"The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason." -John Cage
Hermione, Harry, and Ron left the courtroom with the other members of the Wizengamot once Severus Snape had been removed by the Aurors to spend another night in Azkaban. Mrs. Weasley met them outside with Ginny in tow.
“So how was it?” Ginny inquired to Harry between kisses.
“Ummm… Surprising,” he replied, lost for words between looking at his precious Ginny and an utter loss of how to explain all that had transpired with Rowena Snape’s appearance.
“What Harry means to say,” Hermione interjected, “is that we found out that Snape has a sister, who has evidence that Dumbledore ordered Snape to kill him.”
“What?” Mrs. Weasley exclaimed with disbelief.
“Yeah, and Ron seemed to think she was gorgeous,” Hermione added with a laugh.
The teenagers had a hearty laugh while Molly Weasley stared with utter disbelief at her son. She was amazed but also glad that they could still joke after all the death that they had seen. She still wore her mourning robes in honor of Charlie and Percy.
“Let’s get back to Grimmauld Place,” Hermione offered. “It’s going to be a long day tomorrow and we’ll need our rest.”
In truth Hermione needed to reevaluate the day’s events in her mind. She had seen her Potions master transform from a fearsome tyrant to a kind man before her eyes.
“And,” she thought, “now I’m finding him attractive!”
The three Weasleys, Hermione, and Harry Apparated onto the dark street in front of number 12, Grimmauld Place. Silently, they entered, careful not to awaken the portrait of Mrs. Black, who had been particularly monstrous since Sirius had died. Once safely in the kitchen, Mrs. Weasley began cooking a midnight feast for the boys.
“Now, tomorrow you three have to get up bright and early,” she began. “The sentencing is at noon, and afterwards I thought we’d make a quick run to Diagon Alley. Now that Minerva has decided to re-open the school, you’ll all need to gather your books and supplies. Oh my! One last year for my Ronald, and you’ll be out in the world getting a job!” she added, pinching Ron’s cheeks for good measure.
“Ouch! Mum, you can stop that now!” Ron replied, pushing her away.
Harry and Ginny started laughing playfully, as Ginny sat on his lap. Hermione decided that this atmosphere was not going to allow her anytime to think about her new discoveries, so she got up from the table.
“I’m off to bed,” she announced. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
After everyone told her goodnight, Hermione made her way upstairs to the room she would be sharing with Ginny, if Ginny wasn’t too busy sneaking off to Harry’s room to ‘snuggle’. She changed into her flannel pajamas, and crawled under the duvet.
“So it seems that Snape is innocent and good looking if he took the time to do something with himself,” she thought.
She envisioned him with shorter hair, a slight tan, and a more compassionate expression. She imagined what he might look like laughing. The images of Snape danced in her mind as she drifted off to sleep, and she did little to combat the crush that she was beginning to form.
The night passed quickly, and before anyone realized it, morning had arrived. Hermione awoke to Ginny shaking her shoulders with vigor.
“’Mione. ‘Mione, wake up! Wake up!” Ginny shouted.
“Wha… What?” Hermione sputtered, removing herself from the bizarre dream she was having about Snape inviting her to a dinner party, when he suddenly turned into the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Crookshanks had been the Cheshire Cat, Umbridge was the Queen of Hearts, and she had been Alice.
“Come on, ‘Mione!” Ginny prodded. “Mum says we’ve got letters from Hogwarts.”
Hermione quickly changed into the dress robes she would be wearing to the sentencing. Urged on by the grumbling of her stomach and the sumptuous smell of a Weasley breakfast, she ran down the stairs. She saw the boys already seated at the kitchen table. Ron looked like a corpse; he did not seem to have slept well. Ginny had taken up her usual seat on Harry’s lap, much to Mrs. Weasley’s discomfort.
Ginny handed Hermione a crisp envelope with her name scrawled beautifully across the front in black ink. She tore the Hogwarts seal off the back and, sitting at the table next to Harry and Ginny, she tore hungrily at the contents of the envelope. She read eagerly the words on the parchment as if trying to devour them whole.
“What’s it say, ‘Mione?” Ron asked, between mouthfuls of bacon.
“Oh, the usual; textbook and supply list, and something assuring parents that life at Hogwarts will go on as usual…” Suddenly Hermione stopped and turned back to the very last sheet in the bundle. “Oh, that’s new!” she exclaimed.
Mrs. Weasley turned from her cooking. The whole kitchen was listening to Hermione intently.
“What?” Hermione asked. “Haven’t you read yours yet?”
Mumbled excuses came from Ginny, Harry and Ron.
“Go on, dear,” Mrs. Weasley encouraged. “Why don’t you read it aloud?”
“We are pleased to know that you will be returning to Hogwarts to complete your NEWT level courses,” Hermione read. “You may be surprised to learn that due to low enrollment in your year, we will now be offering paired sleeping arrangements, instead the usual dormitory style you may be accustomed to from past years…. And we are proud to inform you that you have been elected Head Girl by the staff…”
“How wonderful!” Molly Weasley exclaimed.
“We all knew it’d be you, Hermione,” Harry agreed.
“And therefore,” Hermione continued reading, “you will be afforded your own private sleeping chambers. Also, you will have exclusive access to your own bathroom. However to accommodate this, you have been relocated to the southwest tower. You will still have full access to the Gryffindor Tower…”
“Well then I guess we should open our letters and see who we’ve been paired with,” Harry suggested.
“Ha! Why bother? I bet you and Ron are together anyway,” Ginny laughed.
Harry opened his envelope and confirmed Ginny’s suspicions.
“Darn! That means neither of us is Head Boy,” joked Ron.
They all had a good laugh, and continued to consume their breakfast with good natured humor, but at the back of their minds, they all wondered how things were going to progress at Hogwarts without Dumbledore and Hagrid. Molly Weasley collected their school lists and promised to pick them up to go shopping after the sentencing. Then, each of them disappeared into the green flames in the fireplace.
They arrived at the Ministry early to avoid the crowds. They were certain that many witches and wizards would gather to see if Severus Snape would be convicted or acquitted of his crimes. They walked silently down the long stone corridors to the large courtroom. Outside, Tonks was guarding the door, preventing unsavory or unruly people from entering the courtroom.
“Hey, Tonks,” Harry said, waving to the new Mrs. Lupin.
“Hey there, Harry. You three ready for today? It could get pretty intense in there,” she replied.
They nodded. Each had been doing a fair share of thinking on which way they would vote today.
“Anyone else in there yet?” Ron asked.
“Yeah,” replied Tonks. “Rowena Snape is there. She said she wanted to get a good seat. She didn’t want her brother to feel that he was alone during the sentencing.”