“Life is just a chance to grow a soul.” -A. Powell Davies
The first week passed by in a blur. Harry grumbled over Potions incessantly, and Hermione wondered how Ginny put up with him. Professor Snape seemed to have lost his passion for mocking Hermione’s know-it-all-ism, and focused his energy instead on Harry, who was certain he was heading for failure.
Monday morning arrived and brought with it the newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. All the students were seated amicably in the Great Hall, when the Headmistress rose and announced that from today on DADA classes would resume.
“Students, I am pleased to inform you that our newest staff member has arrived and is patiently awaiting all Defense Against the Dark Arts students,” she announced.
“Hey, Harry, don’t we have double Defense first thing today?” Ron asked.
“Nope, not until after lunch. We have double Potions first,” Harry grumbled.
“Ha! I dropped that class,” Ron laughed, as he had dropped out of potions earlier that morning.
“Well I can’t. Aurors need Potions,” Harry sighed.
“At least you can look forward to Defense,” Ginny offered, kissing Harry gently on the cheek.
Harry and Hermione made their way to the dungeons for yet another Advanced Potions lesson with Professor Snape. There was nothing extraordinary about this day; they simply took their seats and began the potion which Snape had detailed on the board. They brewed the base for the potion, which would take them the whole week to create, in relative silence, as Snape paced from one end of the room to the next. Hermione followed him with her eyes.
“Miss Granger, perhaps your potion would benefit if you spent less time watching me and more time paying attention to what it is that you are doing,” he said silkily.
“Yes, Professor,” she squeaked, focusing her eyes only on her work for the rest of the class.
The moment the bell tolled, she collected her supplies and dashed from the room, looking back once, to find him looking at her with an amused expression. She ran to the Great Hall for lunch, flinging her books on the bench beside her. Soon after, Ron, Harry, and Ginny took their usual spots beside her.
“Tough class?” Ginny asked, noticing Hermione’s obvious frustration.
“Not really. I just think I have a bad headache from brewing that potion,” she replied, attempting to act calm.
They ate lunch, talking mostly of the upcoming Hogsmeade weekend. Hermione was thankful that Snape did not come down to lunch today, as she would have found his presence and gaze unbearable. Whenever she was around him lately, her stomach squirmed and her heart raced.
Harry, Hermione and Ron made their way to Defense Against the Dark Arts class with excitement. Harry came up with the theory that McGonagall brought Lupin back. He believed that Lupin could not be here until today because of the moon cycle. Hermione knew that the full moon was still a week away, but she did not have the heart to disprove Harry’s theory.
Ron entered the classroom first, followed by Harry then Hermione. They were surprised to find that they were the last students to arrive and their new professor was nowhere to be seen. At last, the bell tolled, and the door opened once more to reveal a black-shod foot and a glimpse of flowing ruby robe. Soon their new Professor was fully in the door, and making her way to her desk.
Harry and Ron’s mouths gaped open. Hermione looked mildly intrigued. The rest of their class, comprised of all seventh year students in all houses, hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on, except those who had seen a snap shot of her in the Daily Prophet.
“Good afternoon, class,” she greeted, her voice sounded far more musical now than it had in the cold stone courtroom. “I’m Professor Snape; however, please call me Rowena, to alleviate confusion with your other Professor Snape.”
A few students gasped. Ron looked to Harry as if to ask if this was really happening.
“I am aware that many of you fought in the war, and already possess advanced skills in defense. Therefore, we will be focusing our studies on Wand-less Magical Combat this year. Five points to the house of the student who can best explain Wand-less Magical Combat or Wand-less Magical Dueling,” she announced.
Hermione’s hand shot up.
“Wand-less Magical Combat and Dueling are highly advanced forms of ancient magic. They involve performing all the usual dueling spells without the use of a wand. The witch or wizard must cast and evade spells using only their focused mind,” Hermione stated.
“That is correct. Five points for Gryffindor.”
That night, Harry, Ginny, and Ron went down to dinner, leaving Hermione in the library to do research for an Arithmancy paper. They sat down to a meal of hearty stew, biscuits, dumplings, puddings and spotted dick. Once their stomachs were full, and the great Hall plunged into a satisfied silence, Professor McGonagall rose and cleared her throat.
“Students, I have a very special announcement for you. To add some much needed cheer, I have decided that Hogwarts will reinstate its once traditional Balls. These will be similar to the Yule Ball that was held here a few years ago. The first is scheduled for Halloween, and the dress code is formal to black-tie.”
The volume in the Hall rose with enormous force. A few girls screeched and screamed wildly with pleasure. Ginny’s face was alight and Ron was crestfallen.
“I have to go owl Mum for some money. I’m going to need a new dress,” said Ginny, as they walked back up to the common room.
“Don’t worry about that, I’ll buy you the most beautiful dress in Hogsmeade,” Harry said gallantly.
Ginny swung her arms around Harry’s neck and she kissed him wildly, nearly knocking him to the ground.
“Shouldn’t we tell Hermione?” Ron asked, cringing at his sister’s public displays of lust.
“In the morning. She’s probably in bed by now,” said Ginny, as they climbed into the portrait hole.