Continuing Tales

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 9 of 27

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"This is an outrage!" Moody growls.

Severus drums his fingers on Moody's flask and says nothing.

"It's all right, Alastor," Albus says. "If Severus is wrong about you, we'll all have a laugh about it at his expense, won't we? But, well, we just can't take any chances. Constant vigilance and all that."

"I'm not going to sit here and take this," Moody says and gets to his feet.

"Humor us, Alastor," Albus says. There is steel beneath the twinkle in his blue eyes.

Severus fingers his wand and stares across the table at the man who isn't Moody.

Moody eyes the door. He's already sweating, and now he starts to twitch. Severus watches the transformation with a potioneer's eye. The smoothness of the change is determined by the quality of the brew. This one wasn't brewed by a Master, he decides, based on the amount of twitching and convulsing going on.

Once Barty Crouch is trussed up and hauled away by the Aurors and poor old Moody is out of captivity and in the infirmary, Severus goes to the Headmaster's office where Albus, Minerva, Filius and Pomona are waiting for him.

"Any suggestions for a new Defence professor?" Albus asks.

"No one I know would touch that job with a ten foot pole," Filius says.

"Same," Pomona agrees.

"I know someone who might be suitable," Severus says. "Her name is Helena Greene. She taught Defence at Ilvermorny."

"A Yank?"

"No, she's British, but educated privately."

"Owl her and see how soon she can come for an interview."

Albus is delighted when Severus floo calls him later that evening to say that Helena Greene can interview the next morning.

Hermione sits through the usual twinkling and tea and lemon drops in the Headmaster's office the next morning as he asks perfunctory questions about her training and background. He's clearly desperate to fill the position, and doesn't dig too deep.

"Now for the practical portion of the interview," he says jovially, walking to the door and holding it open for her.

Hermione accompanies Albus to the Defence classroom, where Severus is waiting. She pulls out her wand and takes a dueling stance. She doesn't need to win, just last long enough to show Albus that she knows her stuff.

Severus starts off easy, keeps the hexes light, gauging her abilities. When her shield stays strong he steps up the intensity and she matches him, giving as good as she gets, and then he takes it up another level, and she starts to break a sweat.

She and Malfoy practice often, and they're both good, but Severus is better. So much better. It's exhilarating dueling someone who really challenges her. She feels the adrenaline coursing through her, and her breathing becomes audible. He doesn't even look like he's trying, the smug bastard.

Then a light gray hex pulses against her shield, and she feels the thrum of his magic curling around hers. She keeps her hexes light but then he does it again and this time she responds in kind. His eyes widen slightly as he feels the interplay of her magic with his.

She's done a lot of dueling over the years, but the only time she's ever felt that magical chemical reaction was when she dueled Severus. A few days after her first conversation about it with his portrait, when her embarrassment had given way to an intense curiosity, Hermione brought it up again, asking why he didn't think she'd react the way she did to his Dark hexes that day. He told her that for that to happen, usually there had to be either a fairly intense connection between the two people already, or their magic had to be unusually compatible. He'd never experienced it before himself, though he knew people who had, including Bellatrix who had experienced it with Riddle. Wonderful, Hermione thought at the time. That was a club of which she didn't particularly want to be a member.

Now, she aches to feel that high again, and when Severus casts something slightly darker, it's all she can do not to respond in kind. This is a job interview and Albus has seen enough to hire her already, so she focuses just on keeping her shields, which begin to weaken against his onslaught.

Severus narrows his eyes. He can tell she is no longer fighting as hard as she can, and he eases off, circling around her, letting her catch her breath as he watches her intently. He sends a hex, a little dark, nothing too intense, almost a caress rather than an attack. She deflects it easily but doesn't hex back. He does it again, softly, and then again, teasing, as though to whisper, Come out and play.

When Hermione responds in kind, a hint of a smile appears on his face and is gone almost at once. He increases the intensity a little, and she matches it, hex and counter-hex, attack and parry, increasing the force behind each spell a step at a time, until she feels his magic pressing against hers, and her own respond. She can hear it, like music, with two distinct tones that harmonize to create something wholly new and almost too beautiful to bear.

A look of wonder appears on Severus's face, so fleeting that she nearly misses it, and then he's occluding, and the music stops. The only sound is Hermione's breathing as she defends against a series of ordinary but brutally strong hexes. Then her shields shimmer and dissolve, and her wand is in his hand.

"Marvelous!" Albus cries. "Almost no one can last that long against Severus. You're hired, Professor Greene."

"Thank you, Headmaster," she says, wiping her brow. She starts to push her sleeves up, then stops. Severus notices.

"This will be your classroom, and your office is through that door," Albus says, pointing. "Your living quarters are on the other side of the office. The elves are clearing out your predecessor's things at present, and your rooms should be ready within the hour. I don't suppose you can start tomorrow?"

"I can, actually," she says.

"Splendid," he says. "Severus, would you show her around the castle, help her get her bearings? We'll see you at dinner in the Great Hall tonight, Helena," he says, not waiting for Severus to agree. "You don't mind if I call you Helena, I hope? I'm Albus. We're all informal here."

"I'll see you at dinner then, Albus," Hermione says.

When they're alone in the classroom, Severus gestures to her arm. "What are you hiding there, Granger?"

So not everyone is informal. She pushes up her sleeve. "Souvenir from Bellatrix Lestrange. She gets out of Azkaban when Riddle comes back."

"I'd just as soon she stay where she is," he says blandly, still occluding.

"Then what say we head to the Room of Lost Things and make short work of the first Horcrux?" Hermione says. She wants to talk about the interplay of their magic during the duel, but since this is Professor Snape and not Portrait Severus, she holds her tongue.

On their way to the Room of Lost Things, he asks, "How did you learn to duel like that?"

She knows he only means her technique, so she replies, "I had a good teacher. For one year anyway."



"He finally lets me teach Defence?"

"In my sixth year, yes. You taught Potions for my first five years."

"And your seventh?"

"You were Headmaster, and I was hunting Horcruxes. It was a particularly bad year for both of us."

"Headmaster? What happened to Albus? And why not Minerva?"

"Albus was dead because you killed him."

"I wouldn't –"

"You only did it because he ordered you to."

"Riddle did?"

"No. Albus. It's a long and complicated story, but it isn't going to happen this time around. I can tell you about it later, but for right now, let's destroy a little bit of Tom Riddle's black and rotten soul," she says, stopping in front of a blank wall and thinking about the diadem.

When the door appears, they enter the enormous, cluttered room and Hermione walks straight to the place she and Harry and Ron found the diadem the first time. She levitates it off the bust and onto the floor, and takes a wrapped bundle out of her bag. She unwards and unwraps it, and holds up a basilisk fang. "Would you like to do the honors?" she asks.

"Where did you get that?" he demands.

"From the dead basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets," she says. "And if you're starting to feel as angry and depressed as I am right now, that's the Horcrux. It messes with your mind, starts making you think awful, ugly things, so better be quick about it."

He takes the fang from her and plunges it through the largest stone in the diadem. It emits a tortured shriek and a twisted column of black smoke, and Severus feels the fear and anger and insecurity drain out of him.

"One down, six to go," he says.

"No, one was destroyed in my second year, and he doesn't make the snake a Horcrux until he comes back this year."

"So four left. What are they?"

She's not ready to tell him about Harry and the Horcrux potion just yet. "Destroying Dark Lords takes a lot out of a person," she says, "and I still have lessons to plan. Can I fill you in on the rest tomorrow?"

He nods and vanishes the remains of the Horcrux. They leave the room and the door disappears behind them.

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 9 of 27

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