Chapter 5 : Chapter 5
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"Good morning," she said, going over and giving him a kiss, then taking her seat.
"Good morning, love," he said. "So, today is your big staff meeting. Are you ready for it?"
"I'm as ready as I will ever be. Remus will be picking me up here at nine." She took a bun, took a small bite out of it, and then swallowed. "You wouldn't believe the dreams I had last night. All good, of course," she said with a smile, pouring herself a cup of tea. "How did you sleep?"
"Very well," Ron said with a smile. "And of course, being with you makes everything so much better."
"Same here, Ron." She reached over and took his hand. "And my ring is beautiful. I couldn't have imagined a more beautiful ring."
Ron twined his fingers with Hermione's, turned her hand over, brought their joined hands to his lips, and kissed the inside of her wrist. "And I couldn't imagine a more beautiful woman." He leaned over and gave her a chaste kiss on the lips.
Hermione blushed as she smiled at him. "You are such a charmer, Mr Weasley. And a handsome one at that."
"And I'm sure that's why you love me, Miss Granger."
"Of course. Well, that and your taut body," she said, giving him a scandalous wink. "But that's something to get into at a later time."
Ron blinked as a blush spread across his face. They heard a knocking on the door before he could respond. "Oh," he said. "Is it time already?"
"Yes, I guess it is," Hermione said, standing up. "I should go brush my teeth, but then I'll be out. Do you want to let him in?"
"All right," Ron said as he stood up and went to the door. "Ah, Remus, right on time. Please do come in."
Remus smiled as they shook hands. "Good morning, Ron," he said. "I assume Hermione is not ready yet?"
"Not yet, but she'll be down shortly," Ron said. "Would you like a cup of tea?"
"No thanks," Remus said. "We should be going soon, as Minerva has called a staff meeting at ten."
At that moment, Hermione came down the steps and gave Remus a smile. "Good morning, Remus. How are you doing this morning?"
"Quite well," Remus said. "Are you excited about today?"
"Excited and a little nervous. At least you don't have to travel on the train like you did in our third year." Hermione looked at her watch and then at Remus. "I guess we should get going." Going over to Ron, she gave him a hug and a kiss. "I'll be back later, probably this afternoon. Why don't you go for a flight? It looks like perfect flying weather outside."
"Indeed," Ron said as he hugged and kissed her back. "But I should be getting into work. Harry might wonder what is keeping me if I don't turn up soon."
"True. Well, it's almost the weekend, so perhaps the weather will be nice then. Have a good day and be careful, okay?"
Ron smiled. "You take good care of me, love," he said. "Let me know how the meeting went." He gave Hermione a goodbye kiss. "Remus, I'm leaving her in your capable hands. Don't let her get too carried away," he said with a wink.
Hermione and Remus both laughed and then headed out the door.
"He can be completely nutters sometimes, but I would never have it any other way. I imagine you feel the same way about Tonks' clumsiness."
Remus smiled. "I do indeed," he said, a note of fondness in his voice. "Tonks just wouldn't be Tonks without her running into the occasional glass door."
"It's as much a part of her as her ability to morph," Hermione agreed. They started walking up High Street and toward Hogwarts. "I never imagined that I would get to teach alongside you."
"Neither did I," Remus admitted. "But it will be an honour I will cherish forever and ever." He grinned at her mischievously.
Hermione rolled her eyes at him and laughed. "You are as nutters as Ron, you know that?"
Remus' eyes widened, and he pressed his hand to his heart. "No, really? I had absolutely no idea," he said in mock indignation.
Hermione smiled to herself and thought how nice it was to see Remus joking. Everyone had been so happy to know that Remus and Tonks had both survived the war, despite their serious injuries.
"So, what night do you have for patrol? I'm on Wednesday nights," she said, changing the subject.
"I believe I'm on for Thursdays," Remus replied. "Take some comfort that you had already left by the time the current seventh years were firsties. At least then they'll take you seriously when you try to take House points from them."
"Yes, I am thankful for that. Can you imagine their reactions if it had overlapped?" Hermione looked up and realised that they had come to the gates of Hogwarts.
Remus noticed Hermione's reaction and placed his hand on her shoulder. "It's still as majestic as ever," he said. "So much has happened over the years, but despite it all, life goes on." He touched the gate, and it opened of its own accord. "Shall we? After you, Hermione."
They made their way through the gates, up the steps, and through the doors to Hogwarts. "Where is the meeting usually held? In the Great Hall or in the staff room?"
"Under Albus, it was either in his office or in the staff room," Remus answered. "I believe Minerva mentioned the staff room for today's meeting."
They made their way to the staff room. As they entered the long paneled room, they noticed the professors already present and seated in the various mismatched dark wooden chairs. Neville waved his hand at Remus and Hermione to get their attention and gestured to them to take the two chairs next to him.
"Remus, Hermione, so nice to see you," Neville said as he handed cups of tea to them.
"It's nice to see you too, Neville," Hermione said, putting down her cup of tea and giving him a hug. "How is Hannah doing?"
"She's doing well," Neville said. "Business is going very well at the Leaky, and she's always busy. How are Ron and Harry?"
"Harry is doing well. We just saw them last night, and they are very excited about the baby. The Weasley family is growing by leaps and bounds," she said with a grin, holding out her left hand.
Neville's eyes widened as he noticed the ring glistening on her finger. "Hermione," he whispered, "he finally did it. Ron's finally proposed."
"Yes, he did," Hermione said with a grin. "And we're very happy."
"Congratulations!" Neville exclaimed as Minerva cleared her throat and called the meeting to order.
"Thanks," Hermione whispered back. "We can talk after the meeting."
"Thank you, everyone, for joining me. It looks as if we are all here..."
Just then the door opened, and Hermione gasped as the figure stepped in. She felt the room spinning, and then darkness engulfed her.
Severus Snape walked into the staff room and scowled when he noticed Remus and Hermione sitting next to Neville. He had never thought he'd ever see any of these people ever again. But then again, he had never expected to survive the war. And when he had found himself unexpectedly alive after having been bitten by that thrice-damned snake, the last place he'd ever expect to find himself was back at Hogwarts. In the past, he had successfully resisted Minerva's pleas for him to return to Hogwarts, but for some inexplicable reason, he had decided to accept her offer to return after she had promised an unlimited supply of potions supplies and other ingredients, and the chance to continue his research unimpeded in exchange for his time teaching.
He frowned as he realised he would be surrounded by Gryffindors. It would be trying enough to deal with the constant flow of dunderheads in his Potions classes. Adding the new Gryffindors to the staff list would add to his unpleasant-things-to-deal-with list. He swept past everyone and took a chair in the farthest corner of the room. A commotion brought his attention back to the centre of the room where he noticed Remus, Neville, and Poppy Pomfrey tending to Hermione.
"She'll be fine," Poppy said. "It looks like she's just fainted." She cast a diagnostic charm over Hermione, and when she was satisfied the readings were stable, she pointed her wand at Hermione and muttered, "Enervate."
"Hermione," Poppy said, "can you hear me?"
Hermione heard Poppy's voice and slowly opened her eyes. "I can hear you," she said quietly. "I just... didn't expect to see him."
Poppy frowned at Hermione. "Him?" she asked. "To whom are you referring?"
Hermione's eyes drifted over to Severus. "I saw him die..."
"I must admit that I am surprised as well," Remus said quietly, looking at Severus.
"He's most certainly not dead," Poppy said briskly. "He's been with us for the past seven years."
"Seven years?" Neville asked. "But I've been here for at least three years, and this is the first I'm seeing of him."
Poppy shook her head. "No," she explained, "I meant that he has been alive and hopefully well for the past seven years. I believe he's been doing some private research when Minerva begged him to return here and take the Potions classes."
"If Professor Granger is feeling better, perhaps we can continue the meeting," Minerva said in a kind but stern voice.
"Yes, I'm okay," Hermione replied, sitting up a bit straighter in her chair. She picked up her cup of tea and took a couple of sips out of it, hoping it would raise her blood sugar a bit. The tea did make her feel better, and she gave Minerva a smile.
"As I was saying, thank you for attending this meeting. I would like to welcome Severus Snape and Remus Lupin back on staff as our Potions and Defence Against the Dark Arts professors, and welcome Hermione Granger as our new Transfiguration professor."
Everyone grew quiet as Minerva mentioned Snape's name. They all turned their heads to the corner where he was sitting. Severus very slightly inclined his head in acknowledgement, but otherwise made no other indication to the others.
Minerva took out a stack of parchments from a pocket in her robes and tapped her wand against the stack, which caused the parchments to float toward the other staff members.
"Here are your timetables," she said. "Please make a note of your patrolling nights. Also, please make a note of Hogsmeade weekends. I expect all staff members to be on duty at those times.
"With the retirements of Horace Slughorn and Clarence Haskell, it necessitates the need to assign new Heads of House for both Slytherin and Gryffindor. Severus will resume his position as Head of Slytherin House, and Remus, you will now be Head of Gryffindor House."
Both Remus and Severus acknowledged Minerva with a nod.
Minerva distributed more parchment to the Heads of Houses.
"Here is the list of prefects for each House," she said. "Also, please note Victoria Gershenson of Ravenclaw and Stephen Bizzell of Slytherin are our Head Girl and Head Boy this year."
There was more mumbling amongst the staff before Minerva cleared her throat.
"Please don't forget your duties. I would also like copies of your syllabi by the end of the day today, which you may send by Floo at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time. We shall meet again in one month's time. Off you go."
Hermione turned to Neville. "It's nice to be working with you." She quietly thought how proud she was of him, of how far he had come since they had met in their first year.
Neville smiled. "It'll be fun," he said. "The students have generally been very good, and they've enjoyed my classes. I'm sure you'll do just fine."
"You were always so good in Herbology. It wasn't a surprise that you were chosen as Professor Sprout's replacement."
Neville blushed. "Thanks, Hermione," he said. He frowned and shook his head. "I just can't believe Snape is still alive though. And blimey, he's going to be teaching with us! I don't know if I can handle that!"
Hermione put her hand on Neville's arm. "Do you remember our third year, Neville? How you pictured him in your gran's clothing?"
"I remember that. I quite enjoyed that class," Remus said with a mischievous smile.
"Neville, he is not your professor anymore. He is your colleague, and we are all on even standing. If you show him respect, he will show the same to you." Hermione gave Neville an encouraging smile.
Neville sighed as a pained expression crossed his face. "I suppose," he said. "But still, he scares me. I know I'll be so nervous when he's around."
"Neville," Remus said, "if you can wield the Sword of Gryffindor and decapitate Nagini, surely you can face Severus." He put his arm around Neville's shoulders. "And besides," he added, "considering how he nearly died, I would think Severus would be grateful to you for killing that ruddy snake."
Neville sighed as he nodded. "I suppose so," he said quietly.
"The three of us, Harry, Ron and I, saw his body in the Shrieking Shack. There was so much blood," she said with a shudder. "I have never been afraid of him. I was shocked when I saw that he was alive, and that is why I fainted. But although I know that I was in the minority, I enjoyed his classes very much, even though he clearly did not like us Gryffindors."
Remus gently shook his head. "Keep in mind he was deep under cover," he said. "He could not afford to show favouritism to any other House but his own, and Merlin forbid if he were to compliment a Muggle-born and the child of a Death Eater were to hear that and report back to his or her parents. I didn't appreciate what a difficult role he had back then, but then again, I'm sure the two of you have heard about my not-so-friendly past with Severus."
Neville and Hermione nodded.
"Severus has never been an easy man to get along with," Remus continued. "Lily was the only person I knew who truly knew him before he fell into bad influences within Slytherin House. Give him a chance, but don't take any vitriol from him personally."
"I won't," Hermione said with a smile. "My skin is as thick as it was while I was at Hogwarts and thicker. One thing that the final battle taught me is not to sweat the small stuff. Even Ron has matured greatly since our time at Hogwarts."
"As have we all," Neville said.
Severus did not linger after Minerva dismissed the staff. He immediately left the staff room and swept down to his private quarters in the dungeons, his black robes billowing dramatically behind him. When he entered his quarters, he removed his teaching robes and sank into his settee in front of the fire. He massaged his head as he Summoned a glass and a bottle of Firewhisky. After pouring a generous measure into his glass, he took a sip and reflected on the past few months. He had not been entirely pleased to see Minerva make her annual trip to Spinner's End. He’d known she was going to try to convince him to return to Hogwarts. It had been the last thing he wanted to do, as there were too many bad memories associated with Hogwarts. Never mind that for a long time, Hogwarts had been the only home he’d known. He was not sure what had induced him to accept her offer this year. He had never been enamoured of teaching, but it was a stable source of income for him, plus the idea of being able to do research on an unlimited budget was highly appealing.
He had not been all that happy to see the knot of Gryffindors in the staff room, however. He had become accustomed to working alongside Remus during his first stint as Defence professor; however, the thought of working alongside Longbottom and Granger was a bit distasteful. Longbottom had been a dismal student, and Severus was exceedingly surprised to see him on staff. Granger was nothing but a book-quoting parrot, and if she was as irritating as an adult as she had been as a child, this would be a very long year indeed.
He downed the rest of his drink and threw the glass at the fireplace where it shattered into many pieces. He put his head in his hand and thought he truly must have been mad for thinking he could return to Hogwarts and function as a normal staff member. Only time would tell just how his relationship with the others would turn out.
It was fifteen minutes after they had been dismissed when Hermione stood up and gathered her papers that she had been given. "I believe I'll go turn in my syllabus and check once more to make sure everything is set; then I'll be heading home. I live right in Hogsmeade, so I won't be staying here at the castle," she said to Neville. "I shall see the two of you tomorrow."
She left the staff room and made her way to the office that had once belonged to Dumbledore. She looked on the sheet that she had been given and found the password to the gargoyle.
The gargoyle turned and allowed her access to the stairway. It wasn't long before she stood outside the office and knocked on the door.
"Come in, Hermione."
She opened the door and smiled at the older witch as she entered. "I brought you my syllabus."
"I wondered how long it would be before I saw you," Minerva said, accepting it from her.
"I want to thank you again for giving me this opportunity."
"I remember how good a student you were, and how you encouraged Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter to do their work. You were one of my very best students, and I knew that one day I would offer you this position if I were still alive."
Hermione blushed slightly, knowing that a compliment from Minerva McGonagall was rare. "Thank you. Well, I will leave you to your work." Hermione turned away from the desk and started toward the door.
"One moment, Hermione," Minerva said sternly but with a hint of a smile in her voice. "I believe you have forgotten something."
Hermione turned back, confused. "Have I?"
"Yes. Don't you have some news to share?"
Hermione laughed. "Yes, I do. Ron proposed last night." She held out her hand to show her supervisor. "I believe we are planning a summer wedding."
"Congratulations. I always had a feeling about the two of you."
Ron Apparated into the sitting room as he cried out, "Oi, 'Mione! I'm home!" He listened carefully and heard the sloshing of water coming from the bathroom. He smiled as he realised she was upstairs, bathing. A couple of thoughts sprang immediately to his mind: he could join Hermione in the bath or he could be nice and put the kettle on for tea. The Ron-that-was would probably have used a vanishing spell to remove all his clothes and joined her. However, he thought it would be nice to have a cuppa after a relaxing bath. Kettle it is, he thought as he shuffled off to the kitchen.
He had the tea and a tray full of tea sandwiches he brought from the office ready by the time Hermione appeared in the sitting room, refreshed after her bath. He stood up, gave her a hug and a kiss, and greeted her, "Hullo, love. How was the meeting?"
"Hi, Ron," she said, returning his affectionate embrace. "It went well on the whole, but it was not without its surprises." She sat down and took a cup of tea off of the tray. "You probably should sit down before I tell you this." She knew that he was going to be as surprised as she had been.
Ron sat down. "Okay, love," he said. "What news have you to tell me?"
She took a sip of tea and a deep breath before saying, "Severus Snape is alive, and he is teaching Potions again at Hogwarts."
Ron's mouth dropped. He stared incredulously at Hermione. "Pull the other one," he said. "He is not alive! We saw him die!"
"We thought we saw him die. But we also thought Remus and Tonks were dead, remember? Apparently, he has been in hiding all this time, doing research. I, of course, made a spectacle of myself. I am quite certain that everyone is wondering what Minerva was thinking when she hired me."
Ron raised his eyebrows. "What do you mean 'made a spectacle of yourself'? What happened?"
"I fainted. I saw a man I thought was dead walk into the staff room, and I fainted." Hermione blushed furiously at the memory. "Poppy checked me over, and there wasn't anything wrong that she could find. I think it was simply the shock."
"Honestly, 'Mione," Ron said, balling his hands into fists, "if I hear that greasy git does anything to you, I swear, he'll be hexed six ways to Sunday."
"He won't do anything to me," she assured him. "We are all staff, we are all equal. I am no longer the insufferable know-it-all student that he had so many years ago. I know that Neville is nervous, though. Of course, Severus always made him nervous. I just reminded him of our third year, and I think that helped him a bit."
"Severus?" Ron asked, his voice rising up an octave. "You call him Severus?"
Hermione looked confusedly at Ron. "Yes, like I call Remus Remus, Neville Neville, Minerva Minerva, Filius Filius, and every other teacher by their first name." She thought for a moment. "Well, I didn't actually call him anything. He came into the meeting late and left as soon as we were dismissed."
"But this is Snape, the bat of the dungeons, we're talking about!" Ron exclaimed. "He was horrid to us when we were in school. And what he did to poor Neville! How can you see him as anything but that now?"
"Ron, even Remus was acting civilly towards him." She told Ron what Remus had said to both her and Neville. "You remember what Harry had told us about the memories that he had seen."
Ron sighed. "I know, 'Mione," he said, "but I still can't get over how badly he treated us. But mark my words – he'll do something that'll make you remember what an evil git he is, and I don't care if he was trying to save Harry's arse all that time."
Hermione mentally shook her head at Ron. Deciding to change the subject, she took a sandwich. "Thanks for bringing home these sandwiches. Why don't we go over on the settee and enjoy the rest of our night together?"
Ron smiled as he took her hand. "I'd like that," he said.
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