Continuing Tales

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 3 of 23

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Still For the next few days, Hermione found that Ron and her other friends remained on her mind a great deal. She often wrote to Harry and Ginny, though she hadn't seen them in a while. As for Ron, she'd neither seen him nor corresponded with him for several months. She missed them all, but couldn't help but wonder if the break from them had done her good.

Certainly, her bitterness towards Ron had lessened to the point where she was sure that she would like to rebuild their friendship in the future, and she believed it was the distance that had done it. Thus, part of her was now rather glad that circumstances had conspired to set her on course to Hogwarts, because things could have turned out quite different.

After the Ron debacle, and the subsequent fallout, Hermione had seriously contemplated moving back into her parents' house and finding a job in the Muggle world—she had to earn money somehow, after all. There it wouldn't matter about her lack of magic, and no one would be looking at her pityingly for losing her boyfriend to a glamorous 'model.'

Almost immediately, an obstacle presented itself—she had no Muggle academic qualifications to speak of. She'd been considering whether to get Harry or Ginny to magically fabricate a C.V. for her when she remembered Professor McGonagall's offer of assistance. She was sure her old Head of House would write her a reference that would aid her in the Muggle world.

She hadn't waited long for a reply—McGonagall had written back promptly, but there was no reference, only a request that Hermione should come and see her at Hogwarts.

She could remember her visit quite vividly.


Ginny Apparated her to Hogsmeade, saving her the tediously long train journey, and she was met at the gates by Hagrid. He escorted her to the Headmistress' office, giving her the password so that she might travel up the moving staircase.

'Miss Granger! I'm so pleased to see you again. How are you?'

Hermione smiled. 'I'm... I'm OK, Professor, thank you. I hope you are well?'

'Oh, very well, thank you. Now, take a seat.'

She sat.

'What is all this about returning to the Muggle world?'

There was to be no beating about the bush, then. 'Well, as I'm sure you can appreciate, Professor, I am having difficulty finding a job that does not require regular use of a wand...'

McGonagall smiled understandingly. 'Well, I'm sure we can find you something that doesn't warrant a return to the Muggle world! I know that is where you were brought up, Miss Granger, but you don't really want to turn your back on magic?'

'Of course not, and I don't mean to stay away for good, but what can I do? We are trying to keep it a secret. I'm thinking a break would do me good, anyway.' Hermione shifted in her chair uncomfortably, still feeling the sting of having part of her private life bandied about in newspapers.

'Your magic will return, my dear. Of that I have no doubt.'

'I hope so.'

'I have been thinking, and I believe I have the perfect solution for you.' McGonagall paused as the door opened.

'You wanted to see me, Minerva?'

Hermione stilled at the sound of Severus Snape's voice.

'Severus, I am trying to solve a problem of Miss Granger's—her current lack of an occupation. Take a seat.'

Snape sat with a brief nod in her direction. Hermione managed a quick quirk of her lips, unsure why his presence was needed. Snape's thoughts seemed to be on the same track.

'Forgive me, but why do I need to be involved in this little discussion?'

'Because, you are my Deputy, Severus, and I wish to hear you thoughts,' replied McGonagall serenely. 'I am to offer Miss Granger an apprenticeship.'

'An apprenticeship?' Hermione repeated.

McGonagall nodded enthusiastically.

Hermione gave a confused laugh. 'But I can't use my wand...'

'I know...'

'Well, I'd only be able to do Muggle Studies or... Oh...' She paused as realisation hit her. 'Potions,' she said quietly, looking apprehensively at the man next to her.

He had his hand over his eyes and sighed loudly before speaking.

'Minerva, no one at Hogwarts has taken on an apprentice in years—there has been little call for such positions. Does the Ministry even still allow for such an arrangement anymore?' Hope tinged his voice, much to Hermione's consternation.

'Of course they do!' McGonagall looked over her glasses at Hermione. 'The bursary they provide is not excessive, but that reflects the fact that you will incur no living costs at Hogwarts.'

'You enjoyed Potions, didn't you?' McGonagall pressed further when Hermione remained silent.

'Well, yes...' Hermione conceded carefully.

'Minerva, I haven't the time to—'

'Severus, of course you have the time! In fact, having Hermione around will free up your time—she can help with classes, and your marking and so on, whilst she is working on her project.'

Snape scowled deeply.

'That is all your duties will be, Miss Granger. You will carry out a research project—whatever you like—whilst occasionally helping out with Severus' duties. I need not tell you that such a qualification will go very far in the Wizarding world.'

Hermione bit her lip. She had no doubt that studying for a year with Severus Snape, of all people, would garner a certain amount of respect. It would also provide her with a significant sense of achievement, as well; how could it not? Who knew what she would have to contend with if spending six years as his student was anything to go by! Talk about showing strength of character!

'Professor, while I am very appreciative of such an offer, indeed, I just... I'm not sure it is what I want to do. I would not want to put Professor Snape to any particular trouble, especially if my heart weren't really in it.'

Truthfully, the idea did hold some appeal. Hogwarts was the perfect place to get away from it all, but could she hack it with Snape for a whole year? And the last thing she wanted was for Snape to be forced to take her on, which was how it was looking.

If only she could apprentice with Professor Flitwick!

'Don't worry about Severus—he doesn't mind,' McGonagall brushed off flippantly, and at the loud huff of disagreement next to her, Hermione felt even more uncomfortable.

'May I have some time to think about it?'

The Headmistress nodded. 'Certainly!'

Hermione smiled gratefully. 'Thank you; I'll let you know my decision in a few days, then.'

She didn't need to think about it—she would have to say no. She was gratified by McGonagall's offer, as well as her obvious desire to help her, very much so, but she had no interest in being foisted upon someone out of pity. Besides, she owed Snape, so inflicting herself upon him against his will would not be conducive to redressing that balance.

Hermione made her goodbyes – Snape said nothing – and she began walking back down into Hogsmeade where Ginny was waiting for her in the Three Broomsticks. The day had not been wasted, by any means, but she was still very much none the wiser as to what she was going to do with herself.


It was a letter that eventually helped to change her outlook on the idea of apprenticing at Hogwarts.

For a few days, Hermione had bided her time before visiting Hogwarts with a view to respectfully decline the offer of an apprenticeship. It was during that time that the unfamiliar owl arrived.

Well, the owl had been unfamiliar, but the handwriting had not.

The only plausible reason Hermione could come up with for Severus Snape writing to her was that he felt more definitive action was needed—action to ensure she did not impose upon his time and patience by accepting the Headmistress' offer. Therefore, she hesitated before unfolding the parchment.

Dear Miss Granger,

I am writing to you at the behest of Professor McGonagall. I am to inform you of my complete indifference as to whether you decide to take up the position of apprentice at Hogwarts, or, indeed, whether you do not. It would appear that I am also obliged to inform you that my indifference is entirely my own, and not as the result of any undue pressure from other quarters.

Yours sincerely,

Professor S. Snape

Deputy Headmaster

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Her eyebrows had been practically in her hairline by the time she'd finished reading the short missive. If McGonagall had hoped this course of action would convince her of Snape's complicity, then she was sorely mistaken. She was now certain that McGonagall must have some sort of hold over him.

Still, what if there were a chance Snape would be willing to take her on? If that were the case, she found herself considering whether she really did want that chance. She'd never envisaged studying Potions beyond her N.E.W.T.s, but then, she'd never envisaged leaving her Ministry job after only a year, either.

Could she face life in the castle with all the teachers and all the kids? On the other hand, surrounding herself with a load a textbooks was rather appealing...

In the end, she'd gone back to Hogwarts with an idea as to how she would make her final decision. She would confront the Potions master, confident that he would speak to her frankly. Luckily, she'd happened upon him near the stone gargoyle guarding the entrance to the Headmistress' office.

'Professor Snape!' she'd called down the corridor.

He paused and waited for her to reach him. 'What is it, Miss Granger?'

'Look, sir, about this apprenticeship... I really don't want to be a burden, I mean, even from your letter I can't help but think that you are agreeing to all this rather, um, begrudgingly...'

'You think I'm incapable of speaking my own mind?'

'Well, I just find it hard to believe that you would agree to something like this... willingly.'

'Are you implying that the Headmistress must have had me write that letter at wand-point, then?'

Hermione blinked. 'Not quite...'

'Perhaps she's blackmailing me?'

'No, I don't think—'

'Maybe she's even Imperio'd—'

'Severus!' The stone gargoyle moved and Minerva McGonagall stepped out from behind it. 'Stop aggravating Miss Granger.'

Snape looked away with a smirk.

'Have you made your decision, my dear?'

Hermione smoothed a hand over her hair. 'Well, I was just saying to Professor Snape that I have concerns about, ah, being a nuisance—'

'Wherever would you get that idea from?' the older woman blustered loudly. 'Tell her, Severus!'

Hermione shifted uncomfortably—fairly mortified as Snape's expression became exasperated.

'Miss Granger, I fail to understand why you are labouring under the delusion that you ever had any choice in this matter—that either of us had any choice in the matter—in the first place. Clearly, our esteemed Headmistress has decided that by hook or by crook, she'll have you back here.' He sighed heavily. 'For my own part, I will agree to have you as my apprentice... though, I will have some, ah, stipulations.'

'No doubt...' Hermione acknowledged, only a touch apprehensively.

McGonagall eyed her expectantly.

'Well, if Professor Snape is agreeable, then I think I'll accept.' She breathed deeply; Merlin, she hoped she would not regret it.

'Wonderful!' cried McGonagall. 'I shall contact the Ministry immediately so they can draw up the paperwork.'

She disappeared back up the staircase, and Hermione was left feeling rather dazed.

Snape began pacing up and down in front of her. 'Right then, Miss Granger—I shall want to see a research proposal within the next two weeks.'

Two weeks?

'Something befitting of an advanced level, involving both theoretical and practical work, and an idea that has some originality, but bear in mind we are not looking to reinvent the wheel, so reign in your flights of fancy—you will only shoot yourself in the foot. Examples of previous work may be found in the library, and believe me, I will recognise plagiarism when I see it.'

Hermione narrowed her eyes, affronted by his insinuations.

'Alongside your project and other duties, you will be tasked with essays to be completed on topics of my choosing. I will also teach you how to brew certain potions not covered under the N.E.W.T. curriculum. Failure to keep up with these tasks will result in a diminished final mark, regardless of the quality of your research project.'

When had she ever not completed work within required deadlines?

'As to your ambiguously termed 'other duties,' well, we will discuss them when I've decided what they shall be.'

His expression become distant, and Hermione wondered what delights he'd have in store for her.

'On commencing your work, you will be expected to come with a basic kit of ingredients, of which it is your responsibility to keep replenished. Your standard school cauldron will not be good enough; while the school has a selection of cauldron types, it is preferred that you try and get your own—the specifications of which I will forward to you in due course. You will be required to dress appropriately; you will be neither student nor staff, but that does not give you free reign to do as you please. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, you will be a representative of this school and will have a duty to behave in a manner befitting such.'

Hermione bit the inside of her cheek. 'Very well,' she noted tightly, trying to assimilate all the information he'd just given her.

Suddenly, he was looking at her rather sternly. 'I am aware of your troubles, of course, and I know that you have been hesitant about taking up this position. Indeed, one might say that this is merely making the best of an unfortunate situation. I feel bound to warn you, Miss Granger, that I will not tolerate any half-heartedness on your part. If you don't feel you can commit yourself, I suggest you turn around and walk out of this castle right now. Do you understand?'


And that had been that. Two weeks later, she'd returned to Hogwarts armed with, admittedly, several research ideas and fairly rippling with anticipation. The paperwork had been signed; Snape had had one more go at scaring her off—she was sure it hadn't been a coincidence that he'd showed her an abandoned room full of old, dirty, broken potions equipment and commented with deceptive flippancy that it could do with a clear out.

Within a short space of time, she'd moved into the castle, and her apprenticeship had begun. Regardless of her reasons for doing the apprenticeship in the first place, she knew she would try her very best. So, she couldn't say that she'd ever dreamed of studying as an apprentice, and so what if Potions had never been her most favourite subject in school? It was the challenge that appealed to her. Applying herself to such an interesting situation had really helped take her mind off the important issue of when her magic was going to return.

Though, that wasn't to say there hadn't been incidents along the way that conspired to preoccupy her mind with the curse that lingered inside her still. Those moments were becoming few and far between now; all the evidence was pointing towards a full recovery—very soon.

It would have to be soon; time was ticking on. She only had one more term to go at Hogwarts before her apprenticeship would end, and she would be back to square one. Still, her options would be much wider with a new qualification attached to her C.V. and the thought of her future exhilarated her.

This was all providing she actually qualified, of course.

She was sure that if her project were really rubbish, Snape would have said something, but he didn't say if it was good, either. Regularly, she handed in rough drafts of parts of her research for him to look at. He sometimes added annotations or corrections, but would it kill him just to say, 'This is coming along well, Miss Granger,' or something along those lines so she would know she was on the right track?

The only way she could determine his satisfaction with her work, she supposed, was through counting sarcastic comments. If there were none, Hermione generally took it to mean that it was fine. It had taken her a while, but she'd come to the realisation that, most of the time, it wasn't what Snape said, but rather what he didn't say that was suggestive.

Well, she would find out if her instincts were wrong when she got her marks back.

She was determined, though, to get at least one piece of praise from him before the school year was out, and nothing that could be construed as double-meaning, or back-handed, either. Him saying, 'Your potion is as it should be, though I think I might have aged ten years in the time it took you to complete it,' did not count.

Neither did the word 'adequate.' How Hermione hated that word! It always implied there was something more to be reached—something more to achieve; she wanted more than to just scrape by.

He loved words like that:

'That's an adequate attempt, Miss Granger.'

'Your potion is acceptable, sufficient, tolerable, reasonable, satisfactory...' The list went on; she wondered if he knew every synonym for the blasé adjective 'adequate.'

She wanted something clear and unequivocal—she'd be happy just with 'good.'

It had to be possible.


One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 3 of 23

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