It was easy enough to pretend we were still at Hogsmeade until dinner, where I fielded questions from the Headmistress, ensuring her everything went well. As I talked, my eyes occasionally drifted over to the Gryffindor table, where I noticed Hermione laughing loudly with people around her. A class act, but I wasn't fooled.
The next few days were slightly different. I did notice Granger in the halls every once in a while, but we avoided each others' gaze. Usually it would be because one of us was talking to someone, a student or colleague. Sometimes we just walked by, pretending we didn't see the other. Still, I got the feeling when Thursday came, it would be the same as the other days.
I was half right. Thursday morning the students piled in, listened to my introduction where I commended them for their potions being a thick mud color, and then set to work on their essays. All except Miss Granger, who took her usual seat at the corner of my desk, where I already had a stack of papers from the same class she'd worked for me last time (I'd had compliments that, while there were still zeroes handed out, my handwriting seemed to have been much more legible in where to improve).
"Are you jealous, that everyone is getting to write essays instead of you?" I whispered to her, trying to let her know in, not so many words, I didn't blame her for coming unglued the other day.
She cracked a slight smile, then responded, nose to the table. "Sometimes, but there are other classes. And this grading reminds me of previous years where I proofread Harry and Ron's homework." Her eyes suddenly held a slight pain.
I waited until she looked less upset, then asked. "What happened?"
She shook her head slightly, but I knew it was just to keep tears from coming. "When I saw them waiting in the tea shop, I just instantly ran over. I didn't even notice you'd left at first. It was so good to see them, Ron especially, obviously... We'd all grown close, but it was... Harry, Ron and I all expected Ron and me to be the couple, and during the battle, trying to destroy the last horcruxes, we kissed. That really made it final, I thought."
She blinked rapidly, and turned the quill slightly in her fingers. "Anyway, so, I gave Harry a hug, and Ron a kiss, and Harry was trying to tell me about how he and Ginny were back together, then Ron cut in and started saying that they'd recently worked it out with the Ministry to get internships without having finished their schooling. A reward for all we'd been through, Ron said. That I could stop wasting my time here and go join them."
I almost slapped my forehead. That could have been the worst possible thing to say to Granger, especially after it being the first time seeing her in a while.
She tried to keep her voice down as she continued, but it was hard. "I couldn't believe he'd said that! Harry tried to apologize, but I wouldn't let him. I started to argue, to look for you, kind of a 'can you belive what he said', but I realized you'd left. I honestly thought you had the right idea." She laughed dryly, then put her head in her hand. "You know what happened after that."
I sat there thinking. Asking her if she'd like to leave class would be a horrible mistake. "Any words from them since?"
She sighed. "An owl from both of them. Harry says he'd like to visit us both when he can; he appreciates what you did for me. He also wants to make sure you know he meant his apology." I nodded. "Ron's was less helpful. He said this is just like me, to overreact. He stands by wondering why it can't just be the two of us, why this is still so important to me." She wrote a grade on a paper with a little note even as she spoke. "He seems to think it's all my fault."
"What is all your fault?"
"This. Our argument. That we've broke up."
"What do you think?"
She leaned back in her chair a moment, looking at the ceiling, then leaned back down to whisper furiously. "I think he's being a slimy git, that after all these years of knowing me if he can't understand that reading, writing, working is my life, then maybe we should all just stay friends and he should go and find a nice girl whom he can tell what to do."
I voiced the obvious problem. "And what if he argues with you about it? Tries to get you to stay?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "If he likes me because I don't do what he says, but then he comes at me with excuses to try to get me to change myself, I shouldn't think any more of him romantically." She looked at me over the edge of the parchment. "What do you think, Professor?"
I blinked. "I am hardly an expert in these matters, Granger."
"You're still intelligent."
I scribbled something onto a third year's report on Shrinking Solution, then answered. "In my opinion, a relationship isn't something you have to work at, that a 'bad mood' or a 'bad day' only last so far, and at some point you have to wonder if all the differences distrust, and quick tempers can really be worked through."
"I think you made a good choice for yourself, Miss Granger. I think anyone else you asked would say the same."
She smiled. "Thank you, sir."
"Not at all."
"Incidentally," she began casually. My eyes immediately turned severe. "Think you can give me inside information on the upcoming class schedule?"
I scowled, looking back down at the third year reports. "Not at all. You probably have every textbook memorized already. Giving you even a slight hint would put you head a shoulders above the rest."
She looks disappointed. I didn't crack. Then the bell rang; another lesson gone chatting.
I rose with my students to bid them to the door and collect their scrolls, reminding them one last time to bring a piece of the person they would be Polymorphing. Hermione was, once again, the last to leave.
"You really do seem to be changing a little, Professor."
"I don't notice, if I am."
She shrugged. "When should I tell Harry to be here?"
I thought a moment. "See if he's busy this weekend. Checking up on these scrolls won't take long, and I don't think anything else will take up too much time Friday. We can meet in Hogsmeade again, but the Three Broomsticks this time, if you don't mind."
She laughed at my tone. "Of course, sir." Nodding one last time, she started down the hall. "See you Saturday, Professor."
I watched her go, thinking. Changing a little? Hmmm... I closed the door to the classroom, and smiled.