A/N: The plot for this little story came to me on Halloween and practically insisted on being written. It took awhile to get it to a place that I felt good about but it's finally ready to share.
It's is set in 2009; Hermione just turned 30. (Interesting tidbit: I needed a Halloween on a Saturday and '09 was the only year within reason that actually had Halloween on a Saturday. Darn Leap Years.) It is canon-compliant but ignores the epilogue. Obviously Severus is alive. It was written as a one-shot but will comprise two chapters on this site because of length.
Special thanks to my great beta-reader TheUltimateBibliophile for getting this proofed within hours of me sending it to her (from across the world) and for not abandoning me completely for being the slowest writer in the history of forever.
Halloween at Hogwarts
Hermione Granger was positively dreading the next task on her rather lengthy to-do list — an understandable reaction considering the name written on the parchment that lay before her. She sighed and tapped her quill agitatedly against the paper as she stared at it, causing droplets of ink to mar the otherwise tidy surface. She wished that she could simply erase the name and forget that it had ever been written there, but that wouldn’t do. She simply had to grit her teeth and go talk to the man. She had procrastinated far too long already. It was already midday on the thirty-first of October.
After the final battle, eleven year previous, and her subsequent sojourn to sit her N.E.W.T.s, Hermione hadn’t planned to ever live at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry again. Minerva McGonagall, the current headmistress, had been fairly desperate, though, when she had reached out to her former pupil to cover the vacant Muggle Studies position until a suitable long term replacement could be found. At the time, Hermione had been in a transitional period of her life. She had gone about as far as she could go within the Department for the Regulation of Magical Creatures and had been feeling rather disillusioned as of late, both with public service and the wizarding equivalent of political red tape. Minerva’s offer, though surprising, couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. She had been nearly thirty, childless, and single since her and Ron’s on-and-off-again relationship had finally ended for good a few months prior. Upon receiving the older witch’s owl, she had given her notice at the Ministry, put an ad in the local paper to sublet her flat, and had packed her belongings.
Even though she had never really fancied herself a teacher, as a Muggle-born who still had strong ties to the world that her parents lived in, she proved a natural fit for the Muggle Studies position. Professor Burbage had taught the course when she had been a student and while the late witch had certainly had good intentions, her curriculum had left quite a lot to be desired. Professor Daucet, who had held the post in the intervening years since the war, hadn’t done much better and had retired without much fanfare the previous term. Hermione had thrown out nearly all of her predecessors’ lesson plans and had singlehandedly revamped the entire course before the start of term. She was quite proud of her accomplishment, and her students — who would’ve ever thought that she’d have students! — seemed to truly enjoy the class.
One of her major objectives had been to provide her students with a plethora of hands-on learning opportunities. Most children born and raised in the wizarding world had an extremely limited knowledge of all things Muggle and had never been given the chance to interact with Muggle items. Her classes had marveled at the rather simple objects that she had brought in to show them and she had only needed to hand out ball-point pens to win their unwavering favor.
As October rolled around and Hagrid’s massive pumpkins began to appear around the castle, Hermione had decided to augment her curriculum even further by planning a night of Muggle trick-or-treating for her pupils. It would be easy to do several weeks of lessons on the various Muggle holidays and customs before culminating in a fun interactive event on Halloween. In planning, she had originally thought to talk with the residents of Hogsmeade and then take her students door to door there but when she had discussed the idea with Minerva, the older witch had suggested a simpler idea. Instead of having to explain the concept of trick-or-treating to the entire village and implementing the precautions that would be necessary to take a moderately large group of underage witches and wizards outside of Hogwarts’ magical protections, the students could trick-or-treat around the castle instead.
Over the past few weeks, Hermione had spoken with her fellow teachers, the school Prefects and Head students, the house-elves in the kitchen, and even the House ghosts about participating. They all had been more than willing to help and most had even been enthusiastic about the venture, planning costumes and decorations in addition to the sweets that they were to hand out. Even Filch had agreed to help after much cajoling. By the morning of Halloween, nearly everyone was on board with the plan, everyone except the one person that she had been loath to even broach the subject with — Severus Snape.
Hermione frowned at her orderly checklist again. She had to speak with him. She was too much of a perfectionist not do everything in her power to ensure that everyone participated. Even if he flat-out refused, which she thought was highly likely, she would still be able to check off the box beside his name and be comforted by the fact that she had at least asked. The other thing to consider was how the prickly wizard would respond if he learned that she had spoken with the entire staff about the event save for him. Snape barely acknowledged her existence as it was; she certainly didn’t want to give him additional reasons to hate her.
With a deep sigh of resignation, Hermione allowed the parchment to roll up upon itself and stood from her desk. Rolling her shoulders to dispel her unease, she grabbed her bag and headed down to the dungeons. She knew that she’d be able to breathe easier once this unpleasant task was complete.
In a subconscious effort to delay the inevitable, she took the long route from her office to the bowels of the castle, mentally rehearsing what she planned to say as she walked. When dealing with Snape, it was preferable to be well-versed and prepared rather than winging it. As her teacher, he had always seemed to know when she was less than a hundred percent confident in what she was saying.
The classroom laboratory was empty when she reached it, but she had expected as much. It was Saturday. The Potions Master had never given private tutelage, even if a student desperately needed it, and she had long suspected that he did his personal brewing in a separate lab — one far removed from the prying eyes of noisy children, like she had once been.
With a slightly guilty and indulgent smile at the remembrance of her own misdeeds in the dungeons, she ventured on to Snape’s office. Based on her rudimentary knowledge of the school’s wards, she knew that if she knocked on his office door, he would be alerted even if he was somewhere else within the castle. Her office worked the same way. It was handy magic, especially, she assumed, for a Head of House that was likely called upon at all hours of the day and night. In this instance, she at least knew that the wizard wasn’t trying to sleep in. He had been present at breakfast with his usual sour demeanor, not speaking a word to anyone during the entire meal.
With a desire to get this whole ordeal over with, Hermione rapped sharply on the door. She expected to have to wait for an answer — her nerves would’ve likely preferred it that way — but a masculine reply came almost immediately.
She did as she was bid and let herself into a space that hadn’t changed since she was a child. Odd specimens still floated in jars of mysterious liquids on the crowded shelves that lined the room. She doubted whether he had ever even used any of the pickled and preserved items — they were simply on display here to intimidate wayward students that found themselves in their presence. She stifled a shiver. They worked on adults as well.
Focusing on the room’s only human inhabitant, she forced herself to smile at the man behind the desk. He had hardly changed in the past decade either — same lanky hair, same sallow complexion, same disgruntled disposition. He looked up from an essay that he was evidently marking and met her gaze.
“Miss—” He stopped, let out a quick, impatient sigh, and corrected himself. “Professor Granger."
She tipped her head in greeting. “Professor Snape.”
They still hadn’t progressed past formal titles even though she was on a first name basis with the rest of the staff. He had a difficult time even remembering to address her as a colleague. Of course, he had barely said five words to her in the two months that she had been working at Hogwarts so she could hardly expect better.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?”
The word ‘pleasure’ sounded like a four letter slur on his sharp tongue, but she tamped down her annoyance and reminded herself what she was there for. She continued to smile at the ornery wizard. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”
He sat his quill down and stared at her for a moment before answering in a bored tone. “Seeing as I was not expecting you nor sitting idle, you’re obviously interrupting something.” His jaw twitched. “However, it was nothing that cannot wait. What is it that you require?”
She blinked. Merlin, but he could be difficult. She mentally shook off his snide reply. “I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it, but I’ve been planning a special event for my Muggle Studies students tonight.”
“I may have overheard rumors of such a thing,” he allowed, his face a study in stony emotionlessness.
She had thought as much. Was he already annoyed that she hadn’t yet approached him? Nothing for it, really. Better to carry on. “Several of the other professors — well, all of the other professors — have agreed to help out. I doubt that it’s your type of thing, but I wanted to ask if you’d be interested in participating.”
She looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to decline, but he simply raised a single brow in question. She swallowed and wondered what had possessed her to come down here in the first place. “Are you at all familiar with the Muggle custom of trick-or-treating?”
He didn’t display any outward recognition but his lack of reaction hinted that he had at least heard the term before. She knew that he was a half-blood, had been raised in a Muggle neighborhood, and had been friends with at least one more or less “normal” Muggle family. It wasn’t completely implausible that he had celebrated Halloween as a kid.
Her curiosity, ever a burden, got the best of her. “Did you ever trick-or-treat, Professor?”
A muscle jerked in his left cheek. “No, Miss Granger.”
She let the regression of title go and pressed on. “Well, in an effort to teach them about Muggle holiday customs, I’ve charged my students with dressing up in costumes of their own design and going around the castle to collect sweets. I’ve talked the staff, Head students, prefects, and even a few of the ghosts into playing the intended targets. It should be fun.”
Again his unnaturally neutral expression spoke of his doubt, probably with her use of the word ‘fun’. She smiled but knew that it had grown thin. “You certainly don’t have to help. I just wanted to ask.”
She was on the verge of standing up, taking his silence as dismissal, when he finally spoke.
“And what of the tricks?”
Hermione blinked. “Excuse me?”
He let out a long-suffering sigh before explaining himself. “The premise of trick-or-treating is that if a Muggle dwelling does not provide a treat then it will be tricked, is it not?”
“Oh. Well, yes, traditionally,” she replied, settling back in the chair again. “But I didn’t give anyone permission to pull any tricks.”
He made a noise of derision. “And you believe that your lack of permission ensures that the dunderheads of this school won’t do something anyway?”
Memories flashed through her mind of all the school rules that she and her friends had broken in their time here — Hell, she had set the man in front of her on fire — and they were quote/unquote “good kids”. He wasn’t wrong. She bowed her head slightly in concession. “Uh, no. I see your point.”
“So it seems,” he began, drawing out his words as he pierced her with his gaze, “that you have placed me in a position where I must participate in this farce of yours or risk retribution.”
She almost laughed. Almost. “I don’t think that it’s quite that dire, Professor—.”
He cut her off. “As I see it, if I prefer not to, let’s say, have my office covered in raw eggs, lavatory paper, or flaming Niffler feces, then I must give up my free evening to hand out sweeties to your idiotic classes.”
“You seem to know a great deal about a custom that you claim to have never taken part in.”
Snape sneered and the expression unsettled her somehow, even though she had seen it many, many times as a student.
“You asked if I had ever trick-or-treated, Miss Granger, not if my house was ever the victim of a Muggle prank.”
“Professor,” she corrected, suddenly annoyed with his flagrant dismissal of her rightfully earned moniker.
He blinked. “What?”
Hermione squared her shoulders. “Professor Granger, not Miss Granger.”
The wizard waved his hand as if flicking away her comment like an errant fly. He obviously couldn’t have cared less about what she preferred to be called. “What time is this ridiculous charade set to begin?”
“After dinner, from seven to ten.” She reached into her bag, removed a brown paper sack, and set it on his desk. “I purchased candy for you to hand out so that you aren’t out any personal expense. It’s an assortment of Muggle chocolate.” She glanced up at him. His face was a blank mask again. She tried her best to smile. “I appreciate your assistance with this, Professor Snape. If I can ever return the favor, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
He picked up his quill and returned his focus to the essay that he had been grading when she had interrupted him. She took this reversal as her cue to leave, stood, and turned towards the door. His deep baritone stilled her hand on the knob.
“That is unlikely to happen as I have never required my colleagues to teach my classes for me.”
She closed her eyes and breathed through her nose for moment to stem her temper. He could be so bloody difficult. She desperately wanted to respond with a cutting remark of her own but bit it back. Lowering herself to his level would not solve anything and he was doing her a favor. She turned the handle and opened the door before glancing back over her shoulder. His eyes were on the parchment in front of him but a self-satisfied smirk tugged at the corners of his thin mouth. “I’ll see you this evening, Professor,” she bid before quietly leaving the man’s office.
Once out in the corridor, Hermione shook her head in exasperation and headed back to her chambers. All in all, the encounter had gone surprisingly better than she had expected. He was always going to be a bit of a git, even if he had been a war hero, but at least he had agreed, if under duress, to participate. She now had all of the school’s teachers signed up, an accomplishment that gave her a feeling of pride. The kids would have fun tonight because of her efforts.
Returning to her to-do list and crossing off Snape’s name, she pushed the taxing conversation with him to the back of her mind and tackled her reminding tasks. She still had to pass out sweets to the various participants, including putting bowls of candy in previously agreed upon areas for the House ghosts to supervise, approve some of her students’ last minute costume changes, and get her own ensemble ready, which would require some creative transfiguration and charms. Plus there would inevitably be last minute fires to put out.
By the time dinner had concluded that evening, Hermione was nearly wishing that she hadn’t come up with this particular plan to begin with. It had turned out to be a rather hectic day. Thankfully the bulk of the hard work was behind her and the fun was finally about to begin. She returned to her quarters directly after eating, as did all of her Muggle Studies pupils, in order to get ready. Hogwarts’ first ever bout of trick-or-treating would commence in less than an hour.
Thirty minutes later, Hermione was admiring herself in the full length mirror in her bathroom. She was pretty proud of her costume and the spellwork that it had required. Trying for a bit of irony, she had fashioned herself as an iconic Muggle representation of a witch. Her brown curls had been transformed into coal black locks that fell past her hips in a straight, stringy curtain. Her face, neck, and hands were vivid green, her eyes gold with catlike black pupils. Her nails had been lengthened into sharp black talons. She had enlarged her nose, drawn her chin out to a point, and added a few unsightly warts to each. Her ensemble, transfigured from a set of her usual teaching robes, consisted of a pointy black hat with an oversized silver buckle and a long-sleeved black dress that ended mid-calf to reveal green and black striped tights and high-heeled black boots with toes that curled up towards the ceiling. She looked like a cross between the Wicked Witch of the West and every Halloween cartoon that she had ever seen as a child. She picked up the rickety, ancient broomstick that she had borrowed from the Quidditch supply shed — with Rolanda’s permission, of course — and glanced back at her reflection. The picture was complete. She grinned, checked the time, and hurried to her classroom to meet with her students.
For the first time since she had begun teaching, all of her pupils, from third to seventh years, were in one place at one time. The large group laughed and applauded when she walked into the room and it was several raucous minutes before she could explain what she was dressed as. One girl, a Ravenclaw pureblood in her sixth year, decided that their professor looked more like a hag interviewing for a job at a nursery school. This announcement made the group laugh even harder.
In turn, every single one of the kids had outdone themselves in regards to a costume. It took nearly a quarter of an hour for Hermione to inspect and grade (based on effort) each one. Some had gone with magical concepts — there was a Hippogriff, a Golden Snitch, and two Dementors. Some had attempted Muggle getups — a baseball player, a taxi driver, a hot dog, and a confusing ensemble that turned out to be “the internet”. Others had gone with more generic costumes, like cats, ghosts, and famous people. Her favorite of the group, though she would never admit it, was a Hufflepuff fourth-year who had had a penchant that term for being the class clown. He had come dressed as Harry Potter, complete with Gryffindor Quidditch robes, round wire glasses, and a lightning bolt scar. She had awarded him an ‘Outstanding’.
Once attendance and costume grades were recorded, Hermione separated the class into smaller groups and handed each one a scroll with the names and approximate locations of each participant that would be handing out sweets. Though largely on the honor system, students were expected to visit each stop before the end of the evening. She had enlisted several Muggle-borns that didn’t take her class but that had grown up trick-or-treating to chaperone each group and assure that they correctly executed the custom. She herself would tag along just to oversee that all went according to plan.
After suggesting that they each start at separate points so as not to cluster up, she sent the overly excited students on their way. She ended up joining the group with Thomas Caplin, the boy who had come dressed as Harry, and trailed behind him, a black dog that was possibly meant to be a Grim, a unicorn, a Tinkerbell-esque fairy, and the Muggle Prime Minister. They decided to start with the Charms corridor and work through the list in a manner that made the most sense spatially.
Hermione had far more fun than she had initially anticipated and she wasn’t alone in that sentiment. Several of the other professors had really gotten into the spirit of the event as well, dressing up in various guises and decorating their classrooms or posts. The Head Boy and Girl had elected to take over the Great Hall and created a haunted house of sorts, aided by the fact that the Head Girl was a half-blood and had celebrated the holiday with Muggle relatives when she was younger. Even Peeves, who Hermione had specifically not included out of fear of his behavior, had made the evening more enjoyable by playing the trickster. Two entire corridors of the castle had been covered in loo paper but that would be easily enough remedied with magic the next morning.
Each group of trick-or-treaters that they passed seem to be jovial and in high spirits, talking animatedly about the various sights that they had encountered. As her group made their way through the castle, students kept stopping them to thank her for organizing the evening or to relate something funny that had happened to them — there had been several wardrobe malfunctions and more than one student had been covered in ectoplasm. Throughout the night, quite a few students stopped to ask if she had been to the dungeons yet — enough that she became suspicious as to what might be going on down there. Unfortunately because of their chosen route, the Potions classroom would be their last stop of the night and no one would tell her why everyone was mentioning it. All anyone would say was that they didn’t want to “spoil the surprise”. Hermione hoped that Snape wasn’t being tortured and simultaneously worried that he had taken to torturing her class instead.
Her group finally made it down to the dungeons with ten minutes to spare. The Potions classroom was their last stop and she was positive that their little pack had taken the longest to finish their list because they had been waylaid so often. She had timed the event just right and allowed herself a small smile of satisfaction before a wisp of dread descended upon her. After so many comments, she was somewhat afraid of what they were going to find. Whatever the outcome, Snape would surely hate her forever after tonight.
Trailing behind the students as they entered the school laboratory, she heard the gasps of shock several seconds before she could see what had caused them. Once the group spread out a bit in the classroom, she understood exactly what everyone had been talking about.