Disclaimer- I don't own any of this. None. Zero. Ziltch. Nadda. Nothing.
Hermione woke up early the next morning and hopped right into the bathroom. She showered and dressed, taking care to look over her appearance. Before, when she was at Hogwarts with Harry and Ron, her appearance hadn't really mattered to her. She had so many other things going on and the wizarding world to help save, so it didn't really matter if every hair was in place. This year, thought, she had already taken all the courses. She wasn't nervous about the classwork or the teachers, she was more worried about the other students and how she was going to be received. Being new always made everyone pay more attention, and she was sure she was only getting a fraction of the attention that Harry used to receive on a daily basis.
Checking her appearance one more time and making sure that the cardigan she was wearing was covering her scar; she went back into the dormitory to see that the other girls had started waking up. Well, two of them were awake and attempting to pull a third out of bed.
"Sorry I didn't introduce myself last night, I was exhausted. I'm Hermione Granger," she said to the three new girls.
"Hi, I'm Mary," said a pretty girl with long chocolate brown hair. "This is Dorcas Meadows," she pointed to a girl with beautiful caramel colored skin and long black hair. "And this lump over here is Marlene McKinnon, who will smell because of her lack of shower and be grumpy because she missed breakfast if she doesn't get her arse up right now!" Mary yelled. Between the two of them, Dorcas and Mary managed to pull the blanket out from under Marlene and spin her off the bed. She landed with a thump.
Hermione looked at Lily, who was setting getting her uniform out of her trunk. "Does that happen often?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, usually once a week- she is not a morning person," Lily explained as Marlene had gotten up with a scowl on her face and marched over to the bathroom.
"You will thank up when you have showered and eaten some bacon," Dorcas told her. Marlene stumbled at the word bacon, but then continued on to the bathroom.
"Well I'm ready, so I'm going to head down. I think I remember the way from last night. I'll see you down there?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, I've got to get ready and we will meet you down there," Lily offered.
Hermione grabbed her bag and walked down the stairs. She was surprised to see the Marauders sitting on a couple of the couches. When they saw her they all stood up and walked over.
"Since you were with Evans last night and it took you bloody forever, we thought we should take you down to breakfast and show you how to navigate the castle like a Marauder," Sirius offered.
"That would be lovely," Hermione said and they walked out of the portrait. The boys showed her some of the secret passageways that would save her time on her travels around the castle. Hermione knew all of them already, and she felt like she had been taught all of these secrets from the same group of boys. Hermione didn't know how many times she had looked at the Marauders Map, but there was something extra special about being shown in person. She made sure to 'oooh' and 'ahh' at all the right times and act like she was thoroughly impressed. By the time they walked into the Great Hall the boys were walking with a definite spring in their step.
"So when do we find out about our classes," Hermione asked.
"McGonagall will come around and pass out our timetables. It's a bit different this year because we are all taking different classes," Remus explained.
They loaded their plates with delicious food and had just begun talking when James looked up at something behind Hermione back. Lily, Mary, Dorcas, and Marlene were standing behind her. This was the first time that Hermione had a chance to get a good look at Marlene- and she was beautiful. Marlene had curly blonde hair and tanned skin, and she had a tall frame while still maintaining the curves most women dreamt of having.
"Morning Evans," he said.
"Potter," Lily said back.
"Good morning. Do you guys want to sit with us?" Hermione asked. Lily looked unsure at this, but took a seat next to Hermione and the other girls followed.
Hermione turned towards the boys and they were all looking at her with a look of unbelieving.
"What's wrong with you guys? Did someone confundo you?" Hermione joked.
"You got Lily Evans to sit within ten feet of James Potter," Peter explained.
"Oh, that's never happened before?"
"Never- well, not since first year when he switched her teacup for a nose-biting one," Remus said.
Hermione looked at James, who was sitting across from her, than to Lily who was talking away with Mary, and back to James. "Don't screw it up. Don't ask her out, don't compliment her, and only speak to her when necessary. No- scratch that. Only talk to her when it's appropriate to the conversation," Hermione whispered. James nodded his head with his eyes wide, taking in everything that Hermione was telling him.
"So Lily, what classes are you taking?" Hermione asked.
"All the core ones- Defense, Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, History of Magic, Herbology and Astronomy- but I'm also taking Arithmancy and Ancient Runes."
"I'm taking all of those as well," Hermione said. Hoping for a chance to join the two groups around her into one, she asked the boys what they were taking for classes.
"Defense, Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, Herbology and Astronomy- but I'm also taking Divination and Care of Magical Creatures," James answered.
"Same as James here, except for Divination it's Muggle Studies," Sirius said.
"Really, why muggle studies?" Hermione asked.
"Because, being a pureblood, I don't really know much about them, but I'm fascinated. Also to piss my mum off," he added. "I would love to be able to see the look in her face when she finds out that I received an N.E.W.T. in Muggle Studies."
Hermione knew that Sirius had a very complicated relationship with his family, but needed to pretend otherwise.
"Your mother doesn't like muggles?" Hermione asked.
"I was raised in one of those pureblood mania families where they think the right thing to do is for wizards to control the world and have muggles as whimpering servants. And as a member of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black, we would be considered just about royalty," he said with a sullen look. He quickly realized that he was talking to someone who didn't really know him all that well and added "But I don't think that way. It's the reason I left."
"You ran away from home," Lily asked suddenly.
"Yeah, over the summer- I had about had it. Mum saw my O.W.L. results and didn't like that I received an O in Muggle Studies. Some… stuff happened and I packed my bags. I've been living at the Potters ever since," he said.
Lily looked at James with a new found softness in her eyes. Hermione wondered if Lily was feeling sympathy for the young Black boy because of the troubles that Lily had at her own home with her sister.
"It was really nice of you to let him live with you," Lily said.
"There was no other choice. I would always help a friend in need, and he's more like a brother to me," he said with an intense look in his eyes when he stared back at Lily. He softened them after a minute and added with a chuckle "Plus, I'm pretty sure my mum loves him more than me."
"Oh there's no doubt about it, I'm Mrs. P's favorite now," Sirius said with a huge smile. It was obvious how much he loved his new found mother figure, and Hermione felt her heart tug. If anyone deserved a little extra love in their life, it was Sirius Black.
Professor McGonagall came around and handed them their timetables and she saw that the first thing they had was double Transfiguration.
Sirius looked up suddenly, and said to other three "Yes, first thing. Come one guys, we have to set everything up while she is still distracted." Then he turned and put his hand on the small of Hermione's back to get her attention. "We have to go- important Marauders business. Walk up to class with Lily and the girls, okay?"
Hermione narrowed her eyes, and she had a feeling she knew what this was about, but what was she going to do. She nodded her head and rolled her eyes. The four boys jumped up and ran towards the staircase. Hermione didn't want to notice the slight tingle on her back where Sirius had just removed his hand.
"Do I want to know?" Lily dared to ask.
"No, but you will find out shortly. I think it's something to do with McGonagall's class," Hermione explained.
Lily had a devious smile on her face. "Oh, good. I know it's horrible, but I do love to watch her yell at them!"
The girl finished eating and made their way to their first class, and when Hermione looked down to the bottom of the door, she knew she was right. There was a small square cut out of the bottom of the door with a flap on it that had paw prints on it. Hermione looked at the four girls and pointed to the kitty door. All of them had to fight to hold in their giggles.
Shaking her head, she walked inside to see the boys sitting in the middle row of the classroom, just staring at the door.
"You really needed to do that on the first day back," Hermione asked.
"Hell yeah! You're the one who gave us the idea," James said.
Lily gave Hermione a questioning look.
"It was an accident. I didn't tell them to do it," Hermione explained as here and Lily walked over to the front row, right in front of the Marauders.
Lily leaned over to Hermione and said "I hate the fact that I think this one is so funny."
Hermione smiled, and started unpacking her things. The classroom was steadily filling up and soon they were just waiting for Professor McGonagall. The door opened and she walked in.
"Good morning everyone- today will be a refresher class. Before we begin I want to make sure that everyone has their books," she looked around to check that everyone had the required text.
Hermione chanced a look behind her and saw that all of the Marauders faces were cast in disappointment. McGonagall hadn't said anything about the new addition to her classroom. Whether it was because she hadn't noticed or because she didn't want to give them the satisfaction of getting to her on the first day, Hermione didn't know. But what she did know was that if the Marauders didn't get what they wanted, they would keep going until they did.
"Last year we worked on Vanishing spells. I would like to revisit that today, only this time we will be using nonverbal spells," Professor McGonagall explained. She went on to explain the importance of nonverbal spells, and the proper way to insure success in using them.
While everyone around her was busily taking notes, Hermione was feeling a little bit more relaxed. She was taking a few notes, but not up to her usual standard. She had already mastered this two years ago, so she gave herself a little bit of a break.
Suddenly, all of the legs of the stools were being transfigured into scratching posts, there were small kitty toys with bells inside rolling around on the floor, and there was yarn hanging down from the ceiling everywhere you looked. Professor McGonagall tried to carry on with the lesson, but she lost it when she looked down and saw a red and gold cat collar with little black paw prints was sitting on top of her book.
"Really, I can't get through one class without these ridiculous interruptions. Potter, Black, Lupin, and Pettigrew, five points from Gryffindor- each- and detention tomorrow night. I can't believe…in and N.E.W.T. class… troublesome boys… cat toys, really…" McGonagall was mumbling to herself.
"You forgot about the cat door," Sirius added with a winning smile.
McGonagall's mouth twitched, and then she simply stared at him as if daring to say another word to interrupt her classroom. When she had broken the stare, she waved her wand once and everything was back the way it was- except for the kitty door, but she was hoping no one noticed that (they did).
The rest of the class passed uneventfully, with the rest of the Gryffindor's earning back the points that the Marauders had lost. When class was over, everyone packed up their things and headed to the library. They had a free period before lunch and everyone was anxious to get the essay that McGonagall had assigned for them out of the way.
The group squeezed a couple of tables together and started to work. Having such a large group all working on the same assignment meant that it was easy to ask questions get advice on certain things. Everyone had finished before they left for lunch.
After lunch Remus, Hermione, Lily, and Dorcas all went to Arithmancy, while everyone else (except for Remus) went to Care of Magical Creatures, and after that they all met in the dungeons for potions.
Hermione was secretly excited for potions, because they were going to have it with the Slytherins. She didn't know whether or not Snape was going to take her seriously or not about sitting together, but Hermione had every intention of reminding him.
By the time they arrived, there were only a couple of minutes before class was to start. The group of Gryffindors all made to sit on one side of the classroom, because the Slytherin's had taken over the other side. When she walked in, Hermione noticed that Snape was sitting at a table by himself with his nose in his book, scribbling away. Smiling to herself, she headed over to the empty spot next to him.
"Hermione, we have a seat for you over here," Mary offered. When Mary had said her name, Snape looked up.
Hermione shook her head. "I've already made plans to sit with Severus," she explained. She knew the repercussions of saying those words in the vicinity of so many Gryffindor's and Slytherin's, but it didn't make the stares any less uncomfortable.
Lily looked worried and uncomfortable, Mary looked confused, Dorcas' mouth dropped open, Marlene rolled her eyes, and all four of the Marauder boys simply glared at Snape.
Hermione walked over to the desk and started taking out her things.
"You know, if it's going to cause an issue with your… friends- you don't have to sit with me," Snape said.
"It's not a problem. Plus, if they're truly my friends they will respect my decision about who I chose to be my friends," Hermione said.
"So we're…friends," Snape said unenthused optimism.
"Yes, you've been very clear about your desire to be friends. You practically forced me to let you help me with my trunk on the platform, than you begged me to save you a seat if we had a class together, and now you have demanded that we be potions partners from here to eternity. You really need to hold back all of those happy-gooey-friendship-feelings," Hermione said in a mock teasing voice.
Snape's lips curled up in smile that reached all the way to his eye this time, and turned to look at her properly.
"I'm demanding that we partners from here to eternity?" He asked.
"See, you just said it. Now that it's settled, how is your first day back going," Hermione said.
Snape actually let out a little chuckle at this, and told her how his day had been. They didn't get too much further before Professor Slughorn entered the room announcing everyone to gather around a cauldron at the front of the room.
"Alright, class, today we are going to start on quite a challenging note. Can anyone tell me before we start brewing, what the potion is in this cauldron," Slughorn asked.
Hermione looked into the cauldron, just like everyone else, and was almost confused about why it looked like a pot of water. However, she knew what potion was in there, and even though it barley took her a second to recover from her bout of confusion- Snape's hand was already in the air.
"Mr. Snape," Slughorn called.
"It's Veritaserum- the truth potion. It's colorless and odorless," he answered.
"Correct! Five points to Slytherin. Now, can anyone tell me why this potion is so difficult to brew," Slughorn said. Lily's hand flew into the air.
"Miss. Evans," Slughorn said.
"It's because it takes one full lunar phase, or roughly 28 days, to brew the potion," she explained.
At this, Hermione let her eyes wonder over towards Remus. He was looking down at his book, pretending to read and be oblivious to what was being said around him. It was a few days before the full moon, and he was starting to look paler every time Hermione looked at him.
"Exactly, Miss. Evans, good work! Yes, excellent way to start off the class- something to get you into the brewing spirit. Today, I would like for you to turn to page 10. You will be brewing the Draught of Living Dead. Now, I have never had a student brew it in the one hour time that will be available to you today, but we will see where we are when time is up. Off you go," Slughorn announced.
Everyone got to work. Hermione looked over at Snape, who was already getting the flame under the cauldron started, so she figured that she would be the one to gather up all of their ingredients. Walking over to the store cupboard, she ran into Lily and Sirius, who were both gathering their own ingredients.
"Hermione, do you know what you are doing," Lily asked.
"I'm looking for Sopophorous beans. Why, am I doing it wrong," Hermione joked.
"Yeah, why are you sitting with Snivellus," Sirius sneered.
Hermione glared at him. "Why, are you jealous," Hermione teased.
Sirius didn't say anything, but his lips moved into a hard line. Lily was the one who answered for him.
"We are just worried for you. The Slytherin's have a tendency to be… aggressive towards Gryffindors. You're new here, and I just want to make sure you know what you're getting yourself into," Lily explained.
"Lily should know better than anyone, she used to be best friends with the bloody git until he went and insulted her in front of half the school. Called her-" Sirius said before Hermione interrupted him.
"Look, I really appreciate you guys for looking after me. He seems nice. He helped me with my trunk on the platform and we got to talking. I asked him if we could sit together if we had a class together. Thank you for worrying about me, but I'm fine. Now, if you will excuse me, I can see that the cauldron is ready and we need to get busy," Hermione said and she walked back to her table.
As they got to work, Snape kept looking at her out of the corner of his eyes. Eventually Hermione sighed and look right at him. "Is there something you want to ask me?"
"No," he answered. "I just don't want to be responsible for you being on the outs with your friends. I also don't want to be blamed for you being on the out with your friends," he answered stiffly.
"Everything is fine. I told them I wanted to work with you. It's my idea. And if they bother you, then they have me to answer too," Hermione replied.
"You know, there are not a lot of people who would willingly go up against the Marauders," he warned her.
"I'm not going up against anyone. If they have a problem with who I chose to be friends with, then that's their problem. And it will be their problem. I can handle myself and they're just going to have to get used to it," she said.
Snape face softened for a moment, but only for a moment, because then it was back to his passive mask. He looked down at the beans she was cutting and said "You know you're supposed to cut the beans, not crush them. If you want to fool around that's your business, but I take this class seriously."
Hermione smiled to herself for two reasons. She saw the look that he gave her, and her heart swelled. She was getting somewhere, and it felt triumphant. The second reason she smiled was because she had watched Harry make this potion before when he had the Half-Blood Prince's book, and while she was infuriated that he was doing so much better than her and he was following written instruction in a book, that didn't mean she didn't take notes.
"I don't doubt it; I can see that you have a talent for it. And I'm not fooling around-see? If you crush them like this, it releases more juice. See, look," she showed him.
Snape looked at her in amazement, grabbed a quill, and started writing in his book.
"Are you writing that down," she questioned.
"Yes, I like to document changes I make to potions. Things that make them easier, tips and shortcuts," he said. When he put down his quill, he started to stir the potion, seven times anticlockwise, and then once clockwise. Hermione knew what he was doing, and why he was doing it, but knew she should act otherwise.
"What are you doing? We're not supposed to stir clockwise," she said.
"Look," he said. It was the most beautiful shade of lilac. "Looks like you're not the only one with tricks."
"You should teach," Hermione said suddenly.
"I said, you should be a potions teacher," she said seriously. She didn't know where it came from, considering she didn't really like him as a teacher when she had him, but when you got to know him a little bit more Severus Snape was really easy to talk to. If he could learn to loosen up a little bit, he would make just as good a potions teacher as Remus did a Defense teacher. "You have great instincts, and you take advice well. You know what's important and how to communicate your ideas. I think your bedside manner could use a bit of work, but you would make a great teacher."
"You're not the first person to tell me that," he said quietly.
"I'm not? Who else told you that," Hermione asked.
"Someone who used to be a friend," he answered a little coldly.
Hermione didn't know if she should bring up the subject, but she summoned her Gryffindor courage and asked "Was it Lily?"
Snape gave a curt nod. It was clear that the rift between him and Lily was still painful. Hermione didn't know what to say in this moment. It was clear from what she said that she had some idea about what happened between the two former friends, but he wasn't forthcoming with anything else. Hermione decided to change the subject, and figured that if he wanted to talk about it, he would.
"Do you know if there is a Hogsmeade visit scheduled any time soon?"
Snape seemed to relax at the change in subject. "There is usually one the weekend before Halloween," he said.
"Good to know. My aunt owns the Three Broomsticks so I go down on weekends and help her out. I'll make sure that I'm not working that weekend so I can enjoy it," she answered.
Snape's eyes widen and his face colored a bit. "Your aunt is Madam Rosmerta," he asked.
"What is it with all of the blokes in this place having the hots for her? Is it because she had access to the firewhiskey?" Hermione joked.
Snape offered a smile, but before he could say anything else, Slughorn was walking towards them to check on their progress.
"Oh, my- would you look at that. I've never in my years of teaching had any students make this potion perfectly! Congratulations, you two. Mr. Snape I knew your talents would allow you to achieve great things, but Miss. Granger, I had no idea. Between the two of you, and Miss. Evans here, we have the makings of some great potioneers," Slughorn said joyfully.
There wasn't much for Hermione and Snape to do for the last few minutes of class; Hermione took a sample of their potion to give to Slughorn while Snape cleaned up their work space. Because they were done so early, they walked out of the classroom before anyone else.
"Are you going up to dinner," Snape asked.
"Yeah, but I'm going to wait for the rest of my friends. Play nice, you know," she said.
"Yeah, I suppose you all have some making up to do," he added with a sour note in his voice.
"Oh no, I don't have anything to make up for. They need to get over themselves if they're truly upset about this," she moved her finger to point at Snape and then back to herself. "But you have to get over it too. This is the last time I hear you question my dedication to this friendship. You can't get rid of me now, and I demand for you to stop using that self-deprecating tone and accept that, you're stuck with me."
Snape rolled his eyes and shook his head at this, but Hermione could see a pleased look behind it all.
"Alright, well I guess I'll see you around," Snape asked in a questioning tone.
"There is no question about it, I'll be here. See you," Hermione said.
Snape stared at her for a moment like he couldn't believe what she was saying, before turning around and walking down the hall toward the stairs.
Hermione didn't have to wait long before the other Gryffindors starting filing out of the classroom. She walked with them out of the room, no one mentioning the fact that she had just spent the whole class period with a Slytherin. The conversation was light- homework that had been assigned, what was for dinner, and upcoming classes.
Dinner went by quickly and before she knew it she was in bed. The evening had been spent in the library with Lily, Mary, Dorcas, and Marlene working on the rest of the homework that had been assigned for them that day. Hermione felt good about getting it out of the way, she hated when it felt like everything was starting to pile up on her. When it started getting late they all walked back up to Gryffindor tower. Hermione spent the remainder of the evening hanging out with the Marauders and playing chess.
It had been a nice day back. Hermione enjoyed her classes, experienced a Marauders prank first hand, made some headway with Snape, and made a good dent in her homework. It was such a nice day that Hermione almost felt guilty for being happy and enjoying the people around her. She missed her friends so much and she knew that they would all want for her to be happy and move on, but a part of her still yearned for the way it was in the future.
With thought of her friends, both past and present, Hermione fell asleep.