Stranger by the Day

Authors: Veruka and Faith Accompli

Disclaimer: All characters are property J.K. Rowling; no © infringement intended or profit made.

Notes: Awhile ago we started a story by the name of Roseblood. We sort of lost the desire to write it, so we scrapped it and reworked it into this. Comments welcome and appreciated, hope you all enjoy. Oh, and the actual de-aging doesn't come until the first actual chapter. The prologue's just to set everything up.

Prologue - A Semblance of Normalcy

Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, stood in the centre of the staff room amidst a sea of mismatched furniture, his arms raised to call for silence, a noble king seeing over his complacent, organised court of unruffled, jovial professors.

"What a monstrous load of crap!" Professor Sinistra's voice somehow managed to rise above the bedlam, and for a moment, Dumbledore wondered if she'd read his thoughts. A jovial court, the faculty was not -- nor were they ever at the mandatory weekly staff meetings. Shove them all in a room together, and their great minds were reduced to those of adolescents', squabbling, backbiting, and generally acting like a bunch of teenagers who'd gotten into the plaid crack.

"Iz it...iz it always like zis?" asked the slender blonde woman at Dumbledore's side, a somewhat fearful look on her pretty face. The aging wizard glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and gave her an encouraging smile.

"Oh, no--" he said, and the woman deflated some in relief until he added, "--usually it's chaotic. Don't worry, my dear -- you'll get used to it. Eventually. Maybe." He cleared his throat, and the volume of the sound that came from it next, a battered-looking old man should not have been able to make. "Everyone, if I may have your attention!" The staff remained unfazed and continued about their bickerings.

Professor Snape was seated in a high-backed chair near the fireplace, glowering at the goings on until a look of panic crossed his face as Professor Trelawney took the seat adjacent to his and squinted one of her enormous eyes in a wink. He quickly moved to the only other available chair, which happened to be located next to Sirius Black (who had been cleared over the summer and was now employed at Hogwarts as the new Muggle Studies professor to better keep an eye on his godson), who in turn vacated his seat and gestured slyly to Trelawney to take it. The round of musical chairs ended when Sinistra caught sight of her fellow Slytherin in mortal peril and slid into Black's chair just before the Divination professor could flutter over. Snape gave her a look of sheer gratitude, while Black scowled and slumped down into the Potions master's old seat, across from which Trelawney remained.

Dumbledore tried again-- "Will you people kindly SHUT UP!" --and was a bit more successful this time. Fifteen-odd heads snapped to attention, and the woman beside him rubbed her ears. "Thank you," he continued, now pleasant as ever. "Now, as you are all well aware, tomorrow is the first of September, the beginning of a new school year--"

"And another rung down on the ladder to hell," Professor Vector muttered to Madam Hooch, who sniggered quietly until the headmaster gave them both a Look.

"Ahem. Of course, you will remember Miss Fleur Delacour, the Beauxbatons representative in the TriWizard Tournament last year. I am pleased to say that she has agreed to join our staff as our new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor."

The blonde woman next to Dumbledore smiled brilliantly, stepped forward, and gave a small bow, immediately slipping into the facet of one who can't get enough of being in the spotlight. There were a few glazed blinks in response, three outright glares, and an "I give her six months, tops," from a jaded Madam Pomfrey (you could practically see the eyes around her light up Galleon-gold, the first betting pool of the year having been inadvertently set in motion). Fleur tittered nervously and returned to her hiding place very near to the headmaster.

"Now, now, Poppy. All of the others have last at least a year, and I have every confidence that Professor Delacour will be able to do the same."

Pomfrey raised an eyebrow. "Five Galleons on ten months for you, then?"

"...yes." Fleur's eyes widened, and Dumbledore added before she could protest, "Filius, if you would be good enough to read the minutes of last year's final staff meeting?"

Professor Flitwick cleared his throat and stood professionally atop the six cushions on his chair. "Seven o'"

Professor McGonagall gave a short snort, and Snape rolled his eyes. Dumbledore nodded and smiled kindly.

"Thank you, Filius, that is all. Any comments?"

Fleur's expression of confusion deepened, and her mouth kept opening and closing as though she desperately wanted to say something, but couldn't find the words.

"I have a comment," Vector spoke up. "I dinnae think it was wise to employ a professor -- and I use the word lightly -- that incessantly tries to transfigure herself into a fish."

At last, the French girl found her voice. "I beg your pardon!"

"All right. You're pardoned -- you can leave now."

"Victoria..." Dumbledore reprimanded, narrowing his eyes at the Arithmancy professor. "I hardly think that's appropriate."

Vector just shrugged. "She asked, did she not?"

"I have a comment, Albus," McGonagall cut in, and shot a disapproving frown at Vector. "A _serious_ one."

Black's head jerked up, and he blinked his eyes blearily, a victim of Trelawney's drowsiness-inducing perfume. "What? M'awake -- I wasn' sleepin'!"

"Not you," McGonagall snapped irately. "I for one am somewhat concerned about the security charms currently in place around the castle. With all that happened last year, and You-Know--" Dumbledore let out a small sigh. "--all right, _Voldemort's_ return...I think it's best we reinforce them more often -- better safe than sorry."

'Finally,' the headmaster thought to himself, 'blessed relevance.' "An excellent point, Minerva -- one that I was just about to bring up myself. I want you all to work together with your respective housemates, come up with every conceivable way around the wards placed on Hogwarts. We have the technology, and I want you all thinking about how to rebuild them, how to make them better, stronger, faster--" He broke off there to chuckle to himself, but as no one else seemed to get the joke, that ended quite quickly. "Meet with members of other houses every so often and discuss ways to blend your ideas. Inform me when you feel you have discovered anything of even the most mild of importance. Until then, I want you all to relax, enjoy what little of the last summer holiday is left, and prepare for the students' return. That is all. Meeting adjourned."

Quiet tossed unabashedly aside once more, the teachers all rose and headed for the door, gladly abandoning their superior and--

"That little French tart," Sinistra muttered as she fell into step between Vector and Hooch. "She's what, nineteen? Dumbledore's really scraping at the bottom of the barrel this year."

"I think the Veela in her got to him," Vector sighed. "Men."

"She doesn't seem _that_ bad," said Black, who'd been following behind them through no personal choice of his own (hey, the loo was in the same direction as they were headed). The three females rounded on him like a pack of vultures who'd just spotted choice carrion, and he was suddenly gripped by the desire to go into dog form and run very, very far away with his tail tucked between his legs. "Well..." he gulped, "...she doesn't. She might turn out to be a decent professor."

"It doesn't matter how decent a professor she is," said Hooch, folding her arms over her chest.

"She's younger and prettier than us," agreed Sinistra, "which makes her evil."

Beside her, Vector nodded. "We hate her."

"But isn't that...sort of...petty?" Black asked. He had a hunch he'd feel oodles more comfortable were the three women Dementors instead of witches -- Dementors could suck out a man's soul, yes, but witches? They could rid his body of far more than that if they were in the mood...

"Yes, very. Your point?"

"You always did have a way with females, Black," came a new voice from behind the new Muggle Studies professor, dripping with sarcasm. "Tell me, did you desperately miss the sting of a slap to the face during your incarceration? Or did the Dementors indulge you that much?"

"Ah, Snape," said Black, immediately slipping into verbal-combat mode, complete with camouflage robes (which he then realised were a bit dramatic and returned them to their previous dark red with a wave of his wand). "I see you, too, have grown to miss the crunch of cartilage from my fist to your nose these past fourteen years. Come to think of it, your enormous beak _does_ seem larger than it used to, if at all possible -- did you splash on a little swelling solution this morning to make the target easier for me to hit?"

"Ooooh," Hooch whistled under her breath and took a handful from the bag of popcorn Vector had conjured the second Snape had stepped into the conversation. "Three Galleons says they kill each other by the end of the year." Sinistra marked the Quidditch referee's bet down on a piece of parchment she'd retrieved from the pocket of her robes.

"Vic? Care to make a wager?"

Vector narrowed her eyes at the two bickering men indecisively. "What are the odds?"

"Ten to one, they kill each other; five to one, Snape poisons Black; one million to one, they call a truce and become best mates--"

"Not steep enough!" both men shouted at her in unison, then scowled at each other and wasted no time in returning to their snipe-fest.

"All right, TEN million to one. Fussy bastards. Anyway -- five to one, Black turns Snape into some sort of embarrassing animal, vegetable, or mineral--"

"Ooh, I like that one. Five Galleons says Snape's a stick of celery at some point in the year."

"Right, then." Black gave Vector a quick thumbs-up, and Sinistra scribbled the information down, shot one last look at the display of rampant testosterone, and nodded to the other women. "I think they've hit their plateau. Shall we?" Two nods in the affirmative, and the three headed once more down the hall, managing to get out-of-range before the curses started flying. Out of the corner of her eye, Sinistra saw Dumbledore come bounding out of the staff room, waving his arms and shouting reprimands, the French girl still at his side -- though quickly knocked on her ass by a rogue Confundus Charm. "Point Severus," Sinistra smiled to herself, and started up one the staircase that would lead her up to the Astronomy Tower.


"Barrington, Edwina!"

A small girl with dark hair pulled into a high ponytail walked tentatively up to the front of the Great Hall and sat down on the stool. McGonagall gingerly placed the Sorting Hat on her head, and after a moment--

"RAVENCLAW!" the hat screamed, and the Ravenclaw table burst into cheers and applause as Edwina happily ran over. The students, all caught up in the Sorting, didn't noticed the majority of disgruntled faces at the High Table as all the professors who were not former Ravenclaws shelled out a Galleon each to those who were (the annual betting pool of Who's House Will Get the First Student of the Year).

"Blasted hat," Snape muttered, his scowl only slightly appeased when a Dollanganger, Sophie, a small girl with a seemingly innocent doll-like face, was made the first new Slytherin.

"Frankenstein, Erich!"


"Oi," Sinistra hissed at him and elbowed him in the ribs. Snape glowered at her, affronted. He had known the woman most of her life -- she'd been a first year at Hogwarts when he'd been a seventh, and before that, he'd been friends with her elder brother Cassius, Hades bless his soul -- and he was pretty much convinced that she hadn't matured emotionally since she'd turned fifteen. Oh, she could be uppity as hell when she wanted to be, there was no denying that, but as for the rest of her personality...ehn.

"What?" he snapped irately, just as McGonagall called out for Golumbeck, Anastasya.

"Us -- tomorrow evening -- staff room. To talk over the security precautions Dumbledore was on about yesterday. What say?"

"Must we--"


"--discuss this now?"

"If not us, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?"

"Jamison, Guinevere!"

"If not quiet, smack."


Sinistra smirked at him, but said nothing more as the Sorting went on with Keown, Siobhan, the first new Gryffindor, followed by MacPherson, Gwyneth, the first Hufflepuff of the year, all the way down the line until Wembley, Robert was also put into Hufflepuff. Dumbledore gave his opening speech ("Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"), introduced Fleur, and the feast officially began.

"So," said the headmaster, turning to his new French employee, "Miss Delacour, how have your lesson plans been coming along?"

"Well, I think ze students will find zem interesting. I plan to start ze year off with ze study of glamours."

"Glamours?" asked McGonagall. "In Defence Against the Dark Arts?"

"Oui. You would be surprised how a little...ahem..._enhanced_ physical characteristics can distract an enemy. It iz why, in ze two wars Veelas have fought in, we have won. After zat, I thought I might start ze students on protective and defensive chantwork."

"Very good," said Dumbledore, "very good indeed."

"You _do_ realise you will have to weave a thorough Silencing Charm around your room if you are planning on teaching chantwork," McGonagall cut in, looking as though she was _dying_ to scold the girl for her mere presence at the school.

"Oh, of course. It should be no problem," Fleur shrugged, smiling sweetly (albeit arrogantly). McGonagall scowled and began to viciously dissect a green bean on her plate. Next to her, Hagrid grinned proudly.

"Olympe's schooled her well, Professor Dumbledore," he beamed. "No doubt 'bout that."

"Bollocks," grumbled Vector, who was seated on the headmaster's other side between Flitwick and Black, under her breath. The Charms professor coughed a small giggle into his hand, and Sirius wryly rolled his eyes, wondering if the professors had been this bad we he'd been a student. He found a distraction in Harry, who was smiling at him from the Gryffindor table. He waved and motioned to Vector, silently impersonating a huffy nagging woman, and then wincing and rubbing his shoulder when she caught him at it and gave him a mighty punch in the arm. His godson snorted with laughter and shook his head.

"Pillock," Harry muttered good-naturedly.

"Whassa'?" Ron asked around a mouthful of spaghetti.

"Nothing. Just Sirius. I think he's still learning that insulting a woman while not being at least a good five kilometers away while doing so isn't the smartest thing in the world."

"Ehn," mumbled Ron after taking a swallow of pumpkin juice. "He's just out of practice."

"Is that all you can think about?" Hermione glared at them. "We've been back at school for barely two hours and all you've done is horn in on people's love lives."

Ron shook his head. "_Sex_ lives, Hermione. Girls think about all that love crap, not boys."

"And besides," Harry put in, "those who can, do. Those who can't glower bitterly and make remarks."

"Is that all you're going to be talking about this year, sex?" she asked scathingly. "Honestly, you're only fifteen."

"That's precisely the point, Hermione. We're fifteen -- _everything_ reminds us of sex."

"Even Professor McGonagall?"

"Well, if the lighting's low and she lets her hair down..."

Hermione sighed, rolling her eyes haughtily. "Boys," she scoffed. "You two shouldn't be mocking Sirius, you should be looking to him for an example -- _he's_ not some immature hormonal teenager."

Had Hermione any idea of what was about to happen, perhaps she'd have done as Snape so often ordered her to and held her tongue. As it was, she reveled in her emotional superiority and ate her dinner amidst the other unsuspecting souls in the Great Hall.