Summary of Chapter Four - Occlumency the First
On his first attempt to legilimise Hermione, Severus finds that Hermione has taught herself how to shield her mind. Though he is impressed with her achievement, he explains that shielding is not what will help her with her nightmares. He will have to delve into her mind in order to teach her how to occlude her thoughts instead. When Hermione is reluctant, he promises her that he won't pry into memories or thoughts they both consider private. On his second attempt, he conquers her shields easily enough and witnesses multiple memories involving her friends, which tell him that Hermione is emotionally and physically exhausted. He lets her sleep on a couch in his office for a couple of hours while he is working in the lab. He also decides that he'll have to talk to Minerva regarding Hermione's sleeping problems.
Severus had spoken to Minerva right the next day, making a proposal that she had found quite baffling, probably mostly because it was coming from him. She had been much more surprised at his involvement than the girl whom he had called to his office later, to ask her if she was willing to become Miss Granger's roommate for the remainder of the year. As a matter of fact, she hadn't been surprised at all. She had merely looked at him with her slightly protruding, misty eyes and had said a few things that he had found surprising and quite baffling, too.
Apart from that encounter, his week had been reasonably quiet. He hadn't spoken to Hermione – Miss Granger! – outside class, although he had seen her in the library a couple of times. She had always nodded politely and turned her attention back to her books. Once or twice, she had thrown him a curious glance, as if she was wondering why he was talking to the librarian so frequently, just as he had been wondering why she could be found sitting with Draco all the time.
He had directed a few, subtle glances in her direction as well, something which had become a habit by now. She had still looked tired, but with her level of exhaustion, it would take a while before she got her reserves back, provided she was sleeping a little bit better now. In class, she had really made an effort to stay focused, so he hadn't been forced to reprimand her any more.
Still, he thought it wise to take it slowly with her extra-curricular lessons. He knew from experience that it was draining to have one's mind attacked, even more so if one was trying to defend it by raising shields. If he was being entirely honest, he wasn't really keen on delving into her mind again; he still found the intimacy unsettling. But he intended to keep his word and teach her – he just wanted to make sure that her magical and physical reserves were stronger before he did.
He needed more time with her, but giving her more detentions was not an option. When pondering how to resolve this issue, an idea had formed in his mind, but he still wasn't sure if it was a wise one. Would she even agree to the proposal, if he could bring himself to actually make it? He could just about imagine Minerva's face when he approached her about her precious Gryffindor a second time – especially with that particular suggestion...
Punctually as ever, he heard the expected knock at his office door. "Do come in, Miss Granger," he called, only briefly looking up from the essay he was correcting.
"Good evening, Professor Snape," she greeted, and he had a hard time appearing unaffected when she smiled at him as openly and disarmingly as she had the night she had slept on his couch. She approached his desk, about to sit down in the chair opposite from him, but he stopped her right away: "No need to get comfortable – you'll be cleaning cauldrons tonight. The first years tried their hand at a sticking paste today. Nasty potion. It always takes hours to get the remains out of the cauldrons."
Her face fell. She stared at him with disbelieving eyes, unsure if he was joking.
He waved his wand at the brick wall that separated his office from the potions lab, and it promptly turned into a large, open archway that connected the rooms. When he was alone in his office, he preferred the more open space, as the dungeon with its low vaulted ceiling was oppressive enough, and the open archway allowed him to oversee detentions easily from his desk. Only when his class was brewing particularly smelly or volatile potions or if privacy was needed in his office did he close the wall.
"This is really going to be a detention?" Hermione asked, staring at the pile of cauldrons on the nearest working table in consternation.
"Of course. You didn't expect me to favour you, did you?"
"Well, no," she answered unconvincingly. "I just thought we'd continue with the Occlumency lessons tonight."
Seeing her disappointment, he didn't have the heart to continue acting like the strict and mean professor he was – well, at least with everybody else. "I'd rather have you get some rest before we try that again," he offered as explanation. "Defending against attacks on your mind is quite exhausting."
"And scrubbing cauldrons isn't?" she asked with a frown.
He returned her gaze with ill-concealed amusement. "Yes, but it's physical labour. It's supposed to tire your body rather than drain your magical reserves. I find it helps with insomnia quite nicely. Once your body is too exhausted to stay upright, your mind will follow the lead."
She sighed. "So I guess I'm not allowed to use magic?"
"No, Miss Granger, you'll do it the Muggle way. Use the cleaning powder on the top shelf."
Resignedly, Hermione shrugged out of her school robe and threw it over a chair. With its long, flowing sleeves, it was completely unsuitable for the task she'd been given. She grabbed the first cauldron and hauled it over to the sink. "And here I thought he had quit being nasty and vindictive," she muttered to herself while reaching for the brush and the soap.
"I heard that!" he called, head bent over his essays again. When she threw a quick glance over her shoulder, she thought she saw a hint of humour lurking in the corner of his mouth. "You'd better be careful, Miss Granger. I'm pretty sure Mr. Filch wouldn't be so generous as to give you the good cleaning products when he makes you clean the lavatories..."
"You are aware that threats lose credibility when overused, aren't you?" she retorted. "I know you can still be mean, but not that mean."
This time, he just gave her one of his trademark pointed glares that conveyed meaning quite well without words. Okay, so that particular weapon was still pretty effective. "I'll be good, now, I promise," she quickly backpedaled, not putting it past him to make good on his offer, amused or not.
His eyebrow quirked, but he didn't comment further. For a while, they both silently concentrated on their tasks. While his mind was occupied with the corrections he had to focus on, hers was free to wander, and that was dangerous. Sooner or later, her thoughts would either end up circling war-related issues or they'd inevitably circle him. And just now, with him present, that didn't seem advisable.
Instead, she thought back to the strange conversation she had had with Luna a few days ago, which brought a question to mind that had bothered her ever since.
"Are you, by any chance, behind the new sleeping arrangements the headmistress has made for me?"
Professor Snape looked up. His face, though no longer hidden by long hair, didn't reveal much of anything. "If she gave you Miss Lovegood as a roommate, then it might indeed be attributable to a suggestion I made. Why? Are those arrangements not to your liking?"
Hermione gave him another smile. "They are, very much indeed. Thank you! Luna is great. She's – I don't know how to describe it... serene, is the most fitting word, I guess. She's so calm about everything. I can't remember ever seeing her panicky or even remotely concerned, no matter what the circumstances. One would think that after being held hostage at Malfoy Manor, she'd be traumatised as well."
"It certainly wasn't the most agreeable place to be at the time, but at least nothing bad befell her there," he said, his face darkening. "Contrary to you, Miss Lovegood was treated reasonably well."
"Yes, I know. Draco brought her food, news and other things she urgently needed, like bottle corks and such."
He blinked, then shook his head. "No. I'm not even going to ask."
"I'm sure she needed them to cleanse Malfoy Manor of evil or something. At least it seems to have worked with Draco. He has changed a lot."
Although Luna's theories on the workings of the world were decidedly strange, Hermione was reluctant to dismiss them outright. In her experience, they too often hit the mark. Hermione had told no one about her visit to the dungeons and the fact that she had fulfilled her vow, but although Luna had no way of knowing, she had delightedly remarked that Hermione was no longer haunted by Netherfairies the very next day. Before Hermione had gotten over her surprise, Luna had added regretfully that Hermione now seemed to have caught the Bluedrags instead.
'It's not surprising, really – Hogwarts is infested with them,' she had declared sombrely. 'Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do about it, except paint everything pink, but the headmistress wasn't enthused about my suggestion. Let's hope that once the people are healed, they'll vanish from the walls, too. If only there weren't so many infected... the castle is practically glowing like a rainbow with so many of its inhabitants walking around with coloured auras. I'm pretty sure I'm having a slight case of Gloomilows myself, too, but nobody will tell me.'
'Glue-me-lows?' Hermione had echoed a bit stupidly.
Luna hadn't seemed to mind her ignorance. She had dutifully explained that the latter was just the more common name, as Bluedrags was slightly misleading. After all, not everyone's aura turned blue when infected. Hermione's, for instance, was a deep yellow, which had Luna concerned.
'Why?' Hermione had asked, feeling a bit unsettled herself. 'What does yellow mean?'
Luna had looked at her as if she had just asked a particularly interesting question. 'Oh, that I don't know,' she had answered. 'It's the true colour of your aura. Usually, everybody's aura appears white. A colouring indicates that you've caught the Bluedrags, which are making you sick. The good thing about them is that they also reveal your true colours. And you should really go and see Professor Snape more often. His aura is deep purple. He's been infected with Gloomilows for as long as I can remember.'
Slightly alarmed, Hermione had asked for the reason for this particular piece of advice. She had been wondering if Luna was just being exceptionally weird or exceptionally perceptive again. Luna herself had obviously thought that it was self-explanatory and had responded with an unspoken, but clearly discernibly 'duh' in her voice: 'Because exposing your Gloomilows to each other's astral radiation will kill them, of course.'
Hermione shook her head, remembering the funny conversation, and wiped her forehead. All this scrubbing was making her sweaty.
"What are you smiling about?" her professor's questioning voice interrupted her musings. He had noticed Hermione's flushed and happy face when she took the next cauldron off the pile. "Cauldron scrubbing is not supposed to be entertaining."
He briefly wondered if her blush and her smile had anything to do with the mentioning of his godson. He had seen them both in the library again today, amicably sitting next to each other, heads bent over some tomes and engrossed in a friendly discussion.
"I know," Hermione replied, smiling even more widely. "Trust me, it isn't. I was just thinking of an entertaining conversation I recently had."
He halted his quill, looking at her with a rather peculiar expression. "With Draco?"
"No, why? With Luna."
Oh. Well, he had just had a rather odd conversation with Miss Lovegood himself. Strange girl, that one. "Really?" he asked back, clearly interested now. "Did she tell you that you're giving off purple steam, too?"
Hermione looked at him, mouth agape. Surely Luna hadn't... Who was she kidding – it was Luna – she probably had. "No, mine's actually yellow," she answered solemnly, trying to keep a straight face. "And it's not steam, but radiation. I've been told it complements yours nicely."
He snorted and busied himself with arranging the corrected and uncorrected essays into neat piles, tidying up his desk. "I saw you and Draco in the library today," he then remarked casually. "It seems that your relationship has changed for the better..."
Hermione brightened again. "Yes, it certainly has. Draco's been really civil towards me, lately. It's hard to believe he's the same boy who kept calling me Mudblood with such disdain."
"Draco, too, had a role to play. He just didn't know himself how much of his demeanour was brought about by other people's expectations and how much was born out of his own convictions."
"Yes. Being raised by bigot parents and fed this nonsense of Pure-blood supremacy with his mother's milk probably makes it difficult to question those beliefs. The fact that Harry saved his life in the Room of Hidden Things – after Draco had attacked him with the intent of delivering him to Voldemort – gave him an epiphany."
"He had been questioning the Dark Lord's goals long before that. I could sense it, but I didn't know how to support him without endangering my position. I tried to gently nudge him, but he didn't recognise my efforts for what they were. His dear aunt Bellatrix was constantly whispering into his ear, and the responsibility for his parents' welfare lay on his shoulders. It was a heavy burden to carry for a rather fragile boy."
Not having been able to help Draco was one of his own most weighty burdens. He had failed him just like he had failed his other godson, having managed to save his life only at the cost of his soul. He should have done more.
"It's a good thing that you didn't lay your cards on the table back then," Hermione said, unaware that she seemed to be responding to his thoughts. "Draco admitted that himself. He told me that he was torn at the time and that it could have gone either way – with him coming over to our side or betraying you to Voldemort instead."
"He actually admitted that to you?" He looked surprised. "I hadn't realised that you had become quite such close friends..."
She shrugged. "It's not like Draco has a great many people to choose from right now. He's the only seventh year student from Slytherin who returned, and most of the other houses consider him a traitor. He's the boy who tried to kill Dumbledore, after all. I guess I became his confidant for lack of options."
"No," the head of his house objected, shaking his head. "Draco is a Slytherin to the core. It's not in him to bare himself in such a way to anyone – unless he's very trusting of the person. It's obvious that he holds you in very high esteem, Miss Granger."
"Or I'm just a good sounding board. Many people tell me of their problems nowadays."
That much was true. It had been obvious in the memories he had seen. "You have proved yourself to be extremely loyal and trustworthy. It's a characteristic Slytherins value above anything else."
"Really?" She lifted her head, giving him a sceptical look. "I thought it was subtlety and cunning that they valued most."
"Those are qualities Slytherins possess," he corrected. "But they value what is not so easily found in their house. We usually admire most in others what we find ourselves lacking in."
She pondered that for a moment. "Yes, I suppose that's true. Slytherins don't wear their hearts on their sleeves, but I always thought that actions speak louder than words, anyway. Gryffindors are always so – boisterous. They know no discretion, no patience. I like that Draco doesn't always have to comment on everything. I can tell him stuff without him immediately shouting out his outrage or his enthusiasm. He just listens, waits until I've sorted out my own feelings and gives his opinion only in a very minimalist manner. He's making me think instead of telling me what I should think."
Hermione realised that the same was also true for her Potions Professor. It proved the proverb right that opposites attracted. Gryffindors and Slytherins certainly were as contrary as it got. She heaved another cauldron on to the slowly growing pile of cleaned ones and took off her woollen cardigan, too. It was getting much too warm in it. For once, she welcomed the cool of the dungeon air on her skin.
"I find it amazing that you're even talking to each other amicably, considering your past differences," her professor remarked, while she attacked the next cauldron with her brush.
"I admit I thought for years that he was just a conceited prat and that there was nothing of substance behind his good looks and his family's fortune. I saw him as just as two-dimensional as he saw me – Harry's sidekick, a Mudblood, a nerd. He acted like it was expected of him when antagonising and insulting me. Granted, he didn't question his behaviour back then, but we were children... I can't hold his past actions against him, not when he's clearly making an effort to be different now. He even apologised to me."
Severus gave her an astonished look, then quickly turned his gaze back to his papers. Seeing her just in her blouse with the material clinging to the skin of her back seemed slightly indecent. Strange, that he would think so. He'd seen plenty of girls scrubbing cauldrons in their school blouses before – it wasn't the kind of work that could be done in the robes with their long and flowing sleeves. But none of them had ever led his mind on a path it shouldn't wander. Or made him feel warm just by watching their arduous, sweat-inducing efforts.
"So – you're friends with Draco now?" he asked, trying to lead his thoughts out of slippery terrain. Maybe not entirely successfully.
"I guess so..." Hermione paused, giving the question some thought. She probably could call him a friend. "He's a very complex person, intelligent and misjudged. I always found myself drawn to those people, and I strongly believe in second chances. I think that underneath his arrogance, Draco hides a very sensitive and vulnerable heart."
"Yes, as his godfather I can confirm that to be true." Once again, he was astonished at her insight. "And... are you sure that there are no tender feelings involved?" he inquired, making an effort to sound nonchalant. It was quite possible that Draco felt more for her than just friendship. And just as possible that she returned those feelings.
"On whose part?" She looked at him and frowned. Surely he didn't mean to suggest... or did he? "I told you about my feelings," she said, feeling anger rise at his insinuation. "And now you're asking if I feel attracted to Draco? If you didn't believe me, maybe you should check next time you're in my head!"
He immediately realised his blunder. "Miss Granger..."
"No – don't 'Miss Granger' me now!" She threw the sponge into the cauldron and wrung her hands. "Seriously, just think about what you're saying by even asking such a thing! You're either accusing me of lying to you, suggesting that I'm fickle, or belittling my emotions by implying that I don't know my own heart! And with all of that, you're basically saying that I'm shallow."
"Of course you're not! I never meant to..." He took a deep breath. "It wasn't intended to sound like it did."
"So how exactly did you intend to sound? Do you still find it so hard to believe that what I told you was true?"
"To be totally honest, yes," he said bluntly. "It's surreal. Sometimes, when I see you in Potions class, I still wonder if I haven't imagined the whole thing."
"Well, sometimes, when you're telling me off and calling me 'Miss Granger' in that scornful tone of voice, I wonder the same thing! You wanted us to pretend nothing happened. So of course it seems surreal!"
He sighed and rubbed his eyes. "You're right. And it was also me who told you to go live your life and kiss some boys, which I still think was the right thing to say and still would be the right thing to do. It's just – thinking about it now, I find that I don't like the idea very much."
At his admission, her angry scowl slowly morphed into a tender smile that made her eyes shine. The transformation was bedazzling. "Good," she said, and all of her anger had fled from her voice. "Because I don't like the idea either. And I will do no such thing. I like Draco and his company. But I don't like him like that. I don't like any boy like that." She sighed and fished the sponge out of the water. "I like you. And I miss you."
He struggled for words, but couldn't seem to find the right ones. "You see me every day," he said, pointing out the obvious instead.
"Yes, in class, or at meals, sitting at the staff table. But that's different."
He wasn't obtuse – he knew exactly what she was talking about. He just preferred not to talk about it, not even admit to himself that he wished he could treat her differently – that he could sit down and have a glass of Firewhiskey with her, listen to her chattering, get her point of view on things and wonder about the crazy conclusions she often came up with, become a confidant for her secrets, her concerns and her hopes and... no. It couldn't be like that. Funny, how he craved something he had only gotten a brief taste of.
"I'm trying my best to only see my professor in you," the girl said, echoing his thoughts. "But it's kind of a strain to pretend there's no big white elephant in the room with us."
She had that right as well. It was actually more a small herd of elephants, but it was better if she remained unaware of them. There was nothing that could be done about them within reasonable time anyway.
"I just wish there was some middle ground," she said wistfully.
He gave her a thoughtful look. "Maybe there is..." he mused, wondering if what he had in mind perhaps allowed for a little more confidentiality than their current teacher-student relationship. He got up and came over to the table next to the sink, inspecting the result of her labour. She had cleaned about two thirds of the cauldrons, but was making only slow progress now. Her arms were probably getting heavy, and her hands must be burning from the fairly aggressive soap.
"You may stop now, Miss Granger," he said, surprising her once more. "I wanted you tired, but not exhausted to the point of passing out in my lab again."
"Maybe I could finish the remaining cauldrons with magic?" she suggested. It was nice of him to remit part of her penalty, but she was reluctant to leave her work unfinished.
He shook his head. "No. It's impossible to vanish the remains of Sticking Potion with magic. It doesn't work."
She gave him a puzzled look. "What? But I always thought..." She had thought that he was just being spiteful by forbidding the use magic for cleaning cauldrons in detention. He had never explained this small, but important fact to anybody. "So, who's cleaning them, usually?"
He smirked. "Usually, I make sure that I have detentions to oversee when any of my classes are brewing Sticking Potion."
"And now? Will you have the house-elves do it?"
He rolled his eyes. If he did that, he was sure that she'd insist on staying and finishing the work herself, despite the fact that she was having a hard time lifting her arms now. "No, that particular kind of soap is much worse on their skin than on a human's. I'll finish it myself later. Here..." He held out her cardigan to her. "You'd better put that back on. You don't want to catch a cold on top of everything else. Even if you don't feel it right now, it's chilly in here."
Hermione obeyed, marvelling again at his caring side that he kept so carefully hidden. He waved her over to his desk and pointed at the chair opposite from his. "Sit. I have a suggestion for you."
Curious, she sat down in what she had began to think of as her armchair, as he once again transfigured it without a second thought. He reached into the shelf with all those horrible jars behind him and took a out a little pot filled with salve which he held out to her. "For your hands."
She gratefully accepted the offered relief. The cool balm immediately soothed her irritated and burning skin. "You know... You are really incredibly nice if you want to be..." she said, watching as he poured two cups of tea and put one of in front of her.
He gave her a scowling glance, as if to belie the statement and his action. "I trust you to be able to keep a well-guarded secret, Miss Granger."
"Oh, don't worry. Nobody would believe me anyway. Your secrets are safe with me." It didn't go unnoticed by him that the last part was spoken like an afterthought and without the teasing note. And although he had just said a common phrase without thinking and wouldn't ever dare to reveal his real secrets to anyone, her words still touched him. What would it be like, he wondered, to really be able to trust someone? He hadn't ever had that luxury. Trust was an entirely foreign concept to him and he wasn't quite sure if he envied people who were capable of trusting others or if he should call them stupid.
"So what kind of suggestion were you talking about?" she asked, steering the conversation back into safe waters and sparing him the need to come up with a response that, most likely, would be lacking again.
"I was wondering if you'd be interested in officially becoming my assistant. I would appreciate having more time for doing private research, and you're more than capable of brewing most of the supplies for the hospital wing and helping to correct the lower year's essays. It's also a nice cover story for the time required to teach you Occlumency. I can't keep giving you detentions – it would ruin your reputation as a Goody-two-shoes."
"I'm not!" she huffed.
"You're not interested?" he asked, taken aback by her spontaneous rejection. Admittedly, it was not the answer he had expected.
"What? No – of course I'm interested! I'd love spending more time with you, and I love brewing. But I'm not a Goody-two-shoes."
Ah! He leaned slightly forward, his eyes glittering sardonically. "I have known that since first year, Miss Granger. For all your trying to be a good girl, we both know you're not. You have this rebellious streak in you that requires a firm hand... but that still hasn't sunk in with the majority of staff. They consider you a paragon of virtue, a shining example to the rest of the student body. Little do they know..."
She blushed. Yes, if they ever learned some of the things she had done... set her Potions Professor's robes on fire in her first year, stole ingredients from him to secretly brew Polyjuice Potion in her second and attacked and stunned the same professor in her third. She had captured and blackmailed a reporter of the Daily Prophet in her fourth, lured the former headmistress into the Forbidden Forest to be abducted by Centaurs in her fifth, hexed a fellow student so he wouldn't get on the Quidditch team in her sixth, broke into Gringotts and stole a dragon in what would have been her seventh year and more or less bullied her Potions Professor into kissing her in her eighth. If they knew all that, they'd doubtlessly be shocked, even more so if they knew what thoughts she entertained about said teacher. Hell, he'd probably be shocked, too. Just to be on the safe side, she quickly evaded his gaze and re-focused on the discussion at hand.
"Do you think the headmistress would agree to me becoming your assistant?"
"Actually, the idea came from Professor Sprout. She's thinking of offering Mr. Longbottom an apprenticeship after getting his NEWTs and wanted him to do some field work beforehand. Let's face it: For a lot of those students who are repeating their seventh year, the curriculum is not challenging enough. Though they have gaps in their education in some classes due to last year's circumstances, a lot of what we're teaching is old news to them. You're not the only one who finds herself bored in classes, Miss Granger. Thus the idea of offering special projects to students with an affinity for a subject. The headmistress was quite taken with it."
"And you think I do have an affinity for potions?"
"As a brewer, yes. As a potioneer? Probably not. But you're the only one I would work with."
"So this is meant to lay the ground for a later apprenticeship?"
He shrugged. "It might. While there haven't been apprentices in Hogwarts for a long time, it used to be quite common a few decades ago. But a couple of teachers are thinking of retiring, and the idea of training their own successors clearly has merit. Poppy mentioned that Miss Abbot might be interested in the medical field. She has proved invaluable during the battle."
"And has the headmistress also suggested that you take on an apprentice?"
"Funnily enough, no."
"I can't imagine why!"
"Cheek, Miss Granger!" he admonished, but hid a smirk. "Apart from the obvious reason of thinking that I would never consider such a thing, she knows that I wasn't planning on staying. Surely not long enough to train an apprentice."
"Oh... You are seriously thinking of leaving Hogwarts?"
He sighed. "Honestly, I don't know. As you surely have realised, I have not become a teacher out of vocation."
"You're still making a good job of it."
"There are not many who would agree with you on that."
"Well, you'll never make it to the top rank of Hogwarts' most liked professors, but students do respect you. Now that you're not as horribly unfair anymore as you were before, I think you're actually pretty good."
"You're probably a little biassed." She had admitted to feeling attracted to him and she had kissed him. It was safe to say that she was a special case among his students.
"Yes. Definitely so. But so are most of the older students who are still here. Let's face it – in three years, hardly anybody will remember your role in the war and how it forced you to act. You can be the teacher you want to be."
"I have zero tolerance for stupidity. That's not a good starting point for teaching mostly dunderheads." He strongly and passionately hated it if people didn't engage their brains before talking or acting, which happened all too frequently. It wasn't so much to ask, really. But some students never seemed to get the knack of it, and that angered him beyond measure.
"Oh come on, we're not all that bad! Most of us are doing a well enough in the NEWT level classes."
"Yes, but only because I set the entrance levels high enough to keep the worst imbeciles out," he argued. "I have no such choice with the younger students."
"Well, then maybe you should work around the problem. Everybody knows that you like teaching Defence, too. Maybe you could concentrate on both NEWT level classes and let Minerva find someone else to teach the lower OWL ones. I know for sure that Remus would prefer working part-time only, and he's really good with the younger students."
He pondered this. It was certainly an interesting idea. Teaching only the older students would give him time for his private research. He could probably do some commercial brewing, too. And Minerva would be happy if he stayed. It wasn't easy to find a teacher for NEWT level potions. The idea was certainly worth more intense consideration.
"Notwithstanding what may happen in my future, my offer stands. So you're interested?"
"Of course I am!"
"Then I will speak to the headmistress. I will see you on Wednesday at the latest for your next Occlumency lesson."