Author Note – I know I'm awful but a full explanation is on my profile. I hope you didn't give up on me! Also this chapter had only been looked over by me since my beta Ava Demski recently had a baby so I'm giving her a rest.
On the approach to Christmas the various students that attended the DA all improved greatly. On one unfortunate occasion though Lockhart had arrived at the beginning of a meeting and tried to 'help'. At first Grace had politely refused, hoping to get rid of him quickly…but that hadn't worked. The idiot had started trying to take over the meeting, insisting that he could be of great especially since Grace was 'only a muggle studies teacher'.
Severus had been planning on helping her demonstrate different shield charms instead he had whispered to her that she should just duel him instead.
Grace had leaped on the opportunity eagerly and suggested it to Lockhart who had given her a condescending smile but agreed. The students had quickly stepped on watched them with anticipation.
Mr Moron had been all for just disarming each other but Grace had said, with deceptive sweetness, that wouldn't be fair to him since he wouldn't be able to display his abundant skills. Unable to refuse when she'd put it like that Lockhart had reluctantly took to the duelling stage.
Out of the corner of her eye Grace had seen the twins, and the four second year Gryffindors grin with delight. They all knew how skilled Grace was and believed her when she told them Lockhart was a moron.
The duel had lasted only five seconds and left Lockhart with numerous injuries. Grace had cast quite a few jinxes hexes before Lockhart had even lifted his wand to do his first spell.
The high that Grace had got from annihilating Mr Moron had lasted for well over two weeks. Even Severus had seemed so very slightly more upbeat.
Then on the last Saturday of term before the Christmas holidays Grace was once again setting up for the Yule Ball.
This year the prefects had decided on a green and gold colour theme. Grace looked around the Great Hall and looked over the decorations. The prefects had asked to have the star-like lights that Grace had used in the Riddle Hunt. These were floating at the same height the candles had last year. The tables had dark green covers trimmed with gold on them. There were massive wreaths hung on the walls and decorated with gold ornaments. There were also small golden ornaments on the tables as centrepieces, the ornaments were a range of angels, robins, and snowmen and were enchanted to dance on the tables.
'Professor Hamilton?' Grace turned towards the dance floor and saw Melanie approaching her.
'I just checked with the elves and the menu is sorted.' Melanie handed Grace a piece of parchment with various food and drinks checked off.
'Thanks Melanie, so are you and Justin coming to the ball together?' The two Ravenclaw sixth years had started dating after they had won the Riddle Hunt together.
Melanie blushed a little. 'Yeah he asked me last week. I was really pleased when – ' Melanie broke and looked over Grace's shoulder.
Grace turned and had to hold back a laugh. Severus was stood with his arms folded, two cauldrons floating behind him and a substantial scowl on his face.
'Professor Snape, how are you?' Grace said this with a barely hidden grin.
Severus walked up to her, his scowl getting worse as he did. 'I bought you that book so I wouldn't have to make this blasted potion again.'
Grace laughed. 'I know, but you're so much better at potions than I am. I tried to make the potion last week and the glittery bits sorta stuck to the floor.'
Behind her Melanie stifled a laugh. Severus rolled his eyes. 'Why didn't you ask me for help? You could have blown yourself up.'
Grace snorted. 'How is that any different to my asking you to do it for me?'
Severus scowled at her again when he realised what he'd said. He waved his wand and the cauldrons floated into position. 'There you go, two cauldrons of green and gold Glittering Potion. Same stasis spell as last year.' Severus turned to leave but Grace grabbed his arm to stop him.
'Wait. I was wondering…are we…er…' Grace drifted off not wanting to suggest attending together in case Severus didn't want to.
'Are we what?' Severus said looking at her.
Grace shifted uncomfortably. 'Well are we…you know attending…together?'
Severus' eyes widening fractionally. He glanced at Melanie who quickly moved away and found something else to do. 'I assumed so, but if you were wanting to attend with someone else…'
Grace looked at him in shock. Why the hell would he think that? 'No I don't want to go with someone else. I would like to go with you but if…you don't want to – '
'No, no…' Severus said quickly. 'That is to say, I do want to attend with you again.' Suddenly he frowned. 'As long as those red headed morons don't pull anything.'
Grace shook her head. 'They won't. I told them yesterday that if they even think of doing something I'll tell their Mother and obliviate them of their pranking knowledge.'
Severus coughed and hid a smile. 'Don't they realise that's illegal?'
'Apparently they think that since I'm not too fond of rules myself, I'd be willing to do it.'
This time Severus smirked. 'They seem to have a handle on you.' He turned to walk off again. 'I'll pick you up at eight at your quarters again.'
After Severus had left Grace smiled and went back to her organising. It wasn't the most romantic way to get asked on a date, but it was Severus. Grace grinned again, she couldn't wait until he saw her dress for this year.
Severus stood outside Grace's quarters and waited for her to answer his knock. He didn't know why but he was even more nervous this year than he had been the first time around. Perhaps it was because they were more romantically involved than before. Though they still hadn't progressed very far into a relationship, they occasionally shared a meal at a private table in the kitchen. They had also walked around Hogmeade together as chaperones for the students' visits. And of course they had 'made out' as the kids would say, a few times, but nothing too far. Severus was reluctant to go further because he didn't want to expose Grace to his darker side if the Dark Lord returned and he had to resume his role as a spy. He also knew that she was fragile in some ways. Her reaction to the anniversary of her son's birthday had shown that. Grace obviously had plenty reasons to be fragile and he didn't want to give her another one.
At that moment the door opened and Severus forgot his concerns.
Her dress was even more stunning than last year's, if possible. It had a tight bodice that was a deep emerald green. It had intricate silver stitching on it in an eye catching, swirling design. The skirt of the dress was the same emerald colour and had swirls of silver stitching along the bottom. Severus wondered briefly if Grace had cast a charm on the silver stitching as it seemed to glint in the light more than it should. Grace was wearing her usual necklace that she always wore and her usual ring on her right hand. She also had some silver bracelets on but they weren't what caught Severus' eye.
Grace did not have and glamours covering her scars.
Severus stepped forward and took her hands. 'You're not covering them up?' He asked her softly.
Grace shook her head . 'No, I went back and forth for ages…' she gave a soft laugh, 'it wasn't until you knocked on the door that I finally decided to leave the glamours off.'
Severus let go of her hands and looked at her face. Her hair was still black but now it was falling in soft waves to the middle of her back. She had silver and green highlights sprinkled throughout the inky tresses.
'You changed your hair again.' He said with amusement. Why could she not decide on one colour, or one length even?
Grace grinned up at him, her silvery blue eyes dancing with her own amusement. 'Of course I did. Now it matches my dress.'
Severus just rolled his eyes and led the way down the corridor.
Hermione darted into the bathroom with the stolen garments in her arms.
Harry, Ron and Neville were hidden in a toilet cubicle at the end of the room. Hermione had, after a few tries, managed to vanish the wall separating two cubicles thus making more room for them.
Going into the large cubicle space Hermione held up the adult sized robes. 'I got them, I'm just glad she was asked to chaperone again.'
Harry nodded and stirred the potion that was perched on one of the toilets. 'Is there a hair on them as well?'
Hermione nodded and plucked a hair from the collar of the robes. 'Yes, is the potion ready?'
Neville nodded this time as he put away unused ingredients. 'It just needs the hair.'
From his position against the wall Ron snorted. 'I still can't believe we're doing this. I mean, you're going to impersonate a teacher Hermione.'
Hermione hung the robes on a hook on the back of the toilet door. 'I know, not to mention stealing ingredients and breaking into a teacher's personal quarters. But we all agreed that Professor Hamilton was unlikely to tell us anything about the future.'
Harry ladled a dose of the polyjuice potion into a glass. 'She's much more likely to talk about it with the other teachers.' He held the glass out. 'Drop it in Hermione.'
Hermione dropped the stolen hair into the glass. The potion fizzed slightly and turned crimson. 'Okay all of you clear out so I can change.'
After the boys quickly scarpered out of the cubicle Hermione removed her own clothes and pulled on the stolen garments. Hermione was glad they used Hedwig to owl order some larger sized underwear. She had drawn the line at stealing her teacher's undergarments.
Bracing herself Hermione gulped down the red potion. Hermione scrunched her nose slightly. It wasn't an unpleasant taste, sort of like an apple pie that had used unripe apples. Very tart but bearable.
Then suddenly Hermione's insides started writhing and twisting and she felt vaguely sick just from the sensation. Then a burning sensation spread from her stomach across her entire body, Hermione gasped and doubled over.
'Hermione?' She heard Harry call from outside the cubicle.
Hermione gasped out a reply. 'I'm fine, just wait.'
The effects got worse after that. Her skin felt and looked like bubbling wax making Hermione drop to her knees. Pains spread along her back and limbs and Hermione knew she was getting taller. Her hair fell into her face and Hermione could see it darken and become straighter and less frizzy.
Then suddenly the sensations all stopped.
Hermione slowly got to her feet, unsteady and slightly off balance due to her new height.
'Hermione?' Neville's uncertain voice came through the door.
Hermione looked down at herself in surprise. She knew what the potion did obviously, but to experience it first-hand…that was something you couldn't understand from books. Hermione quickly slipped on her enlarged shoes and straightened her robes.
Opening the door Hermione had the perverse pleasure of seeing all three boys jaws drop.
'Bloody hell!' Ron said with a tone of awe.
'Ronald, stop swearing.' Hermione lifted her hand to her throat…she even sounded right.
Harry laughed in shock. 'You even sound like her!'
Hermione shrugged. 'It's supposed to do that. What would be the point in impersonating someone if you didn't sound like them?'
She reached into her bag and pulled out a hat with tinsel on it. She thrust the hat into Ron's hands. 'Hold that while I sort my hair.' Hermione pulled the dark hair back into the expected style. Took the hat back and put it on. 'Well?' She asked turning slightly. The boys all gave positive comments. 'Well it's eleven o'clock. Make sure you do your part and then meet me back here.'
Hermione quickly left and made her way towards the Great Hall.
Grace couldn't stop smiling. This time around Severus had not felt the need to stand guard over the drinks table. He had also asked her to dance, without any threats on Grace's part. It was now about quarter to twelve and the ball was winding down. Grace was stood with Aurora and Minerva sipping a butterbeer. After more than a year in this world Grace still marvelled at the taste of the frothy drink. It was a cross between butterscotch pudding and Werther's Originals.
Aurora smiled at Grace. 'I see that our surly potions master didn't require any persuasion to dance with you this year.'
Grace grinned and looked at Severus who was talking with Albus. 'Yes, he has been much more agreeable tonight. I think part of it is that he knows the twins won't dare try anything this time.'
Minerva smiled at Grace as well. 'The twins do seem to enjoy annoying him.' Minerva sent a quick glance at Grace's arms.
She knew Minerva was curious, as was everyone else who had seen the scars. Nobody had asked though, not even students. Grace guessed that the students refrained to avoid getting a month's worth of detentions like the Slytherins.
Severus was the only person who knew where the scars came from, but Grace had known she'd have to give of explanation when she forgone the glamours. Some of the staff had figured out that she'd lost family, mostly because of her depression last Easter.
Clearing her throat Grace looked at her two colleagues. 'The scars are from the night I lost my family. There was an explosion and I tried to get them out of the building they were in.' Grace felt her heart clench as she said this and wished she had a glass of firewhiskey rather than butterbeer.
Minerva and Aurora both got sad looks on their faces and murmured the usual sentiments.
Grace just shrugged. 'It was a while ago now. I just decided to stop hiding them since they don't bother me anymore.'
Minerva kept looking around as though expecting trouble from somewhere.
Grace laughed. 'Minerva relax for once would you? You should try letting your hair down now and again.'
To Grace's surprise Minerva actually blushed. 'I just don't want a repeat of last year, from someone other than the twins.
Aurora shook her head. 'I highly doubt anyone else has the nerve.' Aurora put her empty bottle down on a nearby table. 'Well I'll see you ladies later. I'm going to turn in for the night, I do so enjoy having a normal schedule during the holidays. Nothing better than a lie in.'
As Aurora left Grace took another sip of her own drink. 'I just love this, it's one of the nice things about being in this place.'
Minerva sipped her own drink. 'I imagine there are a lot of things that are different. Traveling through time would do that.' Minerva cast a curious look at her.
Grace snorted. 'Tell me about it. I don't even mind the bad differences though. I'm just glad for the opportunity to help.'
Minerva twitched a little. 'Indeed…er I don't suppose you'd be willing to share any details about that?'
Grace stopped just as she went to take another drink. What was wrong with Minerva? She seemed a little out of sorts. 'You know where I stand on that Minerva, I won't change my mind.'
'Of – of course, I apologise.' Minerva took a hurried sip of butterbeer.
Just then Severus came over and Minerva's eyes widen slightly…she actually looked worried.
'Grace are you ready to turn in or are we staying the whole night this time?' Severus looked down at her with a polite smile. He was less relaxed with her in front of others than when they were alone.
Just as Grace was about to say that they should go back to her room and have a proper drink out of the corner of her eye she saw Minerva's hair lighten slightly.
Grace struggled not to show her astonished reaction on her face. It couldn't be…could it?
Grace shook her head slightly. 'Er…actually I need Minerva's help with something. Do you mind if we just have breakfast in the kitchens tomorrow instead?'
Severus shook his head. 'Of course not.'
Grace grinned at him and kissed him lightly before grabbing Minerva's hand. 'Thank you Severus, come along Minerva.'
Grace pulled her companion from the Great Hall and quickly made her way towards the second floor girls bathroom. Ranting the whole way.
'I cannot believe you've done this! Honestly the things I've done to prevent this stuff…'
Beside her Hermione was rapidly looking more like herself. 'But how…?'
'Not a word Miss Granger.' Grace said in an icy tone. Of all the things…why on earth had they done it this time? There were no attacks for them to investigate. And clearly she had been the target for information this time.
Grace burst into Myrtle's bathroom making the three boys there jump and yell in surprise. Grace let go of Hermione and the girl quickly lifted the hem of the now too long robes and went to stand beside her friends.
'Hermione what - ?' Ron started to say.
'Be quiet Mr Weasley.' Grace started to pace up and down in front of the four second years. 'I cannot believe the four of you! Do you realise that if you had been found out all four of you would be expelled and on your way home?'
'B-but Prof – '
'Silence Mr Longbottom. You've broken at least half a dozen rules tonight. Not to mention whatever you did to get the ingredients. Also – ' Grace stopped and looked closer at the large robes Hermione was wearing. 'Are they actually Professor McGonagall's robes?'
Hermione nodded silently.
Grace rubbed her eyes in exasperation. And began muttering under her breath. 'Of they stole them, why wouldn't they? At least she wasn't a cat this time.' Grace broke off and looked back to the silent students. 'Right I want to know right now why you took such risks. What on earth did you want to know so badly that you risked expulsion?'
Harry cleared his throat. 'We were trying to find out about the future.'
Grace felt her jaw drop. Of course, Hermione had mentioned the time traveling…but… 'How the hell do you know about that?'
Harry gulped but continued. 'I uh…I overheard you and Dobby talking in the hospital wing.'
Grace realised Dobby's arrival must have woken him up after all. 'How much did you hear Mr Potter?'
The young boy looked really uncomfortable as did his friends. 'The whole conversation Professor, then I told the others the next day.'
Grace looked at the four of them again and turned away to lean on the sinks. This was brilliant. Out of all the things these four were going to go through, Grace wondered if anything was as dangerous as them knowing this. If Voldemort found out she was from the future…he would stop at nothing to get a hold of her. And if he knew that the children knew Voldemort could very well kidnap them to see what they knew, or to use against her.
'Professor?' Hermione said timidly.
Grace stood up and faced them again. She needed to scare them so they wouldn't try to find out anything else. 'I want the four of you to pay attention.' The four Gryffindors all stood straighter. 'This…information you now have is most likely the most dangerous piece of information that exists in our world.' Grace saw the looks of disbelief on their faces. 'Imagine for a moment that Voldemort – ' Grace ignored the flinches ' – found this out. What do you think he would do if he got a hold of me? Or one of you for that matter?'
All four faces in front of her went pale. Finally, they understood the dangers of what they'd done.
'Now it's late so Miss Granger, you will change into your own clothes and I will escort you all back to your common room.'
Ron gaped at her. 'You mean we're getting detention or anything?'
Grace just lifted an eyebrow at him. 'And how exactly would I explain the reason for the detentions or point loss?'
Ron blushed and Hermione quickly went into the cubicle to change.
Near the entrance to the Gryffindor common room Grace stopped and waited until they were all looking at her. 'Tomorrow the train does not leave until after lunch. Come to my quarters after breakfast and I will answer some of your questions. I would rather you get answers from me than cook up another scheme to find them.' Grace walked off without letting them respond. Grace sincerely hoped worse things weren't going to happen in an alternate way as well. For once though Grace agreed with Severus…bloody nosy Gryffindors.
Author Note – For those that don't know – Werther's Originals are a butter based sweet.