“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another, unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” -Anais Nin
The weekend passed after Halloween, and many students spent it nursing their hangovers from the punch. On Sunday morning, Hermione awoke to a pleasant knock at her door. She rose from bed, putting on a robe over her pajamas.
She opened the door, expecting that Ginny had come to confess about where she and Harry had been on Halloween. She was taken by surprise when she found that it was not Ginny at the door.
“Good morning, Miss Granger,” Rowena Snape said cheerfully.
“Professor! Good morning,” Hermione exclaimed.
“Miss Granger, I do so hate to disturb your sleep. However, I was wondering if you would do me the pleasure of joining me for tea on Monday evening, in my office.”
“Very good. If you could please show up after dinner, then. I would love to know more about Hogwarts’ most promising student,” she announced, turning on her heel and walking away.
Hermione stood in the doorway, stunned by shock. She wondered if Professor Rowena somehow knew that she dreamt of her unattainable older brother. She prayed that her affection was not so blatantly written on her face, like a pathetic infant. Hermione threw herself back into bed with a grunt, fearing that Rowena knew what she felt for Severus. She slept away the rest of the day, and only awoke again on Monday morning. She saw no reason to awake, as she did not want to face her friends.
Monday, Ron, Hermione and Harry had Defense first, followed by double Potions for Harry and Hermione. In Defense, Professor Rowena announced that they would now begin learning Occlumency. Harry let out an exasperated groan, and Hermione nearly hit him with her wand for such a display of disrespect and immaturity. She was on a mission to present herself as a grown woman.
“Now, this is a very difficult form of magic. It involves a thorough control over your thoughts and emotions. Very few of you will be able to do it successfully,” Rowena Snape announced to the class.
A few students looked disappointed.
“Don’t be discouraged. Many full-grown wizards cannot close off their minds. As I said, you will need supreme control over your mind,” she continued.
For the remainder of the class, the students copied some theory on the history of the art. The bell tolled; Harry and Hermione made their way to the dungeons.
“Today, you will brew a Serenity Serum. Although it is a simple thing to brew, I‘m prepared for some of you to botch it,” Professor Snape announced, looking directly at Harry. “You should have a finished Serum by the end of the class, and you will hand in a phial containing your Serum. This will be worth ten percent of your final grade, so I suggest that you do not mess up.”
The class exploded with activity. Hermione quickly measured one pound of lilac, and began chopping at it with great speed. Harry followed her lead, but at a much slower pace. She placed 12 ounces of crystal water in her cauldron, warming it over a low flame. Then she added her coarsely chopped lilac, until the Serum turned faintly purple. Then she measured out the precise amounts of chamomile, rose pollen, dragon scales, gold dust, and unicorn hair. She stirred the bubbling solution exactly one hundred times, in a counter-clockwise direction. At last, it turned a perfect azure blue, and Hermione knew that the Serum was complete.
Hermione removed a phial from her supplies, and using her wand, engraved her name on it. She placed a dose of her Serum in the phial and corked it, carefully. She made her way to Snape’s desk; she was the first one done.
“Finished, Miss Granger?” he asked suspiciously. He knew she was intelligent but he was surprised that she had finished only two minutes over his all-time record.
“Yes, sir,” she said, proud of how the potion had turned out.
She made the last step to his desk, extending the hand with her phial across the desk. He reached out to take it and as he did, his hand brushed hers for the briefest moment. Hermione blushed and let go of the phial too quickly, causing it to shatter on Snape’s desk.
Both of them leapt back. Hermione wished to dive under a table somewhere and never emerge again. She was highly embarrassed. She held her breath, waiting for the Potions master to unleash his temper upon her.
“Gather another phial of your potion, Miss Granger,” he instructed dryly, cleaning away the mess with a flick of his wand.
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir,” she murmured.
“Just go bottle another phial, and hand it in,” he said.
Hermione quickly bottled another dose of the Serum and handed it in. She cleaned up her supplies, and left when the bell tolled for lunch. She mentally chided herself for behaving so foolishly in front of him.
“Where’s Hermione?” Harry asked, as he, Ginny, and Ron sat in the common room Monday night after supper.
“Probably off in the Library, with her nose in some dumb book,” Ron surmised.
Hermione knocked lightly on the Defense teacher’s office door. She heard some shuffling in the room.
“Come in,” Rowena called.
Hermione opened the door. The office was beautifully decorated. The walls were painted a deep crimson, and the curtains were dark chocolate brown. The furniture was a light cream color. Rowena Snape was wearing jeans and a sweater. She looked relaxed and at ease.
“Good evening, Miss Granger” she said sweetly, holding a glass of white wine in her hand.
“Good evening, Professor.”
“Please, call me Rowena.”
“Can I offer you a glass of wine?” Rowena asked, gesturing to the open bottle on the table.
“I don’t think I can accept, Pro…erm…Rowena.”
“I’m only seventeen. My eighteenth birthday isn’t for a few more weeks,” Hermione replied.
“My dear, you only need to be seventeen in the wizarding world.”
“Oh,” Hermione said, surprised that she did not already know this.
Rowena conjured up a glass and filled it with wine. She sent the glass to Hermione with the flick of her wand.
“Thanks,” Hermione said, taking a seat next to Rowena and taking a sip of the wine.
“So, tell me about yourself, Hermione,” said Rowena Snape.
Professor McGonagall rose from her seat in the Great Hall, Thursday morning, at breakfast.
“Students, I should hope that you enjoyed the Halloween Ball, as I am pleased to announce that we will be having a Pre-Christmas Ball, two days before the start of winter holidays.”
Gunny nudged Harry, who kissed her in return. Hermione let out a moan, as Ron eyed her inquisitively.