Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling owns the original characters and the world; I'm just borrowing them again. It's fun!
Author's Note: A reviewer, JewelryGirl, pointed out that I'd forgotten to tell who won the bet Severus and Hermione made about the results from her OWL students. So here's a one-shot telling that story. Thanks for reminding me, JewelryGirl!
Than I Have Ever Known: The Bet
Charlie quietly sidled up to Minerva McGonagall and slipped her a bag. "I'm putting this on Severus to win," he said.
She nodded, and pocketed the bag. A few minutes later, Millie arrived with another bag. "On Hermione," she said.
Minerva raised an eyebrow. "Really? Your husband was just here betting on Severus," she said.
"He claims that Severus will win—says he remembers how insane his classes were and thinks that there's no way Hermione can be a strict enough teacher to get that many OWL students with Outstandings. I think he's wrong." Millie smiled as she said this, certain that she would prove right. "I've known Hermione longer, and I've never seen her fail."
Minerva shook her hand. "You both have valid points. Hermione's been keeping her students' marks quiet, so it's anyone's guess at this point."
"Is it always this crazy around here when OWLs and NEWTs are happening?" Millie asked, sliding into one of the staff room's comfortable chairs.
"It varies," said Minerva.
"I've had half a dozen students in my office today, all of them panicking about either their upcoming exams or the ones they've just taken. And here we are betting on them. It's not really sporting, is it?"
Septima overheard the last bit as she walked in and said, "Absolutely not. But they never know about it. Why shouldn't we have a little fun and try to make some money? Safer than betting on horses, isn't it?"
"Still," said Millie. She sighed, and then grinned. "So, who'd you bet on?"
"Severus, of course," said Septima. "Hermione's brilliant, but she just isn't an experienced enough teacher yet."
"Severus is definitely not going to lose," said Aurora Sinistra, who was making tea in the corner of the room and had heard the entire conversation. "Do you know what his standards for NEWT students are like? What the exams are like? Getting an O on a Potions OWL is difficult, and if you're not up to it, you're just not."
"Speaking from memory, are we, Aurora?" Minerva asked.
"Of course," said Aurora, wincing at the memory. "I barely scraped an A on my Potions OWL, and that was back when the professor teaching it would take E's and O's."
Tonks bounced into the room, Teddy in tow. Her hair was bright pink, and his was purple. They made quite the pair. "Last student just left the Potions OWL," she reported. "All bets are in?"
"They are," Minerva replied. "Betting on the outcome for the Potions OWL is now closed," she said, raising her voice so the rest of the staff scattered throughout the room could hear her.
"When do we get the results?" Millie asked. "I heard the students get them in the post during the holidays."
"We get them earlier, right after school lets out. It helps us start planning possible class sizes for the sixth years," Aurora explained. "So we'll have the results in two weeks, and then we'll know who wins."
Tonks picked Teddy up and tossed him into a squashy chair, where he bounced up and down, laughing. "Remus and my money's on Hermione. I respect Severus, but I really think Hermione's going to do it. Can't wait to see Severus' face when he loses."
Septima laughed as Teddy decided to change his hair colour to blend in with the chair's upholstery. "I still think Severus going to win this one. Age and experience is on his side. Those are hard to beat."
The letters containing the OWL results were opened and tallied in the staff room while Hermione perched on the arm of Severus' chair, drinking a cup of tea. She'd worked her students hard, but she wasn't really expecting to win. So when Minerva announced, "Eighteen Outstandings for Potions!" Hermione squeaked and topped over on top of Severus, spilling her tea over both of them.
Tonks hauled Hermione out of the chair and Severus charmed them dry. "Just getting ready for Venice," he said, offering his hand to his wife in defeat. "You won, fair and square."
"Thanks," she said. "I thought you would, so I've been brushing up on my French."
Minerva laughed as she started to tally up bets and allocate winnings. "You'll be fine," she told her. "Learn some directions and food words and you'll do well enough."
"Oh, I know some Italian," said Hermione. "I just thought we'd be going to France."
"We'll save that for our next holiday," said Severus. "If you'll excuse the two of us, we have some seasickness potion to make before we prepare to leave." He took Hermione's arm and drew her out of the room. The last thing they heard from the staff was Millie saying, "I told you so!" to Charlie.
"Well done, love," said Severus, pushing Hermione gently up against the wall in the corridor.
"Oh?" she said, looking up at him with mischief glinting in her eyes.
"Indeed," he said, proceeding to snog her senseless before dragging her off to their rooms for more privacy.