Written for Linlawless from the 2013 HGSS Promptfest! MUCH love to my alpha, Araeofsomething, and my beta, Liongirl. I submitted this by the skin of my teeth and only thanks to them.
This story is already completed, as always, and will be uploaded every few days as schedule permits. I just had to reformat after a BSOD, so bear with me.
Please feel free to leave a token of your thoughts. :)
Severus Snape was returning to the school with what could almost be considered a smile. His long black robes swished and billowed behind him in their familiar manner as his confident strides brought him closer to his destination.
With the recent fall of Voldemort and the immediate cessation of any of his duties pertaining to the Order of the Phoenix, this was shaping up to be the best summer he had ever had. He had no meetings to worry about, nothing to conceal, nowhere to be. The students were just now out of the castle, he himself returning from dropping them off to the train station personally. He didn't often attend the Leaving, but this time he wanted to see with his own eyes all the little children getting on the train to Somewhere Not Here.
He was almost tempted to wave.
Potter was out of the castle for good and had taken his friends with him. Longbottom was even gone.
Oh, that felt good to say. Longbottom. Was. Gone. He rolled it around a few times in his mind, and it just got better each time. Like a fine wine, he savored it.
No Potter. No Granger. No Malfoy. No Dumbledore, rest his soul. No Voldemort. No. Bloody. Weasleys.
Just Severus Snape, his potions, and his solitude. The scant others in the castle were easily avoidable.
He stopped in his tracks with an almost audible squeal of his boots against the stone. Whipping around in spectacular fashion, he glared at the speaker in a curious way, as if determining if this phantasm was real.
"Minerva's tartan knickers," Snape said. "What in the bloody hell are you doing here?"
Hermione Granger simply paused and held up the book she had in her hands for closer inspection. "I'm staying on at the castle to research the next edition of Hogwarts: A History. I've written the publisher on several occasions, and they've agreed to let me expand some sections that are sorely lacking. Why, in fact, the section pertaining to rules against—"
"Forget I asked, Miss Granger," he interrupted, irritated. "I wouldn't want you to mistakenly think I gave a niffler's left foot about why you are here. I simply figured this was the part of the nightmare where I wake in terror."
Hermione stood and watched as her ex-professor continued his stride down the hall, a little quicker this time. As if on impulse, she hollered after him, "Neville will be here, too!" which caused him to kick the wall sharply and yell something profane.
Poppy didn't even ask why he needed three toes mended.
Hermione Granger settled into a new routine much quicker than she'd expected. While it was true she was staying somewhere familiar, she had doubted it would feel the same without the hum of activity normally surrounding the castle.
It was only now, a few weeks after term, that the dust finally settled, and she could sort out just what exactly had happened that ended the final war.
Hermione had been revising for Arithmancy a few weeks before the end of term when Harry suddenly flew into the common room with the news that tonight was the night they would confront Voldemort. Quickly and efficiently, they gathered the troops. In what now seemed to be a very short confrontation, Voldemort had been eradicated.
As far as she could figure, Hermione woke up that very next morning to people asking her what was next for the famous trio. Questions shot out from everywhere. Students, staff, reporters, even her great aunt Blanche sent her a letter demanding to know what was to become of her future.
While the boys were off to find fame and fortune, Hermione could only ponder doing what she had always done. She wanted to continue learning and expanding her magical education. She also wanted to do something tangible, something that would benefit the populace. Many things surfaced as possible options, but when she received the letter about drafting the next edition of Hogwarts: A History, she knew it would allow her to do another thing she had always done.
Spend a sunny afternoon in the library, alone, with nothing but the books and the dust bunnies for company.
Yes, that sounded like a splendid option, and she'd found herself responding before the owl had finished his treat.
Now, Hermione lay awake in the middle of a huge bed, a couple of weeks into July, and she realized how much she had come to miss the peace and serenity of her very own room.
Company was not hard to find in the castle if she chose to seek it out. Some of the professors were here, including Headmistress McGonagall, and Neville was as well. Many of her friends sent her owls inviting her to the Burrow or Diagon Alley if she wanted to escape for a while. However, Hermione found that she had missed having herself for company and doing the things she wanted to do when she wanted to do them.
And as long as she avoided Professor Snape, she could pretty much do as she pleased.
Right now, she wanted to go for a stroll.
Dressing in some cotton shorts and a comfortable shirt, Hermione poked her nose into a few parts of the castle she had yet to visit.
It was, after all, part of her job now to know each nook and cranny.
As hallway after hallway passed underneath her feet, she pondered the acerbic man who had been once her instructor.
Hermione had been shocked at her reception upon seeing him in the castle on her way back from the train station. She had never expected he would be so, well, tetchy. In the back of her mind, she had always assumed that his attitude had been part of an act. No one could really be that disagreeable, she thought.
Obviously, she was wrong.
After their initial meeting, he treated her as though he was going to take a pound of flesh out of her for breaking his toes or just avoiding her like she was a dungbomb. If he saw her in the hallway, he would backtrack. If she entered the Great Hall, he would leave. It wasn't long before they found a rhythm to their day that would ensure the smallests mount of contact possible between the professor and his ex-students.
And that was nothing compared to the way he was treating Neville. Hermione would not be surprised to find Professor Snape throwing up the sign of the cross or other such nonsense as though he could ward himself against the supposed evil that was Neville Longbottom.
Heaving a sigh, Hermione continued her path down the unfamiliar corridors. She was trying to estimate where she was in the architecture when something caught her eye.
Further down the hall was a sliver of sunlight illuminating the smooth polished stones. The arched doorway was just barely cracked, and now that she listened, Hermione could hear…
As she moved close, the soft tinkling assured her that it was indeed what she was hearing.
Standing in front of the tall door, the torches were high enough that she could read a phrase chiseled above the frame.
Brevis ipsa vita est sed malis fit longior
Her brain automatically translated: Our life is short but is made longer by misfortunes.
Odd, she thought, eyeing the opened passage. Hermione didn't touch the door but cast a simple magic detection spell on the frame. When nothing appeared, she opened the door just a sliver more so that she could see into the room beyond.
But it wasn't a room at all. In fact, a courtyard garden awaited her. The sun shone over the high walls of the castle and everywhere there was plant life. Flowers grew up the walls, snaking around and over the stones. Butterflies fluttered from flower to flower, and a few birds chirruped high in a tree.
Intrigued, naturally, Hermione opened the door the rest of the way and walked inside the courtyard. As was becoming her habit, she took out a square of parchment, brought it back to normal size, circled the possible location of the courtyard, shrunk it, and put it back into her pocket. She looked all around her, noting the vegetation. Judging by the lack of disturbance, this was a tended but not often frequented garden. Strolling on the path around the square, Hermione noted a few benches and some small statues before winding her way around to the source of the water.
A fountain dominated the center of the area. Its three large bowls were arranged in tiered fashion. Hermione was surprised to note that they just hovered above each other, with no visible support. How the water got from the bottom to the top she wondered as she watched it fall like rain into the basin below.
Lured by the comforting and musical tinkle, Hermione gravitated over to the edge of the large fountain before sitting on the rim and letting her fingers trail through the cool water. A glint beneath the surface caught her eye, and she noticed there were coins covering the bottom of the pool of water. It reminded her of the large fountain in the park by her home where she would make wishes and toss in pennies, believing in the childhood magic.
As she recalled these fond memories, one of the coins stood out. It was a large gold galleon and seemed newer than the rest as it was shiny in the sunlight with no tarnish. Hermione snagged the coin before she thought twice, turning it over in her hands.
With a startled breath, she read the inscription:
Harry Potter, May 2nd 1999, I wish Voldemort was defeated. For Good.
But that's…that was her Harry Potter! And that was the night of the last battle!
Now regarding the fountain with wide eyes and trepidation, she scooped out a few more coins. The vast majority were people she didn't know, asking for all sorts of things, and some were from centuries in the past. A new broom for Betelgeuse Black, reconciliation for Maris Sturkle, or a Transfiguration O for Tim Timmersby. Most of the wishes were both timeless and faceless to Hermione. But a few were people she recognized.
These coins she laid out on the stone edge after cleaning them to shiny new. It was a bit disconcerting and she felt guilty, being able to just pick up a coin and see someone's innermost desire.
But she couldn't help reaching for more coins.
Hermione could reach her hand in as far as it would go and still there was no bottom, though it seemed the newer coins were on top, which made sense to her rational mind.
She sorted through another handful —or maybe five —before finally tearing herself away. She had work to do today, after all, and it wasn't as if she couldn't come back.
Hermione pocketed a few of the coins to look into later before making her way back through to the library. She saw no one on her trek except a startled Snape who suddenly had a powerful urge to go to the greenhouses instead of the library.
Shaking her head, she entered the quiet parchment monolith, inhaling the familiar scent of dust and sunshine before setting down her bag and her current research.
However, the section of school bylaws from the 1400s was not where she ended up.
Hermione found herself flipping through books about the school's floor plan, and, coming up empty, she then turned to Sculptures of Hogwarts. With still nothing to show, she found a few books on legends of the school.
Soon she found it and smacked herself for not looking here first. This was a book she had read before, when she was looking for the basilisk in her second year, before she knew it was a basilisk she was looking for.
So happily was she looking through the pertinent information, she missed the black shadow enter the annex of the library.
Professor Snape sorely needed that book.
He had been hoping Granger would just drop it off and go, but no. Things could not be that simple. From the corner of the room, he watched as she returned the book in question and then proceeded to flit around the entire damn library before settling in not two rows away from where he needed to be.
For there only being two students in the castle, they managed to be everywhere. When he had seen Granger heading toward his destination earlier, he decided that picking up the fresh herbs from Professor Sprout really was a much better way to spend his afternoon. But no sooner had he reached the greenhouse when he heard Longbottom ask some idiotic question about rosewood.
Professor Snape was then in a bind.
Granger or Longbottom.
Longbottom or Granger.
With a defeated sigh, he had headed back into the castle. He could at least attempt to avoid Granger. There would be no escaping Longbottom. Granger was usually too engrossed in a book to notice Armageddon.
And so it was that he found himself slinking around the library he had known for more than twenty years, all to avoid a student.
He wasn't slinking, he told himself. He was avoiding unnecessary interruptions. It was efficiency. That was all.
Doubling back on his tracks, he found the correct row and deftly moved between the shadows to his goal.
While it was true that Hermione could become pretty unaware of the outside world with a book in front of her, she was not blind to the slinking of her professor. Rolling her eyes, she continued to read.
…The Fountain of Erised —Hermione rolled her eyes again at the not-so-clever title—was made by the same wizards who crafted the mirror of the same name. The origins themselves are lost, but the objects still remain. Like the mirror, the fountain reflects a person's innermost desire. However, the fountain exists to reflect that desire unto another person. Within the magical waters, coins will have an inscription of the person, the date and the wish. The denomination of the coin signifies the depth of desire attached to each wish. One must truly be desperate to obtain a gold Galleon.
Harry, she thought.
A frown was all that showed of her sadness for her friend as she continued to read.
The Fountain of Erised remains hidden from most, especially those who search for it. It can only be found by those whose desire to help others equals the desire of those casting wishes. One must be solely focused on the needs of their brethren, and not themselves, to find the source of this powerful magic enabling them to be a Godparent.
Hermione was fascinated by what she had learned. It was quite possible she had found a repository of every wish ever made in Hogwarts.
Now, she just had to figure out what do with it.
"Do you think I should focus on bylaws of the fifteenth century first or jump right to the major revision in the sixteenth, Professor?"
The shadow behind the bookshelf gave a small twitch.
Professor Snape smoothly emerged as though he were merely waiting, impatiently, for her question. "I suggest the latter, Miss Granger, for if you wish to retain this book, I'm afraid you will find it impossible."
The book snapped smartly shut in his hands. "Now you must go and annoy someone else. I do not wish to spend my summer answering the questions of stupid little girls who cannot do the work for themselves."
Again, he turned and left the room with the small leather book in hand. With Madam Pince not manning the library in the summer, there was no need to check out.
With an exasperated exhale, Hermione wondered if there was anything she could do to make him not think of her as an annoying little know-it-all. But, considering she was a bossy little know-it-all, she assumed not. If she could get him to stop skirting her like the plague, she'd be happy.
Taking the book she had found with her —thoroughly appreciating the lack of the stern matron —she headed up to the Great Hall to grab a bite to eat.
Since the castle was so empty, people pretty much came and went as they pleased when it came to meal times. Headmistress McGonagall and Professor Flitwick would take their meals at the same times as they would normally during the school year. Firenze was spending the summer in the forest, and many of the professors were at their summer homes as well. In fact, Hermione wasn't sure why Professor Snape was still here.
Maybe the castle just felt more like home to him than his actual one. Perhaps something happened to it during the war. She wasn't sure. But either way, it ranked low on her list of priorities for the moment. She had much more interesting things to figure out right now than the eccentricities of her bitter former professor.
With no one in the Great Hall —Neville must be running late on their set appointment to eat together —she pulled out the coins and the book, laying the coins in a line above her sandwich and juice.
So many. There were just so many coins in that fountain. How long had some lain there? As long as Hogwarts itself had been standing? How come no one had told her of this fountain before?
She picked up one of the coins and rolled it around in her hand, the cool weight offering an anchor to her thoughts. Most of these she knew that no one could grant but Fate itself. Others, however…
She did have a lot of time on her hands, after all. One couldn't spend all day, every day in the library. Only Neville was around to offer a distraction, and he was more of, well, just a distraction.
The coins on the table seemed to stare back at her.
She made up her mind.
And that was how Hermione Granger came to be Fairy GodHermione.