Continuing Tales

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 4 of 23

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Still Hermione often thought that being an apprentice at Hogwarts was, at times, a weird experience. Sometimes, she felt in a kind of limbo—not quite fitting in with the teachers, and indeed, not with the students, either. In many ways, she occupied a little niche of her own.

Naturally, many of those on the staff had more than made her feel welcome, especially those teachers who had taught her in the past. McGonagall, particularly so, and then there was Hagrid, of course. Still, sitting with them at the High table at dinner or in the staff room was sometimes rather... odd. Months down the line, she still often felt The staff room was the worst—it tended to be rather cliquey. It hadn't taken Hermione long to work out the little groups and patterns.

There were those who rarely, if ever, used the staff room for socialising—Professors Sinistra and Trelawney to name but two. Hagrid, similarly, was often absent, though not because he was the retiring type—he was just too big. Professor McGonagall, as the Headmistress, was usually only there in the evenings, but when she was, she divided her time amongst everyone—it was her duty.

Madam Hooch, Professors Flitwick, Vector and Sprout, and sometimes Madam Pomfrey, tended to congregate together. Hermione termed them the 'regulars,' having known them all as a student. She enjoyed their company, but there was no getting away from the fact that they were a lot older than her and, as such, they had limited interests in common. Joining in conversations with them often meant sitting on the sidelines.

Then, there were the relatively new additions to the staff—new teachers for Transfiguration, Defence, and Muggle Studies. Hermione could understand why they appeared to have banded together—it was intimidating enough starting a new job, without having to deal with colleagues who'd known each other for years and years.

Despite also being new, and quite near in age to the Muggle Studies teacher, Hermione didn't feel part of their group, either, and actually, she was fine with it. In fact, she was sure some of them rather looked down on her as just another student, only with certain privileges. Theoretically, she supposed they were right.

Snape occupied a rather unique position. He often sat alone reading, usually in the quietest part of the room. However, though he was also much younger than the older staff, he had the advantage of nearly twenty years of teaching at Hogwarts, and could seamlessly attach himself to the 'regulars' should he be so inclined to.

It was all very hierarchical and it amused her to observe.

For her own part, regardless of whether she 'fitted in' anywhere, Hermione liked to sit in the staff room, even if it was just to read. It was nice just to be amongst people—she found her rooms could become rather lonely, even with Crookshanks.

Today, there was an empty armchair next to her Potions master—there often was—and she unobtrusively folded herself into it. The only acknowledgement she received from him was in the form of a brief glance up from his Daily Prophet. Tucking her legs beneath her, she opened her book.

Hermione regularly chose such a seating arrangement, mostly because she didn't feel so awkward sitting next to him—she felt less out of place, in a way. She supposed it was because, through working with him, she had become more used to him than anyone else in the castle. Hermione did wonder, though, if she annoyed him by such actions. It wasn't that she attached herself to him all the time, but as he had to put up with her throughout the day, she wondered if maybe he'd like nothing more than to see the back of her during the evenings.

Just in case, she made sure she said as little as possible.

She was very much aware of the difference in how she felt about him now, compared to the beginning of her apprenticeship. Her very first week, especially, had been tense to say the least! She was sure she had said nary a word for the whole of that time. He would give her instructions in the morning, and she would get on with them quietly, tending to her potions with such exaggerated care as if afraid that she would suddenly say or do something to send him off into an angry tirade

She had been convinced something major would happen to set him off. Many times, she had entertained visions of him storming up to McGonagall's office to announce that they could not work together. Clearly, that had not happened, but it hadn't been a particularly enjoyable time. In fact, it had rather tired her out being on her guard all day.

At the time, it had seemed like she would never get used to spending so much of her day in his company—the whole experience was just so foreign to her. As a student, classes with him had very much followed a simple, universal pattern—get in, keep your head down, and hopefully, get out unscathed; although, Hermione had not always managed to stick to said pattern.

In essence, her main issue during those first few weeks was that she'd had no idea what to say to him. She could manage the occasional, 'Do you have any more Moonstone?' 'How long do you want my essay to be?' Other than that, she'd been at a loss. Snape didn't seem to have a problem with the atmosphere, quiet was more than acceptable to him, but when the forced silence became nigh on debilitating for Hermione, she realised something would have to give. She had to talk—otherwise she'd go mad.

It was her disability with regard to casting spells that eventually helped to dissolve the excessively formal and strained atmosphere. Early on, Hermione had discovered that while spell-work wasn't necessary in the making of potions, as such, it was easy to forget how often it was necessary when cleaning up spillages, spoiled brews, and so on.

Once, she'd accidentally dropped a vial and had been picking up the broken pieces when Snape walked in, looking fairly harassed following his last lesson of the day.

'Miss Granger,' he'd demanded briskly, 'what on earth are you doing?'

She'd flushed and placed the broken glass onto the table. 'Well, I can't... Reparo it back together...'

He'd paused and sighed. 'Of course you can't.' He repaired the vial within a matter of seconds. 'Look, if you need to help with certain spells, then just ask—I'm not going to bite your head off; it's not your fault, after all.'

Hermione nodded.

'Just need to learn to leave your pride at the door.'

She'd fixed him with a surprised look and laughed briefly. 'Yes, that is true.' Her pride certainly did ache at the thought of having to ask someone to cast a simple Reparo charm for her.

Still, despite his words about not biting her head off, there had been times when he'd done precisely that. Not long after the vial incident, Hermione had had need of his help once more. He'd been in his office, as he was every evening for an hour dedicated to Head of House duties while Hermione had been brewing a rather difficult antidote in the classroom. In a nutshell, she'd gone wrong somewhere along the line and her potion looked dangerously close to exploding.

He hadn't been impressed when she'd gone to fetch him.

He had sighed deeply and muttered to himself as he left his office—unfortunately, she ended up catching something derogatory about having to "babysit Gryffindors".

'How could you have possibly gone wrong with this potion, Miss Granger? You have the instructions before you—it could not have been easier if I'd brewed the potion for you myself!'

Hermione had bitten her lip, sure that to defend herself would only provoke him further.

'I can assure you, Miss Granger that I have better things to do with my time than run around clearing up your messes!'

'Look, I'm sorry, but I didn't do it on purpose, and believe me, if I could rectify it without your help I would!' She couldn't help herself; in hindsight she thought it must have been the build up of tension that had caused her to raise her voice.

Snape glared at her. 'So, how did you manage to bugger up such a potion, then? Are you aware of just how much Unicorn hair costs?'

He Banished her mess with an impatient flick of his wand.

'I don't know—I followed your instructions.'

'Are you implying my instructions were wrong?' he demanded dangerously.

Hermione held her ground. 'You tell me.'

He scowled and swiftly turned his gaze to sweep over her table for several moments until he picked up a jar, seemingly at random, and sniffed it. 'No wonder your cauldron was about to explode—what the hell were you using crushed snake fangs for?'

'I wasn't!' she protested incredulously. Hermione grabbed the jar off him and turned it round, showing him the label. 'There, it says powdered Bicorn horn!'

'This is patently not Bicorn horn, Miss Granger! Can you not smell the difference between the two powders?'

'No, I never noticed—why should I when the jar is labelled Bicorn horn?'

'Where did you get this jar?'

'The student cupboard—from where you told me to get it!'

Comprehension seemed to dawn on Snape's face and he slammed the jar down onto the table. 'Little bastards...' he muttered harshly and yanked open the doors to the student cupboard. He began removing several boxes and jars.

'What's the matter?' Hermione asked in confusion.

He unscrewed the lid on a jar labelled 'crushed snake fangs', containing a similar white powder, and peered into it. 'This is the Bicorn horn!'

'The labels have been swapped?' She could sense the anger fairly radiating off him in waves.

'Bloody kids, they think they're so clever!' he hissed. 'Have you ever seen anything so irresponsible? To think of the accidents that could have been caused by this!' He ferociously ripped off the labels and changed them back to their correct positions. 'If I ever catch who is responsible...!'

'I'm sure they didn't mean any particular harm—they're just kids messing about.' If she thought she could calm him down like that, she was sorely misguided.

He rounded on her. 'You would excuse such reprehensible behaviour, would you, on the grounds that they're kids? Mind, I don't why I should expect anything more from someone who condones the throwing of fireworks around a classroom.'

Hermione's eyes widened perceptibly.

'Well, thank you for confirming it for me. It wasn't a difficult deduction to make, once all the facts became known; a firework thrown, certain ingredients stolen, and then, several weeks down the line Miss Granger ends up in a hospital bed—as a cat.'

Her cheeks flushed, and she averted her eyes. 'I agree, that incident was... regrettable.'

He snorted and turned back to the cupboard, rifling through the contents. 'I'm going to have to check through all of this, now,' he spat impatiently.

At the increasingly loud, fractious noise of jars clinking together, Hermione stepped forward. 'Look, I'll do it—I won't have time to start the potion again, after all.'

He paused and looked at her. 'Very well, then.'

Hermione was soon left alone, and she stared thoughtfully at the task before her. Well, at least she knew it wasn't her own fault that the potion had gone wrong, though, clearly, that didn't warrant an apology from Snape for going off on one.

Still, one thing did intrigue her—how long had he been waiting for an opportunity to throw her second-year Polyjuice mishap back in her face?


It was bust-ups like that, however, that helped to ease Hermione into becoming used to dealing with him on regular basis. They helped her to realise that she didn't have to be a doormat in her interaction with him. He wasn't going to put her in detention, or, at worse, send her packing, if she dared to speak out against him or stick up for herself. Of course, she was sure there were limits to his tolerance, but she simply wasn't interested in pushing him as far as to find out.

'Miss Granger?'

Hermione jolted out of her thoughts with a start. 'Sir?'

Snape put a hand inside his robe and pulled out a roll of parchment tied neatly with a ribbon. 'Work experience,' he said cryptically.

Hermione frowned. 'What about it?'

He waggled the scroll. 'A new brainwave from the quill-pushers at the Ministry—as part of your apprenticeship, they have decided you must complete at least thirty hours of work experience in order to qualify. The work must be potions-related, of course.'

She fought not to sigh. 'Let me guess—I have to organise it all myself?'

'Naturally; although, they have included a selection of establishments you may wish to try.'

Hermione took the parchment from him and unravelled it. 'Are you interested in the grass roots of potion-making and the procurement of ingredients? Slug and Jigger's Apothecary is Diagon Alley's premier supplier of first-class ingredients...blah, blah, blah,' she finished, rolling her eyes.

'What that actually means is—are you interested in shovelling entrails and bagging up all manner of delightful bits and pieces?'

She nodded in agreement. 'How about this one; are you intrigued by the development and improvement of potion-making apparatus? Apply to Potage's Cauldron Shop for more information about this exciting field.'

'Ah; the exhilarating world of collapsible cauldrons, clamps, and crucibles.'

Hermione raised her eyebrows. 'Captivating, I'd imagine,' she said lightly.


She bit back an amused smile. 'Well, the rest are not much better...'

'You aren't limited to those options—that scheme is eventually going to be aimed at N.E.W.T. level students, hence the menial nature. St. Mungo's, for instance, has its own apothecary. I've no doubt the work there is far more challenging.'

Hermione considered the parchment thoughtfully, and then glanced around the staff room to ensure she couldn't be overheard. 'You know,' she began quietly, 'my magical strength is much improved, but something may catch me out here.'

Snape considered for a moment. 'I shouldn't think they would give you anything taxing to do, in that respect. In any case, I doubt you would suffer as adverse a reaction as you have in the past.'

Merlin, no; she fully expected not to ever have to suffer the indignity of such incidents again. Her worst experience with the side-effects of the curse, he had actually witnessed and, well, inadvertently caused, too.

That, damned curse!


She'd been working in the office, quietly going through her project, when Snape had suddenly appeared around the door.

'Miss Granger, I need you to look after my class.'

Her insides froze. 'I'm sorry?'

'I need you to look after my third-years for a moment—the Headmistress requires my presence in her office,' he said impatiently.

Hermione cleared her throat. 'Look after them?' She was sure she sounded like an idiot.

'Yes! Come with me.'

She got up and mutely followed him the short distance to his classroom. Her heart began to pound irritably.

'I cannot leave them unattended—they are halfway through making a Strengthening Solution. Just keep an eye on them until I return. If I am not back by the bell, get them to bottle their mixtures for me.'

Hermione nodded dumbly, feeling her nerves jangle. She had no idea what to do with a classroom full of unpredictable children, especially those equipped with potentially volatile cauldrons! What if after Snape left they began to run wild?

'Miss Granger will be keeping an eye on you while I go and see the Headmistress. There is a barrel of horned slugs awaiting disembowelment for anyone who causes any trouble.'

Snape swept from the room, and Hermione was left standing there, staring at a sea of faces. Unsure of what to do with herself, she sat down in Snape's chair and mentally braced herself. She noticed that at his departure, tension seemed to visibly flow from the shoulders of many students. This worried her slightly, but when they all remained focused on their work, she felt herself relax. Hopefully, Snape's particular brand of discipline could be sustained from wherever he was in the castle.

There was half an hour to go until the bell went for the end of the lesson. After sitting there dumbly for a few minutes, she wondered if she should do something, like get up and walk around, for instance. Or, should she—

'Um, Miss Granger?'

Hermione's head snapped around; there was a student with a hand up.

'Yes?' She got up and approached the girl.

'I think I've chopped my Knotgrass wrong.'

Hermione looked at the chopping board. The Knotgrass had been entirely annihilated by the young girl's blade. 'All right; get some more, but this time shred the grass finely with the very tip of your knife, so that you don't lose so much of the sap. Get rid of that mess.' Before Professor Snape sees it.

With one incident dealt with, another soon presented itself; indeed, it happened very suddenly.

There was a telltale sputtering noise, and Hermione, with dread, glanced to the other side of the room in time to see one boy's cauldron begin to bubble furiously. In a matter of seconds, it began overflowing and the metal of the cauldron started to buckle. Students near the botched potion stood up, and a hubbub of noise began to fill the room.

Without thinking about it, Hermione had her wand out. 'All right; keep still, everyone.' In quick succession, she had doused the heat under the cauldron, and Banished it completely. Then, the contents seeping across the table were gone; another flick of her wand and the mess that pooled on the floor had disappeared, too.

She paused and stared at what she'd just done, hardly daring to believe that her spells had actually worked.

'Is, ah, did anyone get any of the potion on them?'

'Yes, Miss—I've burnt my hand.'

'OK, go up and see Madam Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing. Everyone else get back to work.'

It wasn't until she got back to Snape's desk that she realised that she was shaking. For a brief moment, she wondered if she'd get away with it, but then the dizziness began to seep into her senses, and she sat down with a deep breath.

'Once your potions are finished... can you please bottle them for Professor Snape.'

Her stomach was beginning to churn when Snape reappeared through the door, several moments later. The students were milling around their desks, collecting up their things, and Hermione was sure she'd never been so pleased to see him in her life.

He gave her a look as he moved to sort out the array of vials, ticking off the names on his register as each student left.

'What on earth is the matter?' he said quietly, out of the earshot of nearby students. 'You look as white as a sheet.'

Hermione opened her mouth to speak, but closed it immediately. She shook her head briefly and looked away, afraid she was going to be sick in front of them all.

Once the last student had left, he spoke once more. 'Well?'

'I had to... use my wand... cauldron exploded...' Hermione sucked in her breaths deeply, stubbornly trying to keep the nausea at bay.

Snape frowned. 'Come, I will take you to Madam Pomfrey.'

Tentatively, she hauled herself to her feet and immediately clutched at the desk to steady herself. 'I won't be able to make it that far.'

'To my office then—I'll get you something to settle your stomach.'

Hermione said nothing; all her concentration was focused on appearing normal as they entered the corridor—just in case there were students about. Luckily, it was quiet as she steadily stepped towards the office. They were almost there when she felt her knees nearly buckle. Stopping, she automatically reached out and grabbed Snape's arm. She placed her other hand on the wall beside her for support.

'I just... need a minute.' Closing her eyes, she focused on her breathing once more, utterly determined that she would not be sick, or even collapse in front of him. He remained silent, and she was grateful for it. Finally, she loosened her grip on him to begin walking once more, but he curled his hand around her upper arm, instead.

'You look like you're on your last legs.'

Hermione laughed very weakly. 'I feel like it.'

Once inside the office, Snape transfigured a chair into a settee, and she sunk down onto it with relief.

'Here, drink this—it'll settle your stomach.'

She drank the contents of the small vial gratefully, and lay back with her eyes closed.

'Would you like me to fetch Madam Pomfrey?'

Hermione raised a hand to her forehead. 'No,' she sighed, 'there's not much she can do—I just need to sleep it off.'

She could feel the bile beginning to rise in her throat, and she concentrated with all her might on getting her roiling stomach under control. Soon, the potion began to work, and she could feel the sickness begin to ease. Sitting up, Hermione rubbed her throbbing temples. 'It was only a few Banishing charms, for Merlin's sake!' she muttered in frustration. She'd never felt so drained.

Snape cleared his throat. 'I should not have left you alone with them.'

Hermione looked up to where he was leaning against his desk. 'It's fine—it's good to know my spells are working now, actually.'

'I must say, you were particularly unlucky that Jabez Yaxley was so proficient with a wand—you appear to be feeling the effects a lot more strongly than I would have originally anticipated.'

She sank back into the settee and rested her head against the soft cushion, letting her eyelids droop. 'I know,' she said quietly. 'Madam Pomfrey says the trace of the curse is still quite strong inside me, and I hate thinking of it like that.' It did unsettle her greatly to know she had dark magic lingering inside her. 'Why does it have this effect on me? I've tried researching it, but I've found nothing.'

Snape shrugged and picked up a sand timer off his desk, turning it about in his hands. 'It's difficult to say, really,' he said pensively. 'There is little agreed consensus as to how magic works, as such. Casting a spell, even a simple spell, requires focus, power, energy—all of which, potentially, can strain the body. This is partly why children are not encouraged to use magic until they are older. To simplify matters, we may look at magic as an energy source that strengthens the body, in biological terms; hence, magical folk live longer, and so on. Your source has been compromised to the point where your body is fighting against your magic because of the strain it causes when you use it.'

'So, it's like I'm sabotaging myself or something? The curse has suppressed my magic, and my body is reacting against it, in order that I don't cause further damage through using magic—kind of self-preservation, I suppose.'

He moved away from his desk and began scanning one of the many bookshelves that lined the office. 'The reason you have found no information on the curse is because I believe it to be of recent origin. There were murmurings of this type of curse being developed by Voldemort during his first rise to power—what he deemed an infinitely ironic punishment for those who sided with Muggles. Though, as far as I was aware, nothing ever came to fruition; not least because of Harry Potter putting an early kibosh on Voldemort's machinations.

'However, that is not to say that developments were not made, whether by Voldemort himself or one of his Death Eaters. Clearly, Yaxley managed to obtain the spell from somewhere, as I highly doubt it was of his own creation, or Yaxley Senior's, for that matter. This book may help you to understand more generally about magical theory. It has been deemed pretentious twaddle by some, mainly because of the complex subject matter, but you may form your own conclusions.'

'Thank you.' She took the book and looked at it appreciatively—she wanted to start reading it straightaway, but a huge yawn reminded her of why she was there in the first place.

'Sorry, I'm not going to be of much use today...'

'Well, I'm sure I would have some tricky questions to face were I to let you collapse into your cauldron.'

She stood up slowly, grimacing as her head throbbed. 'I should be fine by tomorrow.'

And, basically, she had been. She'd gone to bed once back in her rooms and had slept non-stop till the following day. Thankfully, she'd also had the weekend to recover her footing.

Poppy had not been impressed when she found out about her state. Indeed, she'd come to her rooms, firmly assuring her that Snape wouldn't be leaving her alone with a class anytime soon—she'd seen to that!

All Hermione could think was how embarrassing—she could just imagine the mediwitch berating him.


That had been months ago, though, and she was sure she'd never have to suffer through that kind of discomfort again—she just had to stop fretting about it. Besides, getting back out there again, to the outside world, sounded like a good idea. More than that, she had to begin planning what she would do once she left Hogwarts, and this experience might point her in the right direction.

'You know, I think at this stage you needn't worry so much about people finding out about your difficulties—they need never know the true extent of the matter,' said Snape contemplatively. 'The secrecy was to ensure you were not presented as an easy target to further vengeful attack.'

'I suppose,' Hermione agreed. 'To be honest, I'm surprised no one has found out. I thought someone was bound to comment that they rarely see me with my wand out.'

'You give the students far more credit in terms of observational skills than I do.'

A twinkle formed in Hermione's eye. 'Now, this is interesting; I was unaware that you gave the children any credit at all.'

She felt, rather than saw his glare. It was always difficult to predict his response when she teased him, but she could never resist having a poke now and again. It was a novelty she was sure would never wear off, not now the odds of her getting away with it were much improved.

Snape picked up his paper once more. 'Tread carefully, Miss Granger; very carefully, indeed.'

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, but he caught her gaze and raised an eyebrow at her.

Hermione found herself sobering, unexpectedly.

Hmm; maybe, he had a point.

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 4 of 23

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