AN: Thank you all so much for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
Violet poked her bran muffin. Was it necessary to serve this three days in a row? Sure it's healthier than Fruit Loops, but the least they could do is allow us to put some butter on it.
The Slytherin table erupted into whispers. Around her students were tugging on each others sleeves and pointing to the head table. Violet shrugged and took a bite of her muffin.
The other student pointed to the front of the room. "Look who's back."
Violet raised an eyebrow before turning around. Her face lit up.
So Dad did allow Rose to return.
"Did you know she was coming back?"
"No," Violet answered. "I thought she was still watching TV at Grandma's."
"I'm so glad the radiation from the television didn't melt her brain," a sixth year began.
"Television doesn't contain radiation," Violet replied.
"Then how does it rot your brain?"
"Huh. Why do people say it does then?"
"Because they know that if wizards started watching soap operas they'd never want to return to the Wizarding World."
"What's a soap opera?"
Before Violet could answer, a second year shouted, "Excuse me!"
He held the tray over his head as he made his way to the Ravenclaw table. As he walked past everyone, he noticed several Ravenclaws staring at the head table. Some grinned while others gave a small wave. In the distance he could see a few Hufflepuffs doing likewise. As he trudged through the crowd, he could not help but overhear the comments made by a certain red-headed Weasley.
Molly huffed. "I cannot believe she is allowed to show her face around here."
The girl beside her took a sip of milk.
"Professor Khan was so much nicer than her. She never gave me a detention or made a snide comment at us."
"She still gave us essays though."
"Maybe, but it was better than listening to Professor Rose bark at us," Molly continued. "Perhaps I shouldn't get upset over this. When my daddy takes over the Ministry, the first thing he is going to do is fire her."
Another Gryffindor asked through chewed food, "Fhow can he fhire mher? Fhe isn' the Fheadmmaster."
"Daddy wants to make sweeping changes to the school," Molly continued, her voice growing louder with each word. "One of them is going to be that the government will have more say over Hogwarts, and if necessary, the ability to fire a headmaster."
A seventh year turned to her and put a finger over his mouth.
"Once a more reasonable headmaster is in play we'll finally get rid of gits like Professor Rose," Molly continued.
Molly gasped. "How dare you tell me to shush."
"Damnit Molly, she just saved the entire Slytherin house. The least you can do is show her a little bit of respect."
Molly raised her chin. "I refuse to respect someone who is so cruel to us."
"Then speak softer," he argued
"I'll speak as loudly as I want."
Another seventh year piped in, "Shut up, Molly. Nobody wants to hear it."
"Well apparently people do…"
"If you don't can it then we're telling Headmaster Longbottom about your midnight rendezvous with Soren."
Molly crossed her arms over her chest and pouted.
In the meantime, several other Gryffindors waved at Professor Rose.
Rose continued eating, with a hint of a smile gracing her face.
Any positive feelings towards the students evaporated by third period.
Four cauldron explosions in third period was frustrating enough, but none of the fifth years could handle their eel eyes without dropping them. It would take at least an hour to sweep them up, and another hour to mop up any gunky residue. House elves had in the past proven to be inept at this task, so she'd need a human. Thanks to Professor Khan's desire to be loved rather than feared, nobody was serving a potions detention. Making matters worse was the fact that it was Scorpius' week to oversee detentions. Although she considered assigning them for her class, she knew Headmaster Longbottom would hear none if it. Rose needed to rest, not that cleaning up eel's eyes constituted rest…
She looked at the doorway. "What do you need, Dolores?"
The student stepped inside the now empty yet filthy classroom. "I just wanted you to know that I'm glad you're back. Things weren't the same without you."
Before Rose could react, the student hugged her.
"Yes," Rose's lips curled up. "I am quite happy to be back."
It was uncanny how every time Rose reached the end of her rope, a student came to give her a shred of hope for wizardkind.
Hermione shook her head and lifted her head from the pensieve. "All of the victims' memories are too fuzzy to make any sense of them."
"Great," Severus growled.
Hermione picked up another vial. "We can try one more memory, but I am beginning to think our energies would be better spent elsewhere."
Severus exhaled. "That is probably wise."
Hermione tapped her foot. "When speaking with the victims, it's clear that they know what occurred immediately before their episode; yet the memories in the pensieve are too vague."
"Why would that be?"
"I don't know, but it must be significant."
"Perhaps that discrepancy is the key to determining the source of this amnesia."
"Perhaps," Hermione's eyes lit up. "Perhaps the hour or so before the amnesia is when the magic causing all this begins to flare up. The victims may not feel its effects yet, but it's already beginning to affect the brain."
Severus nodded. "That is feasible."
"What isn't feasible is interviewing every victim and hoping we collect enough data before the full moon."
"No, that sounds too arduous of a task."
"Still, we do have somewhat of a test subject in you," Hermione drawled. "Perhaps if I accessed the memories you had immediately after the episode I could determine how long this magic stays in a wizard's system."
"Once we determine that we could at least begin to narrow down a few curses and perhaps a few potions."
"That's what I am hoping for anyway," Hermione replied. "In the meantime though, we should continue go through the memories of those who witnessed an episode. At the very least we can begin to deduce a pattern of who is affected and who is not. If we're lucky their memories will render the victims' accounts unnecessary."
"Indeed," Severus replied.
Hermione sighed. "I think we should quit for tonight."
"Agreed," Severus embraced her. "Now that we're through, have I told you lately how beautifully intelligent you are?"
"You have," Hermione purred. "That being said I never tire of hearing it."
Severus brushed his lips against hers.
Behind them, the fireplace was aflame.
Severus tightened his grip on Hermione and growled. "Perhaps if we ignore it then our unwelcome guest will disappear."
Hermione moaned. "Knowing our luck though, our visitor will have the key to resolving this whole crisis."
"Indeed," Severus conceded.
Together, they strolled towards the fireplace. Severus raised an eyebrow upon reaching his destination. "Headmaster Longbottom?"
"Oh good, I was afraid you might not be at home," Headmaster Longbottom began. "I do apologize if I've interrupted anything."
Severus' stomach sank. "Is Rose well?"
Neville smiled. "She is doing quite well. The students are happy to see her, and I believe that despite her usual grumblings, she is happy to be back performing her duties."
"She did not overexert herself, did she?"
"It did not appear so."
"When was the last time you saw her?"
"An hour ago at dinner."
"In other words, she could be doing rather poorly now and you would not know it."
Severus glanced at her and frowned.
"I'm sorry," Hermione giggled. "It's just, that nobody ever thought the big bad potions master would ever fret so much over his daughter's safety."
"Witch, I spent a fortune putting my daughter through the university. I simply want to ensure that my investment bears fruit."
Hermione laughed harder.
Severus shook his head and muttered, "I am glad to hear that Rose seems to be doing well."
"Her improved health is not the only good news I have for you."
"Oh?" Hermione caught her breath.
"Are you ready to catch?" Neville asked.
Hermione and Severus held out their arms.
Neville tossed something into the fireplace, which the couple caught. Severus examined the bag. "What is it?"
"Those are the memories from all the professors."
"You did not need to give them to us until Wednesday."
"Yes, but every professor, save Rose, has donated their memories."
"All of them?"
"All of them."
Hermione pressed the bag against her chest. "Please give them our sincerest thanks."
"No," Neville answered. "They all want to thank you for working to find a cure. We know how much we've already asked of you, and we thank you for your efforts."
"Still, we are quite grateful."
"Indeed we are."
Neville hummed. "Sadly I cannot stay and chat for long. I just thought you should know that your daughter has finished teaching for the day. If you would like to chat with her she should be available."
Severus' bottom lip twitched.
"Thank you Neville," Hermione replied with a warm expression.
"Indeed, you have our sincerest gratitude," Severus added, his expression lighter.
The flames died.
Hermione glanced at Severus. "Would you like to resume our previous activities, or would you like to speak to Rose first?"
"Why don't you clean up the penseive while I floo our daughter? Assuming she is as healthy as Neville claims," there was a gleam in his eyes. "I would very much like to conclude our previous discussion."
Hermione purred, "I very much look forward to it."