Here it is, proof that once I get a story idea in my head I really can't ignore it until I get it put on the page... and more proof that I really have no attention span whatsoever. I will be updating my other stories soon, but I just couldn't resist putting up the first few chapters of this one. It is set during the books, and is basically based on my favorite little daydream. I'm not a college student, I'm a housewife... but I used to be a college student. Does that count? Anyway, I hope you like it. Please forgive any mistakes, as I do not use a beta reader but try to edit everything myself because I'm stubborn. Leave me comments please, as I'd love to hear what you think!

Edited to add: I wanted to let you folks know that as this story progresses it's going to be a lot spicier than my usual style. There will be lemons! You've been warned! ;-) Since I'm new at that sort of thing, any input and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. It may be painful for me until I get used to it, but I want this story to earn its M rating (within reason LOL).

Terese Jones leaned back in her library chair and closed her eyes. She was supposed to be doing research for her psychology paper, but she'd stayed up half the night reading fanfiction again, and as a consequence, she was completely exhausted.

She liked college, even if it was just her local community campus, rather than the big university she had always imagined. There was an independence that high school had lacked… but sadly, much of that was lost on her now, as she had been out of high school for seven years. Ah well, better late then never, and at least if she managed to graduate it would mean she probably wouldn't have to wait tables for the rest of her life.

Her grades were good, and she liked her classes. Some she liked more than others. World History was a favorite, along with British Literature, Psychology, and Sociology. She had tested into remedial math, which had irked her, even though it wasn't really a surprise. Math had been her enemy for as long as she could remember. Next semester she thought she'd like to take Spanish, as what she had managed to retain from high school was now rather rusty.

Her Sociology teacher was her favorite. He was in his mid-thirties, with dark hair and sharp eyes. He was very clever, and quick-thinking, which she liked. He was passionate about his subject, and had a snarky wit. He wasn't afraid to tell someone if he thought they were an idiot. Terese valued such brutal honesty. This was the sort of Professor who made her want to succeed. Inspired, she had a nearly perfect grade in his class.

All because he reminds me of Professor Snape, she thought to herself, smiling, her eyes still closed.

Terese was a self-professed "nerd" and she didn't really care who knew it. Luckily, most people in her life thought it was cute, so she didn't take much ribbing for doing things like wearing a Slytherin t-shirt to class, or having "Severus" tattooed onto her foot. Her mother wasn't terribly amused, but since she'd moved into her own apartment, she mostly kept her feelings to herself.

Terese had become enamored with many different stories in her life, and she still valued each and every one. Her latest obsession however, was by the far the most consuming, and it showed no signs of fading from her mind.

She had come to be a fan of "Harry Potter" much later than most. In her early teenage years when the books were being released and some of her friends were interested, she had been intrigued, but not enough to actually go and get any of the books to start them. Now, looking back, she couldn't exactly remember why.

When they had started making movies, she had seen them all, and thought they were quite a bit of fun. It was a lovely story, and the acting was, in her opinion, superb.

A bit over two years ago, out of curiosity, she had decided that she wanted to know how it all ended, and didn't want to wait for the release of the final film. She'd checked the last book out of the library, and spent a whole day immersing herself as fully as possible in the Wizarding world.

It had been enough. She was hooked, and the mysterious and grumpy Potions Master was her very favorite part of the whole thing. His attitude, and all that he had endured in his lonely, tormented, and unfortunately cut-short life, made her feel terribly sorry for him. She suspected that if he were real, he would probably resent her sympathy… and she kind of liked that too.

Since she had finished the book she had been thinking about him nearly all the time. She just couldn't help it. She kept thinking about how much he deserved to have had a happy ending. Sure, he was kind of a jerk… but who could blame him really? He hadn't exactly had many reasons to be a big cuddly ball of sunshine. Also, she realized that he as he was described in the books, he was not as handsome as Alan Rickman. Who is? Ha! That didn't matter much to her either, because there was something about his imperfections that made him all the more appealing. His death… particularly the way he had died, had absolutely broken her heart.

Poor thing was probably never loved a day in his life and then he got mauled by a giant magic snake.

Terese sighed and opened her eyes. She wasn't getting anything done, and she was starting to get a little hungry. Might as well see if I have enough change for some Cheetos out of the vending machine and hit up my favorite study lounge.

There was a little room near the art classrooms that nobody else ever went to. Terese always went there to eat lunch, or take a nap when a class got cancelled. It was full of tacky décor that made her ill, and the two sofas were terribly uncomfortable, but it was private, and it become her own little home away from home.

It turned out that not only did she have enough change for some Cheetos, but for a soda as well, so she stuffed her snacks in her bag and headed off to her happy little haven. When she pushed the door open and looked over at her favorite sofa… she was shocked to find it occupied.

Aw damn! Why does there always have to be people everywhere? I don't really like people. Well, most people, anyway.

Rather than turning around and walking right back out again and risk appearing rude, Terese set her bag down on the other sofa and settled in with her vending machine fare and her rather worn copy of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince."

She had been reading for several minutes when the woman on the other sofa suddenly spoke. "Whatchu' readin' there?"

Terese looked up at her. She had seen this lady before; in fact they had guitar class together. She was blonde, slightly heavyset, and probably in her mid-forties. She dressed rather eccentrically and behaved even more eccentrically. Other students often giggled about her behind her back because she talked like an old male blues singer and said some pretty off the wall things.

"Umm… It's a Harry Potter book. I've read it a few times, but I like them."

The woman smirked. "You like magic?" she asked.

Oh boy. Terese nodded. "Yeah, I guess I do. I like the characters mostly."

Her unwanted companion let out a raspy, barking laugh. "Yeah? Bet you wish you could be there with them don't you? That'd be real cool."

"Yep. It sure would."

Thinking that the conversation must be over, Terese lowered her eyes back down to her page.

"You got a magic man?"

Terese looked back up, stunned, and tried her very hardest not to laugh at the absurd question.

"Nope. I had boyfriend up until just recently, but he was a musician. Played like magic, but that's as close as it got. He dumped me… again. I think I'm over guys for a while."

The woman was grinning like the Cheshire Cat and it made Terese nervous. "Naw, I mean do you got a magic man in there?" She pointed at Terese's battered paperback.

Amused, Terese grinned back at her. "Yeah, I suppose so. There's a guy in there who's pretty cool. My favorite character."

"Bet you wish you could go see him, huh?"

Terese nodded. It was true, she really did. Holy moly, I'm starting to think the crazy lady "gets" me. Maybe my mom's right…

The woman started rooting around in her beat up old handbag. Once again, Terese let her eyes settle back onto her page. Once again it was a short-lived silence.

"Here we go" mumbled the lady, pulling something out. "Here it is." She held her hand out to Terese and offered her… a stone. It was round, and had a green tint to it. Honestly it looked like it could have come out of the parking lot. Still not wanting to be rude, Terese took it.

Shit… what do I do with this? Am I supposed to keep it? Admire it? Stick it up my nose and do a rain dance? What?

"You wanna hang onto that" the woman told her. "When you're all alone with you're book you wanna give it a little squeeze. Give it a squeeze and go find your magic man. Don't lose it. Make sure you don't lose it."

Terese smiled politely at her even though she was thinking to herself that this poor lady was completely barking mad and probably ought to be getting some professional help.

"Ok, thank you" she said. Holy crap, I can't take much more of this, I have to get out of here. "Well, I better get going. I have math class in a few minutes. See you later!" It was a lie. Her math class didn't start for another forty minutes.

She carefully slipped the stone into her pocket and put her book back into her bag before making a hasty retreat.

She had made her way halfway across the campus before she finally decided that she really didn't feel like waiting around anymore, and she wasn't in the mood to sit through that boring damned math class today anyway.

A while later, at home sprawled out on her bed, Terese snickered when she pulled out the stone again. She'd have to tell her roommates about this when they got home. It was just too bizarre not to share.

Out loud, since she was alone, she chuckled, "I guess I better squeeze it now and go find my magic man. I wish." If only it were that easy. If only crazy ladies had real powers.

For a laugh, she opened up her book with one hand and held the stone in the other. Smirking, she closed her eyes and squeezed the stone hard. That's right, take me to Hogwarts, oh mystic parking lot rock…

Suddenly she found herself feeling very strange, and she felt her hand let go of the book. She had been tired all day, but this went farther than that. She was physically unable to open her eyes. I have got to stop staying up so late… Giving in to the odd sensation, she let herself fall back onto her pillow… except her pillow wasn't there.

"Ow!" Terese sat up like a shot, and her eyes flew open. Revived by the impact of her head hitting… something hard… she was not tired anymore. Thoroughly confused she flipped herself around to see what the hell she had cracked her head on, and realized that she was not on her bed anymore. She was sitting in some grass, and the offending hard thing was a rather large jagged rock.

"What the hell…"

The sun was nearly hidden beneath the horizon, and the night was rapidly approaching. In the eerie half-light she looked around in shock. A few feet to her left was a wooden cottage with smoke curling up from its chimney. There was a forest in front of where she was sitting, and behind her…

"Oh my…"

Behind her was the most amazing sight she had ever laid eyes on in all of her twenty-five years of life. It was a sprawling, magnificent castle. Her heart began to pound and she felt like she could faint right there in the grass. She knew where she was, but the very idea was so completely, ridiculously impossible that she almost refused to believe it.

"The crazy bitty actually sent me to Hogwarts. This can't be real. I must have passed out and I'm dreaming…"

She heard a low growl from inside the cottage, and some deep barking. There was apparently a very large dog in there. Terese giggled deliriously. "Oh, that'll just be Fang… ha… I've lost my mind!"

There were heavy footsteps from inside, and the large door flew open. "Who's there?" said a gruff voice. "Harry, is that you?"

Oh what the hell. Why not? "No" she called out tentatively, pushing herself to her feet and brushing off her jeans. "I'm not Harry. I'm… uh… My name is Terese, and I need to see Professor Dumbledore." That seemed like the right thing to say. It certainly couldn't hurt, anyway.

Holy crap he really is huge!

Hagrid looked wary, and Terese started to get nervous. A muggle popping up unexpectedly inside the Hogwarts grounds was not something that was supposed to be able to happen.

Of course since in reality this place isn't even supposed to exist it seems we'll all have to get over it won't we?

"Who are you?" the big man asked her, obviously not happy to see her there.

"I… look, I really need to see Professor Dumbledore. I obviously shouldn't be here, and he's probably the only one who can make any sense of it. Please take me to him. I'm not a threat, so you really have nothing to lose. He'll want to know about me anyway."

She could tell he was irritated and confused by the predicament she had put him in. He knew she was right, but he wasn't happy about it.

"These are dangerous times we're livin' in" he scolded her. "Security around here is tight these days, and somebody poppin' up on the grounds out of the blue… and dressed like a muggle… well I think you ought 'ter start doin' some explainin' miss."

Dressed like a muggle? Ha! If only it were that simple.

Terese nodded. "I know, and I will. I just need to see the Headmaster. It's of vital importance." She felt a bit guilty for saying that, but at the moment it actually was of vital importance for her.

As Hagrid led her along in the direction of the castle, Terese's eyes darted around wildly in her desire to take in every little thing that there was for her to possibly see. She didn't know if she was dreaming, or if this was somehow real, but either way, she didn't want to miss anything.

He took her in a side entrance, and she knew that he was likely trying to avoid having her noticed. It might have worked, as the corridor they were presently in seemed to completely empty, if it hadn't been for the mischievous noisemaker who went swooping by them screaming at the top of his voice "Ho Biggie Buggle! Hagrid's brought a MUGGLE!"

Her large companion gave the poltergeist an irritated glare. "Oh shut up Peeves! She's not a muggle" he grumbled.

Terese knew it was probably not a good thing they'd had such loud attention called to them, but she couldn't help but grin. Peeves! It's Peeves!

"A muggledy muggle she be! Looks like one to me!" He flew off, still cackling.

A few students began to spill out of side rooms and into the corridor, and they all eyed Terese suspiciously. Hagrid put a hand on her back and shuffled her along ahead of him. He smiled nervously at the students and whispered to Terese "They'll all be on their way to dinner in the great hall."

"Hagrid?" said a cold, silky voice from behind Terese. "Who is this?

Terese spun around and when she saw the owner of the voice she froze. Her heart started to pound and throat felt like it was going to close off completely. Her eyes started to water and her hands began to shake.

He was, of course, dressed in all black wizards' robes, with a high collar and extra long sleeves. He wasn't as tall as she'd expected. His hair was inky black, and hung in front of his face as if he were trying to hide behind it.

Wow, that's definitely greasier than I even imagined. Poor thing…

"Oh… Well, ah, Professor Snape, this girl… well she's here to see the Headmaster" Hagrid explained, obviously wishing he could've avoided this particular confrontation.

Terese was still staring stupidly up at the object of her most recurrent fantasies. His black eyes slid slowly down from Hagrid's nervous face to her own, and he arched an eyebrow at her in question.

Hagrid nudged her side, and Terese swallowed hard. "Yes, I… I have to see Professor Dumbledore" she squeaked.

His eyes really are black, as in all the way black, to the point where I can't even see his pupils from here. I always thought that would be some sort of exaggeration, although I don't know why, because it's her world, after all, and she can make him and everyone else however she likes so it only stands to reason that…

"Is he expecting you?" he asked her, interrupting her internal rambling, his expression making it clear that he didn't trust her in the least.

Terese shook her head. She couldn't lie to him. Even if she hadn't know very well that he was a legilimens and would have no trouble extracting the truth directly from her mind, there was no way she could have looked up at this particular man and told him a lie.

He jerked his head to flick the hair away from his eyes and those black pools bore down on her so hard that she had to take a step back in self-defense. She started to have a strange stream of thoughts inside her head, with images of the day flashing through her mind against her will, and she knew very well what he was doing. In spite of the horror of it, she started to giggle, unable to help herself. She'd never dared hope in a million years that she'd ever be standing in front of this person, and… well, it was him!

The odd mental stream stopped, and the wizard in front of her no longer looked suspicious, but instead appeared downright disturbed.

"I'll escort you to the Headmaster's office" he said to Hagrid. "We must catch him before he leaves for the great hall."

Hagrid nodded, looking even more nervous than he had before. Terese felt sorry for him, and wished she hadn't had to put him in such an awkward position.

Professor Snape brushed by her to lead them on their way, and Terese had to bite her lip hard to keep from gasping. The scent of him hit her nose as he passed her in such close proximity and she nearly swooned. That also had not been what she'd expected, although she supposed it stood to reason. He smelled of an odd, but not unpleasant combination of wood smoke and herbs, with just a hint of sweat. The sweat, she realized, must come from staying so completely covered in heavy, dark clothing all the time.

As he swept along in front of them Terese kept staring at his back. The words of her unusual classmate kept replaying themselves in her mind. "Give it a squeeze and go find your magic man." Well, she had found him hadn't she?

Suddenly another thought occurred to her. Her friend had told her not to lose the stone. Had she meant before she had the chance to use it? Or had she meant afterwards as well? Did the object that had brought her to Hogwarts also have the power to bring her home? Suddenly Terese was overcome with panic. She frantically patted the pockets of her jeans. The stone was gone. Hagrid gave her a peculiar look, and she smiled, trying to look casual. Probably gonna have to mention that to Dumbledore too…

When they arrived at the stone gargoyle Professor Snape quietly muttered something to it, and it jumped out of the way so that the wall could open up. Terese wished he hadn't been so quiet. It would have been fun to hear the password. She supposed though that it really wasn't any of her business.

Terese held out her hands to balance as she stepped onto the moving stone staircase, and she felt a bit silly when she saw Snape smirk and roll his eyes.

Dumbledore's office was actually very much as she had expected it to be. The books had described it well, and apparently the picture she'd had in her mind had been a close one.

Terese's eyes were immediately drawn to the gorgeous bird on the golden perch. "Fawkes" she whispered. Upon hearing its name, the phoenix turned to look at her. To her amusement, Snape turned to look at her too. I know he knows how I got here, but he didn't go back far enough to know how much I know about his world. This could be fun…

"Ah, Severus, Hagrid" Dumbledore greeted them. "Would you mind introducing me to our guest?"

He was tall, taller than Snape, and his silver beard and hair were truly beautiful. He brought to mind an impressive, ornate Victorian Santa Clause, with no belly. The purple cloak he wore over his robes was rich and inviting. His blue eyes shone just as brightly as she'd always assumed they would, and they were presently focused on her.

Professor Snape opened his mouth to speak but Hagrid, seemingly unintentionally, cut him off with his own version of the evening's events.

"Professor Dumbledore, this girl says that she needs to see you on an urgent matter. I found her outside my house just now, and I thought that it would be best to bring her right to you."

Dumbledore's eyes never once left Terese as he listened to his Groundskeeper's explanation of her presence there.

"I see. Thank you, Hagrid" he said. "Why don't you go on down to dinner, and let Professor McGonagall know that I'll be joining you all shortly."

Hagrid, still looking uneasy, glanced to Terese, and then back to his employer before he finally nodded and turned to leave.

There was silence until they heard the wall down the stairs close back up behind him.

Terese didn't know what she should say, and Dumbledore turned to Snape. As he did, Terese suddenly noticed his hand. It was withered and black, and she knew immediately that this was the last year that the kindly Headmaster would be alive. The thought made her sad.

"Headmaster, I don't know who this person is but she does not belong here. She's been transported here from afar by some very dark magic and I don't trust her."

Terese's jaw dropped, and she gave him a hurt, disbelieving look.

What? Dark magic? I don't think I'd say it was dark. He saw inside my head and he knows very well I don't have any bad intentions here! What the hell is he trying to do?

The elderly wizard's blue eyes sparkled, and Terese saw a ghost of a smile cross his lips. She hoped that meant that he knew his professor was exaggerating.

"Let's not jump to conclusions, Severus." He smiled fully now, and stepped towards her. "I'm sure our guest has a perfectly reasonable explanation for her presence here, don't you my dear?"

Terese chewed the inside of her cheek. "Um… Well, yes and no."

Snape snorted with disgust and shook his head. Terese ignored him because she knew that if she grinned at his characteristic scorn it would look terribly suspicious.

"You see sir, I was sent here by… a friend, I guess. Um… I come from… somewhere else. Somewhen else also. Another place, another time..." she knew she wasn't making any sense, but she didn't know how to explain something that she didn't really understand herself.

She sighed. "Ok. I'm just going to give it to you as I know it, and if you don't understand, then we'll have to go from there. As far as I knew, you guys were all part of a story. You aren't supposed to be real. I like the story a lot, and when I ran into someone who said she could send me into it, I didn't believe her, but I did what she said and now here I am."

Snape was staring at Dumbledore to gage his reaction but the Headmaster never flinched. He simply watched Terese as if it were all perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. She took that as encouragement, and continued.

"Where I'm from it's 2012, not 1996. I know it's 1996 because of your hand sir. In the story that happened then." She turned to Snape. "You're the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher this year" she said to him. "Congratulations on that" she mumbled, meaning it with all of her heart, but feeling silly saying it.

Snape's black eyes narrowed even more than they already were and she could tell he wasn't amused.

"You're an American, aren't you?" asked the Headmaster, still speaking as if there were absolutely nothing to be concerned about. Snape looked like he could burst right out of his skin.

"Headmaster, I think perhaps some Veritaserum is in order in this situation. We don't who sent her here or why…

Dumbledore cut him off with a dismissive wave of his hand. "What is your name my dear?" he asked.

Feeling a bit sorry for Snape, in spite of the fact that he wanted her interrogated, Terese gave him an apologetic look that he pointedly ignored.

"Terese Jones" she replied. "And yes, I'm an American."

Dumbledore nodded. "Can you tell me how, exactly, your friend managed to send you to us?"

"I don't actually know her very well" she explained. "She's just someone that I have a class with. She saw me reading…your story… and she gave me a little stone. She said that I should squeeze it to come and find…" she looked involuntarily over at the brooding DADA professor. He glared at her and she swallowed hard. "This place. Hogwarts" she lied. "She said I could use it to come here. I thought she was crazy, honestly. I didn't believe her. I went home and was reading again when I tried it just for fun. The next thing I knew I was outside Hagrid's house."

"May I see the stone?" Dumbledore asked, still perfectly calm.

Terese sighed. "I'm afraid I lost it, and she specifically told me not to. It might be on the ground outside Hagrid's. It's pretty small and it's kind of got a green tint to it. It's not going to be easy to find…"

The Headmaster gave a nod to Snape and he immediately headed for the door.

"Severus will fetch it for us" Dumbledore assured her.

When the wall below once again slid closed he gestured for her to have a seat in the chair in front of his desk. He moved to his own ornate chair and sat down.

"I'd like to hear more about the stories" he said gently. "The stories that told you about my hand, and about Severus' new position here."

Terese nodded. She had expected this. "Ok. I know a lot. They cover a lot. I know about Voldemort, and about Harry Potter. I know what happened to his parents. I know about many of the people, places, and events in your world."

"You said that you come from the year 2012" he said, giving away what he really wanted to know.

"Yes, and I know why that interests you. You want to know if you win. If you defeat him. Or, rather, I suppose if Harry does."

Dumbledore nodded.

"Harry wins. Riddle is destroyed. Things get really bad before it all ends though, and there is great loss of life. You already know that you won't see the end yourself, at least not in your present physical form."

He let out a loud, relieved, sigh. "I assume you are aware of the details of my demise?" he asked her.

She nodded, wondering if she looked as sick as the thought made her feel. "Yes, I know that he has to do it. Poor darling…"

A silver eyebrow shot up in shocked curiosity. Terese smirked.

"Oh don't look at me like that" she muttered, embarrassed. "I like him. He hasn't been treated very well by life, has he? He doesn't deserve all of the misfortune he gets dealt. It makes me sad."

The old wizard nodded, and he regarded her with a sympathetic, respectful gaze. She could tell her confession had made him see her in a different way, and he scanned her face as if he were deciding what to do about it.

"I can help, I think. I don't have any books with me, but I remember the most important things pretty well…" she began to offer.

Dumbledore shook his head. "I do appreciate the sentiment, but I'm afraid I don't think that would be very wise. Certain events have been set into motion, and if, as you say, it is already destined that Voldemort will be destroyed, I think it would be very dangerous to try to alter the course at this point."

She stared at him, shocked. "So you want to ignore the chance to save all those lives? There are so many good people. I know who is going to be killed and when…"

"It is regrettable" he said, firmly, even though she could tell he was sorry. "To have to turn away from what seems like it could be such a blessing, I know. The risk however, is too great. It is impossible to know if changing even one event could have catastrophic consequences. If you know the story, then you know how high the stakes really are for our world."

"Voldemort's going to kill Severus" she blurted out, desperately.

Dumbledore inhaled sharply, and she knew he was worried. "When?" he asked.

She considered for a moment that she could lie. She could say it would be soon, and maybe he would agree to let her help. It wouldn't work though. If he wanted to, he could sift through her mind just as easily as Snape had, and besides that, by the time Voldemort really was going to set his snake on Severus, Dumbledore would be long dead and unable to do anything about it anyway.

"Not until the end" she admitted, with a defeated sigh. "It's horrible. He uses the snake…"

He reached across the table and set his hand on hers to stop her. "Forgive me, but I'd rather not know" he whispered, his blue eyes watery and full of sadness.

"I have to warn him" she said. "I can't just let that happen. It broke my heart when I thought he was just fiction and there's no way I can let it happen now that he's real. Well, now that I know he's real… you know what I mean."

Dumbledore gave her hand a little squeeze. "There isn't time this evening, but we will discuss this further. I have questions for you, and there may be the possibility of compromise. In the meantime, Severus will be returning momentarily with your stone, and I need you to promise me that you will not repeat to him what you have told me. Will you give me your word?"

Terese turned her hand so that she could squeeze his in return. It was his good one, of course. "I'm a Slytherin sir. I think it only fair to tell you that since you're asking me for promises. That might not make sense to you, but trust me, it's official." She knew he wouldn't get the concept of Pottermore, and she wasn't about to bother trying to explain. "I can't honestly promise you that I'll never tell him, but I will commit to not telling him until we've had a chance to talk about it again. Is that acceptable?"

Dumbledore smiled, his blue eyes wrinkling around the edges. "I suppose it will have to be, won't it Miss Jones?"

Half a second later, Professor Snape emerged from the spiral staircase and approached them at the desk. He set Terese's little green stone down in front of the Headmaster.

"It was in the grass in front of Hagrid's hut" he told Dumbledore. "It wasn't terribly difficult to locate with a simple spell."

Dumbledore carefully picked up the stone and peered at it over his glasses. "What is your opinion, Severus?"

Snape looked down at Terese irritably. "It isn't dark magic" he said, obviously disappointed, and holding her personally responsible. "In fact, I think it is rather similar to a portkey. Only it isn't any sort of portkey I've ever seen."

Dumbledore nodded. "I see. Well, if you don't mind, Miss Jones, I would like to keep this here in my office for the time being. I can keep it safe, and also try to see what I can make of it over the next few days."

Terese nodded, not seeing where there could be any harm in that. It occurred to her that there had been no mention of sending her back home, and honestly… that was a relief.

"In the meantime," he continued, "I think it would be best for you to remain here at Hogwarts. Since you have aligned yourself with Slytherin house, I expect you'll find yourself most at home in the dungeons. Am I correct?"

Terese was surprised. She had assumed, after having forbidden her from warning Severus about his impending doom, that Dumbledore would want to keep her as far away from his DADA Professor as he possibly could. She had never imagined that he'd place her directly in his territory. It was, of course, a welcome bit of news.

She grinned. "Absolutely." I hope I get to see the common room, she thought. I just love the Slytherin common room!

Snape looked positively disgusted. "How is it, may I ask, that you can possibly claim affiliation with any particular Hogwarts house, madam? You are a muggle, and an American."

He says both of those words like they are an insult. I am really a glutton for punishment, aren't I?

"Where I come from, I was sorted, and yes, I belong with your house. I'm quite proud of that too, by the way." Remembering that she was actually wearing some of her Slytherin gear, she flashed him a cheeky smile and pulled her necklace out from under her shirt. It was a cheap metal Slytherin crest that she'd bought on eBay. Then she held up her wrist, and showed off her rubber Slytherin bracelet. "I've got the socks on today too" she said, proudly, "But I'm not going to take off my boots right now."

Dumbledore smiled at her, clearly amused, but Snape looked livid.

"Ridiculous" he spat, leveling yet another wicked glare on Terese. She sighed, and put her arm back down.

"I don't think so" she mumbled. "But whatever. So much for house pride."

The Headmaster patted Snape on the back. "Severus, I must ask you to escort our guest to the dungeons. If you would be so kind as to wait with her in your office, I'll have the house elves prepare her a room near your own chambers. I think it would be best if she had someone that she is familiar with nearby to keep an eye on her. Miss Jones could prove quite an asset to the Order, Severus, and if she should be discovered by the opposition, the consequences could be dire."

"It is for exactly that reason that I must disagree with you Headmaster. I think that the Slytherin dungeons are actually the last place you should choose for her. I don't see how it could possibly be advisable to surround her with all of the death eaters' children. Perhaps Professor McGonagall…" he gave Terese a look that suggested she smelled bad. "Or Professor Sprout… could find a place for her."

She knew what he was implying, and she gave him a dirty look right back. She had friends who were Hufflepuffs, and she had a great deal of respect for them. She didn't appreciate his insinuation that they could be used as an insult.

"I can stay out of sight. Everyone's at dinner right now anyway. You can always say I'm a squib."

Dumbledore shook his head. "No, I don't think that will be necessary. As of now, you are a visitor from a school in America, who is here indefinitely to observe our teaching methods."

He pulled a spare wand out of a drawer in his desk. "This should help."

In response to the horrified look that had come over Snape, he added "It is only for display, and has no core. I carved it myself, many years ago. Great fun…" he smiled at Terese. "If you keep a low profile, and keep unnecessary conversation to a minimum, you should be able to pass for a witch. I'll fill Professor McGonagall in on our situation, and between us, we should be able to keep up appearances. I think that trying to hide Miss Jones from the Slytherins would only serve to raise their suspicions whereas making her a perfectly innocent part of their everyday life will keep her quite protected."

Snape was visibly furious, but he didn't argue any further.

"Right. Well then, I think I'll be off to the great hall. We've nearly missed all of dinner, unfortunately. Severus, I'll have the elves send a meal down to you and Miss Jones in your office." He stood up and gave Terese a little pat on the head. "Good night my dear. We'll meet again tomorrow to further discuss this fascinating turn of events."