lot in life just as he has."
"I'm thankful for that love." Draco called out.
She looked to her friend. "Do you love him Harry?"
Harry held Draco's hand. "With all that I am Hermione."
Hermione thought for a moment. "I will help you Harry. But Gods help me! You realize that Professor Snape hates me?"
Draco looked to her. "He may hate you, but he respects you."
Hermione went back to the door and looked to Harry. "I hope that he can move beyond that. I will try to help him cure you Harry. I promise you nothing Harry. So many has failed before."
"It is all that I can hope for Hermione." Harry whispered out. "If not I ask you this Potions Mistress Hermione Granger. Brew me a poison and allow me to take my life."
"I will if I need to Harry. But let's see how things go before you plan your death." She replied
Hermione made her way down to the dungeons to address her new colleague. The wizard had baggage and hoped that he would rise beyond it.
She found herself at the entrance to his quarters and watched the door open. "Misstress Granger I see that you have decided to rush into the unknown. Welcome to my chambers"
Hermione walked into his chambers and eyed the wizard. "I hope that you will forget my articles Professor Snape. We have to focus."
He looked to her. "It is one thing to joust with words in publications Mistress Granger but you are in my domain now." He snarled out.