Hermione Granger stepped out and into the morning sunshine, she was headed to her new job this morning.
This just so happened to involve a trip to Kings cross and catching the Hogwarts express.
Hermione had been hired by Minerva McGonagall to replace Madam Prince as the new librarian.
Hermione had jumped on the offer right after it had left the new Headmistress's mouth.
Now she was about to move back to the castle she so loved.
All new staff members were required to stay the summer before their first term to acclimate themselves with the castle and grounds; because Hermione knew the castle better than some of the more senior staff members her summer stay was made optional; but Hermione had missed Hogwarts so much that she couldn't have turned down a summer there even is she had anything to keep her here.
Hermione's life wasn't going as well as she'd initially planned, she had tried dating some and had found a couple hopefuls but none of them worked out, and then there was Ronald.
The man was infuriating! Hermione had finally come around to the idea of a life with him and he leaves her to pursue his career in Quiditch.
Hermione had pleaded for hours with him, trying to convince him that she was more important, but it did no good he was gone within the week and Hermione was still feeling the sting of his abandonment now, two years later.
She crossed the busy street and entered the train station. Hermione was so glad that the Hogwarts express ran once a month in the summer, she really didn't feel up to apparating such a long distance.
So instead she was boarding the train that had brought her into this strange and wonderful world nine years ago.
Hermione boarded the train and took a seat near the back of the train; there seemed to be very few passengers boarding alongside Hermione.
She had expected this though because it was after all the summer and not many people took the train if they didn't have to.
Hermione was loving it though the soft hustle and bustle of the carriage on the tracks, and the rolling green hills flying past her window.
This coupled with a sapphire sky so full of clouds that blue and white were seamless. Her mind's wandering was cut short by the opening of her compartment door.
"Oh, Hello Kingsley!" Hermione flashed a dazzling smile at the older wizard and offered him a seat across from her. "Why are you going to Hogwarts, Minister?" Hermione said the last part with a soft laugh, Kingsley smiled and shook his head at the title.
"Well, my dear Miss Granger I am going to Hogwarts to discuss a rather sensitive topic with the Headmistress," His face grew serious as he spoke.
Hermione noticed new worry lines in his face and a few grey hairs at his temple.
His new job had not been kind to him.
"What topic would that be Kingsley?" The conversation had taken a serious turn and Hermione wasn't sure she liked it.
"Severus Snape," Hermione almost reeled from the shock of hearing her former Professor's name after so long.
"Isn't he still in Azkaban?" Hermione managed to squeak out.
"Yes, for the time being he is," Kingsley looked down at his large hands as they twisted themselves into knots, Hermione watched his hands too seeing his inner conflict to tell her played out between his two hands, eventually the right won and Kingsley took a deep breath.
"Snape was found guilty by the Wizanagamont before I had been elected Minster," he looked at Hermione and she nodded her head to show that she was already aware of that fact. "The problem I now face is that his trial, if you could even call it that, was to say the least a little unfair," Hermione sat stalk still as she listened to his deep voice.
"Now Snape is facing execution to make room in the prison for more inmates." Hermione couldn't help but stifle a gasp and then to blurt out, "But, I thought the Ministry had done away with executions! The worst punishment the Ministry could give out was the dementor's kiss?" Kingsley looked at her and sighed.
"Yes, until the second defeat of the Dark Lord, that was true; but since then executing prisoners is a normal thing in Azkaban." Kingsley looked up and saw Hermione's disgusted face and rushed out.
"Also another Wizanagamont ruling there, I've been trying to fight it, and them, for the past two years now; and have gotten next to nowhere." Kingsley groaned defeated. Hermione sat silent and let Kingsley collect himself.
"Now though I have a new plan to try to thwart some of their rulings and punishments." Kingsley then looked up and Hermione nodded her head to show she understood.
"Yes, so anyway, how have you been Hermione?" Kingsley effectively stopped Hermione's questions before they'd even started with that one simple question.
So, Hermione then spent the remainder of the trip giving Kingsley useless details about her life and tactfully avoiding the subject of Ronald.
Finally the train pulled into the station, Hermione and Kingsley went their separate ways, Kingsley having some other business to attend to in the village and Hermione wanting to go to the castle and settle in.
Hermione reached the gates and stood in front of the tall wrought iron structure and let her mind wander. She'd missed this place so much but this place also held many dark memories.
Hermione hadn't been back since the final battle and although everything was fixed and clean Hermione could still see the ghosts of carnage out of the corner of her eyes.
So as Hermione walked she kept her head down and focused on pulling her cart along. Hermione had most of the stones of the pathway counted by the time she made it to the front doors.
When they creaked open to reveal the oh so familiar entry way Hermione almost cried, she eventually calmed down and moved go see the Headmistress.
The gargoyle leapt aside for her without the slightest hesitation and Hermione climbed the slowly creeping stairs. Hermione didn't even need to knock, right as she'd reached the top landing the door to McGonagall's office swung open.
"Oh, Miss Granger its you," McGonagall seemed to deflate a little as if seeing Hermione wasn't what she'd been expecting. Hermione didn't want to be rude but she was still curious about what Kingsley had talked to her about and maybe Hermione could get some more information this way.
"Professor, were you expecting someone else?" McGonagall pointed to a couple of chairs set up in the corner of the room with a tea set and tray of cookies near them.
"Please Miss Granger call me Minerva, I am no longer your teacher." Hermione walked over to the table and chairs and sat down in an over stuffed armchair.
"Well, then you should probably call me Hermione then?" McGonagall laughed and nodded her head as she came to sit across from Hermione.
"Yes, I suppose I should, now my dear did you happen to see Kingsley on the train with you?" McGonagall began to pour tea into dainty white cups.
"I did, we actually talked for a while about recent happenings at the Ministry," Hermione noticed that McGonagall's hands shook slightly when she mentioned the Ministry.
"So, you know about Severus?" McGonagall had looked down and stopped pouring the tea.
Hermione hadn't been sure about McGonagall's loyalty in this situation. Hermione herself was still on the fence about the man's intentions.
Most of the Order still fervently believed that Snape was a traitorous lying bastard who deserved to die among other awful things, then there were the few like Hermione who didn't know what to think and then there was Harry and apparently McGonagall who were willing to fight to the death to defend the man.
"Yes, Kingsley told me," Hermione kept the statement neutral and McGonagall noticed she was like Harry in their ability to read her, it was truly scary.
"You still don't know what to think of him do you?" McGonagall's question didn't quite sound like an accusation then again it didn't entirely not sound like one.
"No, I don't honestly, and I'm not sure I ever will." McGonagall nodded her head and sighed.
"Well, I'm not sure that Kingsley would like me to tell you about his plans but I'm going to anyway."
Hermione felt a bubble of anticipation grow in her chest. "I trust this will all stay in this room," McGonagall said it as though it was a mandatory phrase and not a required request. Hermione of course nodded her head.
"Good, apparently Kingsley has found a way to get prisoners out of Azkaban without killing them," McGonagall looked at Hermione to be sure she was following. "There is a clause that allows prisoners deemed fit for rehabilitation by the current Minister to be released to their family." McGonagall had stopped pretending to try to make tea and was sitting stalk still as she spoke.
"The only problem is that Severus is scheduled to die in two weeks and he has no living relatives." Hermione nodded, and tried to follow where Minerva was going with all this.
"The only way we'd be able to save him is if someone would be willing to take complete legal responsibility for him," Hermione nodded again and waited for McGonagall to continue, when she didn't Hermione finally spoke up,
"Well, wouldn't that be easy. You or Kingsley could vouch for him," McGonagall's face showed that such a thing was far from easy.
"I can not take responsibility for him because of my status as headmistress, and Kingsley can't because he is minister; I've already asked Harry and he said that he could do it if he must but his job as head of the Auror department may come into jeopardy." Hermione finally saw where all this was going, she also understood why she was the youngest staff member since the man behind all this legal chaos.
"Thats why you hired me then?" McGonagall at least had the decency to look ashamed.
"It isn't that you aren't qualified or that I wouldn't have hired you anyway but, you don't have a family right now and you had shown interest in returning to the school, not to mention your incomparable intelligence."
She was trying to compliment Hermione now to cover the sting from her earlier comment.
Hermione really didn't need a reminder of her single and lonely status right now, so Hermione stood up calmly and walked out of McGonagall's office, then broke into a run and didn't stop until she'd reached the astronomy tower.
Of all the places for Hermione to go the scene of Dumbledore's murder had to have been the worst choice, she sat up there and thought of everyone she'd lost to death and then thought of Ron whom she'd lost because she'd waited too long to marry him and he'd gotten bored with her.
The thoughts circled each other and then eventually moved to include the great enigma that is Severus Snape into the Mix.
Hermione always liked to give the benefit of the doubt but Hermione had always defended Professor Snape and he'd betrayed her, betrayed them all.
Hermione didn't know how to handle being wrong, which probably explained why Hermione harbored the small hope that Professor Snape was innocent.
Now she didn't know what to do though.
She didn't want Snape to die; no matter how betrayed she felt she couldn't condone killing someone.
If she could choose the option that just left him in prison for the rest of his life thats the one she'd have chosen right now unfortunately she didn't get that option; it was all or nothing.
Hermione sighed and stood up stretching her aching muscles.
After another second to make sure she knew what she was doing, Hermione was off back towards the Headmistress's office.
"I'll do it," McGonagall, had thought she'd misheard Hermione when she'd opened her door and found her standing there.
"Do what dear?" McGonagall's brow furrowed. Hermione couldn't quite muster a polite smile to lessen her bad mood, but she at least tried to look less upset when she spoke.
"I'll take legal responsibility of Professor Snape," McGonagall couldn't believe her ears when she heard Hermione speak, eventually it sunk in and she was about to thank her, but she was already gone.