Excerpt from uHealth Issues in the Workplace/u, by Zelda Goron.
One can expect a reasonable amount of privacy in regards to confidential health issues in the workplace. However, if any issues are life-threatening, it would be wise to alert a direct supervisor to the nature of the specific complaint. Forewarned is forearmed when one's life is potentially on the line.
"Are you fucking serious?" Hermione growled at the second pair of tights she'd managed to snag in her pre-interview nervousness. That's what she got for trying to save money and buy Muggle drugstore tights – the cheap nylon wouldn't hold a repair charm for love or money. She hated the idea of using Kreacher to do her shopping, but she really didn't have another choice. She only had a couple of hours until the interview, and the Wizarding world was still old-fashioned enough that she didn't dare show up for a second interview in trousers, no matter how sharp.
A loud 'pop' later and the elf stood before her, wearing an apron over his tea towel and brandishing a spatula. "Miss called Kreacher?"
"I'm really sorry, Kreacher," she apologized, "but I need you to go over to Madam Malkin's for me. I need tights, size medium, in a nude shade. They can charge my Gringotts account, everything is on file there. Get two pair."
"Kreacher is going as soon as Kreacher turns off the stove," he agreed, disappearing as quickly as he'd appeared.
Hermione tossed the ruined pairs of tights into the bin by her bed and sat down in her slip to apply a bit of makeup as she waited. She went for the eyeliner first after she'd applied a tinted moisturizer. Magical eyeliner had to be the best beauty product ever created. No guesswork or steady hands required, just uncap, tap the shape wanted, and let it do its own work. A few minutes later, she was satisfied with the face reflected back from the age-spotted mirror over the antique vanity. A bit of product to keep her short curls from frizzing, and she was as ready as she could be without the tights.
Kreacher returned a moment later, holding out a small bag. "Madam Malkin is saying she is charging Harry Potter's account because Kreacher is Harry Potter's elf," he grumbled. "Kreacher tried to tell her to use Miss Hermione's."
"I'll make sure to pay him back. Thank you, Kreacher."
"Kreacher will go finish Miss Hermione's lunch. And Miss will be eating it!" He scowled, disappearing with a great crack to back up his assertion.
Thankfully, the overly expensive tights from Madam Malkin's had excellent anti-snag charms, and she was finished dressing in a few minutes. The smart black skirt suit had a subtle smoke pinstripe. The high-waisted skirt came just below the knee, and the matching robe ended an inch or two above that. She wore a smoke-grey silk blouse with it, and her jewelry was all cushion-cut smoky quartz – a pendant, bracelet, and earrings. For shoes, she had decided on fashionable, but sensible, low-heeled court pumps. Satisfied with her appearance, she made her way down to the kitchen for Kreacher's promised lunch.
"Something light to settle your stomach is what Kreacher is making," he assured her as he set dishes in front of her – a spinach salad with salmon, small cream cheese and cress sandwiches, and a pot of tea.
"This is perfect, Kreacher," she praised, taking a fork and starting in on the salad.
"Kreacher lives to serve Miss," he mumbled, backing away to do the dishes.
Twenty minutes later, Hermione departed the front stoop of Number 12, Grimmauld Place for Diagon Alley, leaving plenty of time to walk the short distance to the W-Harmony offices from the apparition point outside the Leaky Cauldron. The street was not as busy as it would have been half an hour ago, at the peak of lunchtime, but it was crowded enough that it took effort to make her way through the throng of shoppers near the Leaky. She arrived at the offices ten minutes early, and the same receptionist from the other day showed her to a small, tastefully appointed room with two doors, a comfortable-looking armchair, and a folding screen obscuring half the space.
"The professor will be in shortly, Master Granger," she said with a smile. "Would you like a coffee?"
"A glass of cold water would be perfect, thank you...?"
"Oh – Anna, I'm Anna," the girl replied.
"Anna. Thank you." She settled into the chair, which was indeed very comfortable, organizing her papers as she waited. Anna returned a few moments later with a glass and a carafe full of ice water, and soon after that, she heard the other door open. Blaise peered around the screen with a smile.
"Hi, Hermione. The professor is running a few minutes behind this afternoon. He asked me to review the interview terms with you, do you mind?"
"I will not see the professor, nor hear his actual voice," Hermione recited. "I will not attempt to disturb the screen in any way for any reason. Should I be offered a position, I will be required to sign a dizzying array of non-disclosure documents binding in both the Muggle and Wizarding worlds. If I am not offered a position, I am still under agreement not to disclose the nature of the interview process to any human or magical creature with near-human intelligence. Does that cover it?"
Nodding, Blaise chuckled. "I'll say it does. Should only be a couple more minutes. See you soon, I should hope." With that, he departed, and the little room was silent once again.
"Well?" Snape demanded as Blaise came back into the corridor.
"She's perfectly aware of the terms. Still scary as hell, but that's got to be good for us, right?"
Severus snorted inelegantly. "Did you at least find me a male specimen this time?" he asked, holding the tiny plastic bag with a single hair in it in one hand, a vial of Polyjuice in the other.
"I made sure this time. Followed the bloke into the loo and everything," Blaise muttered.
Apparently that was good enough for Severus, since he put the hair into the potion, wrinkling his nose in distaste as it turned a cheery sunshine yellow. "Eurgh. iA votre santé/i, Zabini."
The potion began working immediately, and Severus watched as his skin bubbled, then turned golden and freckled with a dusting of fine red hairs on his arms. "You're fired," he said conversationally to Blaise, whose only response was to smirk and step aside so Agnes could snap a picture. "Both of you, fired. Out. Why is it always a fucking ginger?"
"Because you always react so sweetly when the transformation is over," Agnes replied, attempting to keep her satisfied grinning to a minimum. "Now go hire the girl. We need her."
'At least this one doesn't have a high, nasally voice like the last one,' Snape consoled himself as he went into the interview room.
Hermione glanced up as she heard the door open, taking a deep, steadying breath as she listened to the professor getting settled on the other side of the screen.
"Master Granger, I presume?" Snape asked.
"Yes, sir. Thank you for offering a second interview. I appreciate the opportunity."
"Enough of that. My hiring manager informs me you've quite the range of talents to bring to the position. Tell me about your Arithmancy apprenticeship. Sophie Germain does not suffer fools, so you must have been quite impressive for her to take you on as a student."
Hermione cleared her throat. "Well, sir, I had offers from two other masters – Septima Vector, whom I studied under at Hogwarts, and Claus Kendig, of the Bohn Wizarding Institute. I chose Mme. Germain precisely because of her reported attitude toward female apprentices. I knew I would have to produce work of an exemplary standard merely to pass. It's nothing against Professors Vector or Kendig. Perhaps if it had not been for the lingering spectre of the War, I might have stayed right at Hogwarts the entire time. However, Mme. Germain specializes in Chronomancy, and has an agreement with a well-known Compumancer, and I knew it would be prudent to develop those skills as well."
Ah, the war; as good an excuse as any for fleeing the UK to study in France. He looked over the selection of biscuits Anna had laid out earlier, selecting a shortbread square with toasted almonds to go with his coffee. "I would say that was quite prudent indeed, Master Granger. I see you are Muggleborn – are you very familiar with Muggle technology?" Snape asked before taking a bite of his biscuit.
"I am a bit behind in the very latest trends, but Master Federi had me using smartphones and tablets with both iOS and Android systems in my last session with him a few months ago. In any case, I'm a quick study and hands-on learning is ideal," she explained.
Ugh, what had been in that biscuit? He felt as if his throat was trying to close off. He coughed, but that only made it worse. He twisted in his chair, reaching for the pull of the call bell, but overreached, tumbling to the floor.
"Sir? Are you well?" Hermione asked, the sounds coming from behind the screen beginning to worry her. What should she do? If she looked over the screen, she'd be risking her job – but it really sounded like the professor was in trouble. Leaping up, she wrenched the door open. "Anna! ANNA!" she called urgently. "The professor is unwell," she explained to the receptionist as she hurried in. "He was coughing – and I think he fell."
Anna blanched, but ducked behind the screen. "Sir? Sir! Oh hell! iAnapneo!/i ." Hermione heard a bell ring and the other door open. "Zabini! Agnes! Anybody! Somebody call St Mungo's and do it now! The boss is down! I thought he was just choking on a biscuit, but it's something else!"
Hermione's mind raced as she tried to light on something that would explain the professor's symptoms. Coughing, trouble breathing, but not choking: anaphylaxis? "Allergies. Anna! Does the professor have allergies?"
"What? No, not that I know of. These biscuits have nuts, but he eats them all the time," she called back.
"Hermione! Is everything okay over there?"
"Fine! Listen! I think your boss has gone into anaphylactic shock. Is he Polyjuiced?"
"Yes – standard interview procedure."
"Great. I'm coming over there. I know some first aid spells that will help until a mediwitch gets here. Get him on his back if you can." She pushed the screen aside, glancing over the tall, slender ginger man on the floor, his eyes wide with panic. "Thanks. Stand back a bit, please." She raised her wand, swooping it in a spiral motion. "iTracheíano!/i"
Immediately, the panic receded from the professor's face and he was no longer struggling to breathe. He attempted to sit up, but she knelt and gently pushed his shoulder back down. "No, stay still for a moment. It looks like your donor had a nut allergy, sir," she explained. "We had a girl in our dorm who had a similar issue – it's not common in the Wizarding world, even among Muggleborns. She taught the entire tower that spell just in case."
"Thank you," he rasped.
"Er. Sorry about breaking the rules. Thank you for the opportunity just the same. I'll stay until a mediwitch comes. All that spell does is stabilize the trachea, it doesn't stop the allergic attack. It's meant to buy time."
"Mungo's is sending a team through the Floo momentarily!" called a familiar-sounding voice. "Oh! Hello, Miss Granger!"
Hermione snapped her head up, looking at the woman who had just come into the room. "Agnes? But that must mean the professor is– "
"Yes, guilty as charged, Granger. You've saved my miserable life. I think I owe you a job based on that alone, as much as it pains me to admit. Come around on Friday for the formalities." He coughed again.
Beaming, Hermione stood to allow the newly arrived mediwizards to do their jobs, explaining the spell she'd used when they asked. After they'd bundled Snape off to the hospital, Agnes made her sit down and drink a cup of strong, sweet tea 'for the shock'. Blaise sat with her, the screen folded out of the way.
"Thanks for that, Hermione. I know he was beastly to your house at school, but he took good care of us Slytherins. He's a good boss, and I promise, he's mellowed considerably these past few years," he explained.
She shook her head, chuckling softly. "I can understand his desire for privacy, but this entire cloak and dagger act is just absurd."
"It is a bit much," Blaise agreed. "I think he might rethink his methods now. Go over to glamours, maybe?"
Hermione took a long drink of her tea, glancing mischievously at Blaise over the rim of her teacup. "You can take the professor away from the potions, but you can't take the potions away from the professor."