Continuing Tales

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 12 of 23

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Still 'Miss Hermione Granger,' said a bespectacled old wizard peering at a sheet of parchment in front of him, 'welcome to St. Mungo's. Please, sit down.'

'Thank you, Mr. Godolphin; I'm very happy to be here.'

Hermione took a seat in front of the large desk that dominated the small, circular room. She smoothed down her robes and willed her nerves away. There was nothing to be worried about.

'You have an impressive C.V., Miss Granger. Most applicants come to us after doing a few years in the private Potions industry, which can be limited. But you chose to undertake an apprenticeship—they are not as popular as they once were. So many are so eager to get straight out into the irresistible world of work—and money of course.' He smiled broadly at her.

'I enjoy research, and so an apprenticeship seemed the best option,' she explained simply.

'An apprenticeship with Severus Snape, no less—you must be very brave.' His smile became a toothy grin.

Hermione smiled weakly. 'Perhaps.'

'I have no doubt that you must have learnt a great deal from him; his students usually are very competent. I don't know the man personally, although his reputation is very well known to me. I confess, therefore, to being interested as to how your apprenticeship came about?'

'Oh, well...' Hermione cleared her throat. 'I just asked him, you see, and um, at first he was rather reluctant. He'd never taken on an apprentice before, but I persisted, and in the end he agreed. Possibly the Headmistress had something to do with that.' She quirked her lips self-consciously.

Godolphin chuckled quietly. 'I see. Well, this is all immaterial of course—we want to know if you are right for this job! Your credentials appear sound, but let's hear a little about what you have been working on during your apprenticeship, Miss Granger.'

Hermione felt herself relax; this was comfortable territory.


As far as interviews went, Hermione felt that it had gone well. She didn't think there was anything else she could have done to improve her chances of acquiring the job—it was up to them to decide whether she was worthy of it. She'd left with the assurance that she would be informed of their decision within a week.

She hadn't really given much thought as to what she would do if she was unsuccessful. She supposed she'd have to cross that bridge when she came to it, and, well, there was always Slug and Jigger's.

Hermione shuddered.

She felt a piece of parchment rustling inside her robes as she walked, and closed her hand around it. Ron had sent her a brief note, wishing her the best of luck for the interview. It had been a pleasant surprise, and she appreciated the sentiment.

Ginny had Flooed sending her and Harry's best wishes. Her parents had Owled the day before. McGonagall had given her a reassuring pat on the shoulder as she'd left the castle, and Hagrid had given her a 'good luck' rock cake he'd made for her to, theoretically, munch on. In reality, it was untouched in her pocket, but it was the thought that counted.

The person who perhaps should be most interested in seeing her succeed, considering the work he had put in himself, had said nothing to her. He'd disappeared early from breakfast, and that had been that.

She wouldn't have even minded a sardonic expression of good luck, but no, it would seem he could not give a fig. Hermione felt sure that he would have wished her good luck in the past, but his recent behaviour was just... odd.

He seemed to have stepped back several paces, and she, unsure of what to do, had done the same. It hadn't been difficult; by removing her from his office, she hardly ever saw him. What was she supposed to do about it? Demand to know why things had suddenly changed? As if he would even admit that there was anything to change in the first place!

Ugh, it annoyed her to no end.

But maybe it was for the best. She would be leaving soon, and it would be a lot easier for her to go with the knowledge that she was wasting her thoughts on him. She missed their banter, though. She found potion making to be far less enjoyable when she was not being kept on her toes.

Hermione had wracked her brains for a reason why he would act in such a way. Had she offended him? It was unlikely. Probably, it was simply a case of her having more invested in their relationship than he did. It was likely that he saw no difference in their interaction. At the end of the day, she was just his apprentice; he had more important things with which to occupy himself.

Rounding a corner onto the fourth floor, she pulled up short when she saw the object of her thoughts standing close by. Minerva McGonagall was standing next to him, and they were both staring out of a large, arched window. Hermione stepped back around the corner, out of sight, and leaned heavily against the stone wall. She didn't want to face either of them right now.

It was as she was about to retrace her steps that she heard the Headmistress speak, and the sound carried to where she stood.

'I wonder when Miss Granger will be back. I hope she got on well at St. Mungo's.'

Hermione froze to the spot. She really should leave, she decided, but...

'I'm sure it was fine,' was the flat response of the Potions master, and Hermione had to strain her ears to pick up his low tones.

'No doubt,' agreed McGonagall confidently. 'She is such a lovely girl, don't you think?'

Hermione held her breath.

Snape made a noise of what sounded like disdain in his throat. 'What does loveliness have to do with anything?'

'Come, now, Severus. You may be a cold logician at times, but surely even you can appreciate the softer qualities when you see them?'

'Why should I? They mean nothing.' Hermione could imagine the sneer upon his face.

'You may think so, but I would have to disagree. In Miss Granger's case, they are enhanced simply because she is unaware of the charms she possesses.'

'Do all women think in such flowery terms?' Snape goaded. 'Or is it just you?'

McGonagall appeared to ignore him. 'You will miss having her around when she leaves; I know you will.'

'If you mean that I have got used to having her underfoot, well, I am sure I will find it no hard task to readjust to my former existence.'

'She has seemed a little down, lately.'

Hermione looked at her hands. Had she really been so obviously disheartened this week that people had noticed? She didn't like the thought of that one bit. Note to self—cheer up!

Snape remained silent.

'I hear that you managed to dispel the curse completely,' McGonagall observed.

'Well, by now, it was sufficiently weak enough to respond to a counter-curse.'

'No one knew anything much about the curse—how did you find a counter-curse that would work?'

Snape seemed to hesitate for a moment. 'Are you quite sure you wish to know?'

McGonagall was firm. 'Quite sure, Severus.'

'Let us go somewhere a little more private, then. I'd rather not discuss it here.'

Hermione almost panicked when she realised they might see her. But when she heard their footsteps set off in the opposite direction, she sighed with relief.

She'd never previously considered where he might have got the counter-curse from. She'd assumed, perhaps naively, that because the curse was weak, he'd been able to use any generic spell. Clearly, though, it did matter where he'd got it from; otherwise, what was the point of the secrecy?

Should she go up to him and demand to know what spell he had used? She had a right to, didn't she? It was her body he'd practised it on.

Merlin, she should have asked at the time! Instead, she'd been perfectly happy to let him cast random magic on her. But then, that was the point, surely? She trusted him; did it really matter where he'd found the counter-curse? His judgement was sound, wasn't it?

Regardless, it was all academic now, but her curiosity would be infuriated for some time.


Hermione had not entered the staff room all week, unsure of whether she would be welcome to take up her usual position next to the Potions master. It was not that he could have done anything to stop her, but she did not want to impose. As such, she'd generally opted to avoid having to make the decision, and thus she stayed away from the place.

Following her day at St. Mungo's, and overhearing that oblique conversation between Snape and McGonagall, Hermione found she would like to make a stand, so to speak. Why should she have to feel awkward? She had as much right to go in the staff room, and if he wanted to ignore her, then fine. She would simply rise above it from now on.

As soon as she entered, McGonagall spotted her.

'Hermione! Tell me how it went today. All right, I hope?'

Hermione crossed over to the Headmistress and spoke with her quietly. Out of the corner of her eye, she spied the Potions master sitting at the other end of the room, a mug of tea in hand. It was only while she was halfway through explaining what they'd asked her during the interview that she realised he'd got up and left.

Fighting the urge to groan out loud, she wrapped up her conversation with McGonagall as soon as she could without seeming rude, and then left with the excuse of heading to the kitchens to get some dinner.

In actual fact, she headed straight for the dungeons, knocking on the door to Snape's office. Hermione crossed her fingers that he was in there. She was going to make him to talk to her.

He was inside. 'Come in.'

'Good evening, Professor Snape,' said Hermione airily, as she opened the door. 'I hope I am not disturbing you, but I have some library books to return—one of which I believe you borrowed off me.'

It was a flimsy excuse for her intrusion—she wouldn't be able to go to the library until it opened tomorrow morning, but still, she was in.

'Ah, yes, I have it here, somewhere.' He looked through a stack of books on his desk, and Hermione stared at him, willing him to ask her about her interview. She wasn't going to bring it up herself—she had to retain some of her pride.

'This is the one—Victor Entwistle?'

She swallowed a sigh. 'Correct.'

He handed her the book, and Hermione almost snatched it from him in her irritation. He glanced back down to the essay he was marking.

'Thanks.' It was like banging her head against a brick bloody wall. 'See you tomorrow.'

'So when do you start, then?'

She clutched the book tightly to her chest in surprise. 'I'm sorry?'

'Did they not offer the job to you on the spot?' He raised an eyebrow in query.

'No, they did not...'

He made a noise of disapproval deep in his throat. 'You must be slipping, Miss Granger.'

Hermione felt herself brighten, and she took a step forward. 'Perhaps you didn't offer them a large enough bribe.'

He shrugged dismissively. 'I named my price—they can take it or leave it. I'm sure I can find someone else to palm you off to.'

This was more like it! 'Who says I am yours to sell?' she challenged.

'According to the Ministry, until the first of June, I can do what I like with you.'

Hermione almost blushed. 'It says that, does it?'

He smirked. 'Not in so many words, but let us say the small print is open to interpretation.'

'Well, as long as you don't sell me to Slug and Jigger's, I don't mind.'

'Maybe I will spare you that,' he said, with a dark chuckle.

Buoyed by his apparently good mood, as well as the fact that he'd probably said more to her tonight than he had all week, she stepped closer to his desk. 'Do you have anything you wish me to do?'

'No, I don't think so...'

Up close, she noticed that he looked a little tired, and for the first time she wondered if there was something else on his mind that accounted for his indifference lately—something that had nothing to do with her. She would probably never know.


A knock at the door interrupted him, and a young boy appeared. 'Sir? Sorry, sir, but there's a fight going on in the common room.'

Hermione heard Snape swear under his breath as he rose from his chair. She sighed as he disappeared, dropping her book onto his desk with frustration. The movement sent a quill to the floor, and she moved behind his desk to pick it up. As she did so, her leg knocked heavily against something. Grimacing with pain, Hermione looked down to find one of the drawers had been left open slightly. She lifted her foot to nudge it shut, and she saw something that she recognised.

Leaning down, she pulled the drawer towards her. It was the book that he had been reading that night when he'd dispelled her curse.

It was a large book, the cover of which was made of brown leather and heavily embossed. However, there was no title or name of an author visible. Biting her lip, she quickly lifted the book to check the spine. There was nothing on there either, though the cracks in the binding implied the tome was of some significant age. Taking a deep breath, she flipped open the cover. The parchment was thick and yellowed, but empty. Lifting several of the pages at a time, it seemed the whole book was blank.

Confused, Hermione closed the book and swiftly shut the drawer. Merlin, how she wished she'd never eavesdropped earlier on today!

She quickly moved to the other side of the desk, and she brought a hand to her mouth as she thought. It was possible that the book was charmed to appear blank—she'd definitely seen him reading it before. It was also possible that the book had absolutely nothing to do with the counter-curse.

Crossing slowly over to the door, she hesitated. Perhaps she should just straight out ask him about the counter-curse. It would be a reasonable enquiry, and how else would she ever satisfy her curiosity? Mind made up, she sat down in a chair and waited for him to return. It was as her courage was beginning to wane that he reappeared, looking fairly surprised to see her still there.

'Was there something else you needed?'

Hermione nodded, steeling herself. 'I, um, wanted to ask you about the counter-curse you used on me last week.'

Snape looked at her curiously. 'What about it?'

'I'm just interested in how it worked...'

He slumped elegantly into his chair and pinned her with a surveying look. 'By the very nature of its name, it cancelled out the presence of a negative curse. What more needs to be said?'

Hermione smiled reluctantly. 'I'd gathered that much. I just never realised that such a spell existed. I mean was it a generic counter-curse that worked only because the actual curse had significantly faded? Or was it something more particular?'

He drummed the fingers of his left hand briefly on the desk. 'Why are you asking me this now, and not last week?'

'Does it matter?'

'I think it does.'

Hermione looked at her hands. She'd known it would not be straightforward. She was unsure if she was about to make a mistake, but it seemed best to just go for it. 'I overheard you and Professor McGonagall this evening.'

His expression didn't flicker. 'Eavesdropping, eh? I would not have thought you capable of such behaviour.'

She frowned at the derisive note in his voice. 'I'm sorry for it, but I accidentally overheard the tail end of your conversation, which, I might add, was conducted in a public corridor.'

He didn't need to know she'd heard a lot more besides.

'So, you've been wrestling with your curiosity, rather than your conscience, all night, then? Is this why you have been in my drawer?'

Hermione's heart skipped a beat, but outwardly she remained calm.

'It was partially open when I left,' he pressed.

'So, I shut it.' She felt rather unsure of where this was all headed—he seemed deceptively unruffled by it all.

'You shut it,' he repeated slowly. He reached down and opened said drawer, retrieving the mysterious book and dropping it loudly onto his desk.

'Going to dust it for fingerprints?' Hermione clenched a fist tightly; what was she doing baiting him like this?

She thought she saw a flicker of amusement pass across his face, but she couldn't be sure.

'I think we both know what we would find if I did.'

Hermione made sure to keep her face impassive. 'Is there any relevance to this book?'

Snape opened it and flicked through several pages. 'Oh, well, it appears to be empty...'

'So it would seem... Look, if you're not going to tell me, then I'll just go.'

He remained unbothered, and Hermione closed her eyes in frustration. He drove her up the wall sometimes.

Something within him appeared to suddenly give, though, and he exhaled loudly. 'Does it matter where the counter-curse came from?'

'Probably not.' She paused and considered him for a moment. 'But I should still like to know.'

Snape laced his fingers together and shrugged. 'Fine; if you must know I devised a counter-curse by recreating the original curse.'

Hermione felt her mouth go dry. 'I'm sorry?'

'This book, which I tracked down through Lucius Malfoy, has at some point been in the possession of Voldemort, Grindelwald, and many, many others. Its origins are estimated to be from as far back as the founding of Hogwarts.'

He sounded offhand, as if what he was talking about was no big deal, but at the same time, he seemed to be daring her to object with indignation or disapproval.

'This book contains the recipe of an arcane potion that creates a similar effect to the curse that was used upon you. This potion was used as a punishment centuries ago, though its effects were reversible. Over time, the potion fell afoul of misuse and the Ministry sought to remove any record of it. It is my belief that Yaxley senior used this book as a basis for creating your curse.'

'You recreated the curse,' Hermione repeated dumbly.

'Theoretically, of course—I have had no one to test it on, after all. Still, the counter-curse worked, though whether it would have at the onset of your difficulties, I don't know.'

She could hardly believe that he had done such a thing, and her disbelief was surely written all over her face.

'Who could resist such an intellectual conundrum?' he said, by way of explanation.

Naturally, Hermione thought wryly. She would never dare suggest that it was anything other than an intellectual conundrum. Still, when she was feeling particularly pathetic, she could always let herself fantasise that he'd done it because he'd wanted to help her.

'Isn't it a bit dangerous, though? I mean, what if the Ministry caught you dabbling in the Dark Arts?'

As soon as the words had left her mouth, she realised she'd said a bit too much.

His eyes narrowed. 'Why should they find out?'

Hermione fidgeted. 'That book is incriminating—if someone recognised it...' Hell, McGonagall had said the Ministry visits were always unannounced!

'Miss Granger, please; I assure you there is no way any Ministry imbecile would be able to work out what is in this book, and unless you are planning on dropping me in it... ?'

'I think you should return it to Malfoy, or even get rid of it full stop.'

'And destroy the only chance we have against that curse? You might have faith in humanity but I, however, do not. Who knows who Yaxley might have shared the curse with?'

Hermione rubbed a hand over her forehead; he had a point. 'Maybe we should have told the Ministry the full story...'

'There's nothing more the Ministry could have done. No doubt, they would have redoubled their efforts in tracking down Dark items and artefacts, and so on, but they would likely destroy them. We need books like this. Where do you think I got the counter-curse that I used on you the first time round from? Standard Book of Spells Grade 5?'

'I never thought about it,' she admitted honestly.

'I know a lot about Dark magic, Miss Granger...'

'I suppose.' Hermione remained silent for a while. There had been a warning note in his voice, but she decided that it was almost acceptable, or normal, for him to know so much about Dark curses. That's why she'd never wondered about it before. Snape knew about Dark magic; it was like saying the earth was round. 'We all have to have a hobby...' She offered, slightly tongue-in-cheek.

He gave a short laugh. 'Yes, well, there are far less scandalous ones I could take up, I'm sure.'

Hermione waited a moment. 'Like, knitting, perhaps?'


She bit the inside of her cheek. 'Yes; or I could see you fishing.'

'I think some of my brain cells just shrivelled up and died simply at the thought of that kind of boredom.'

Hermione laughed, and then became serious once more as a thought occurred to her. 'So, you were not entirely sure if that counter-curse would work on me, then?'

He shook his head slowly.

'So, theoretically, anything could have happened?'

There was a ghost of a smirk about his lips. 'You were a very tractable guinea-pig.'

Hermione snorted quietly. 'Charming...'

Maybe she would make sure to be less tractable in future.

Snape leant forward and retrieved a scroll of parchment from his desk, throwing it lightly towards her. 'The Ministry sent these the other day, but I have not had chance to give them to you.'

Because you've been avoiding me, Hermione added silently.

'It's just some things for you to sign; a declaration that it's all your own work et cetera. Remember you need two copies of your work.'

'Two?' This was news to Hermione.

'Yes, the Ministry will be forwarding a copy for someone else to mark as well—someone you won't know. We will decide together on your final award.'

'Is this to rein in your renowned hastiness when handing out top marks?'

'Of course,' he replied blithely.

Hermione smiled slowly, wondering what it could possibly be that had him in such an amiable mood following his recent bout of aloofness. She half-debated whether to bring it up, but then, it was probably best not to question it. She watched as he rubbed a hand over his eyes.


He hummed in agreement.

Maybe that was her answer right there.

'I'll leave you to it, then.' She stood up, and her eyes were drawn to the contentious book that remained on his desk. 'You will, ah, get rid of that book, won't you? Or at least put it somewhere safe?'

He scowled long-sufferingly, and Hermione raised her hands defensively. 'All right, all right; you know what you are doing, I'm sure.'

'Considering I've been doing it since before you born, that would be about right, yes,' he muttered dryly.

Ah, yes; since before she was born. As if the issue of their respective ages had ever eclipsed her! It had steadily become a perpetual thorn in her side, but there was no point in dwelling on it now.

'Well, then, goodnight, sir.'

'Goodnight, Miss Granger.'

She shut the door behind her quietly, realising that she would have much to dwell upon in the very near future, though.

She would have to face it all at some point—it was unavoidable.

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 12 of 23

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