I Don't Remember

With and Without Will

Severus

That morning I decided to skip breakfast in the Great Hall. Minerva's recent grapple with her age continued putting me off; it bothered me to see her having to use a walking stick to keep her balance, as I'm sure it bothered her too. Recently, though, she had stopped coming down to the staff table to eat, preferring to take her meals in her room. Realizing it was even worse to see her empty chair next to where I sat, rather than look at it I had food brought to my room.

Not that I wasn't busy anyway. The owls had been sent, and soon Andromeda Tonks and Molly Weasley would be arriving at the castle. Rooms had to be prepared. Questions had to be drawn up. With every other teacher busy with N.E.W.T.s and O.W.L.s, and the potion laced cauldrons cutting my work in half for me, the job of the interview scenarios fell to me.

"Question... one..." I spoke aloud as I wrote. I'd carefully positioned the plates of eggs, baked beans, and toast around to not get anywhere on the parchment, or to accidentally be stabbed by an unwary quill. "To what level can you comfortably Transfigure?"

Of course, the whole Hogwarts staff knew the answers to the questions I'd be writing. Both Molly Weasley and Andromeda Tonks came from long lines of wizards and witches. They were both pure blood. They had both fought in their own ways in the wizarding war, and were both known to posses great skills in magic. The real test would be to see how they spoke, to discern if they could command the respect of a class the way McGonagall had been.

I looked at the ceiling. I didn't know if anyone could command a class like McGonagall. Not even I could command a class like McGonagall. She seemed to posses this intelligence and power that seeped through her skin and onto those around her. Like Albus, she had a presence. But where his had been calm and serene, hers was like a tiger waiting to claw you if it became impatient. A kind woman, though. So kind. Kind enough to think of Granger.

I stood and paced, walking over to the windows. I briefly caught a glimpse of my young face, and half smiled. So much seemed to have happened in the months since I woke, rebuilt my muscles and then got out of St. Mungo's when the coast was clear. I had watched sunrises and sunsets without fear. I had made friends with an ex-student I thought I'd hold a grudge against forever. I had been forced to keep tabs on a young woman who was once half my age and now less than 10 years my junior. And oddest of all, the last didn't bother me so much.

Hermione Granger. The daughter of two dentists. Getting much better in potions than she had been, now that she had opened her mind. Stubborn beyond compare when it came to certain things. My student. And perhaps... my friend. There are many things I would do for McGonagall, but trying to comfort someone isn't really one of them. The more I went over it, and thought about things myself, the more I realized... The only one having a problem with it was me.

I turned my head from the reflection in the window and looked around the room. Even in my personal quarters, the only decoration was the Slytherin house crest over the mantle. Everything else was utilitarian. Even the bed resting in the alcove was simple; a firm mattress for a firm man. Books were everywhere; low pile carpet was where they weren't. A large desk, a few chairs, and torches lined the walls. "Sparse" hardly began to describe.

It had always been enough, when I pushed myself away from others. However, perhaps a bit of relaxing of my standards was in order. Accepting my charges, for starters. Hermione did need watching, Minerva needed to know her words meant something to me. I could try and take her words to heart, and accept the friendship of a certain bright young lady.

I didn't have to tell anyone, though.

A few minutes later and I had five questions ready to drill the possible new staff members when they arrived Friday evening. A wave of my wand had the papers on my desk stacked, the plates sent back to the kitchen, and the torches dimmed. I walked from the room and closed the door.

The soft smells of the potions that greeted me sent a real smile to my face. I inhaled deeply, letting wafting smells fill my lungs. Not all were equally finished, and some were obviously botched (some people just refuse to learn), but I truly enjoyed my craft and the practicing of it.

Remembering work, I pulled out my wand and began the task of putting everyone's cauldron by their desk. From the looks of things, Hermione's potions were dead on. She wasn't alone, but hers seemed the best. Obviously she'd learned her lessons well.

The door opened. I looked up to see the object of my thoughts this morning walk in. "Good morning, Miss Granger. In early to check on your work?"

She smiled. "Good morning, Professor. No, here early because I am." She went to put her things down, and I continued setting up the class. I had gotten to Misses McKendrick and Nobel. Briefly I considered sabotage, but no one would benefit from that; no matter how they behaved, they needed to learn how to brew potions.

"Professor, if everyone's making Amortentia potions, won't we have a the problem of people becoming a bit... excited by the scent of what they love all around them?"

I raised the hand not holding a wand to show her the contents. Inside was a small vial. "One drop on the tongue will be enough to still anyone who goes overboard. It will nullify the effects temporarily, long enough for the lesson to end."

As I kept slowly levitating the cauldrons she came into view, looking at each person's work with interest. I wondered how much she knew. "Can you tell what some people have done wrong so far on their Felix Felicis?"

Her answer came without hesitation. "This person added honey at the wrong time." She pointed to the cauldron that was a dark amber, which looked as though it was starting to boil. "And that one has too much diamond infusion. " The surface of the potion looked as though a constant wave was blowing over it, and it sparkled constantly.

I was impressed; she noticed the same things I did. "Very good Miss Granger."

"It seems like everyone's done the Amortentia right, more or less."

"It's no real surprise; that potion is done more to the book than the Felix Felicis. You need an imagination to get Liquid Luck done correctly."

"So I have an imagination, then, sir?"

"You should realize that the given directions are not always best, Granger, as you read my book."

It was an odd kind of deja vu to be talking to her about this, since just this morning I had been thinking it. But, also kind of pleasant; kind of like we were having this conversation on purpose.

"Professor, I'm curious about something."

Of course you are. "I will alert the Headmistress immediately."

"It's kind of a personal question, but also academic."

"Yes, Miss Granger?"

"What does Amortentia smell like to you?"

I stopped. It was actually good timing, because I had just finished my work prepping the class. This was personal, and it set me on edge to be asked such a thing. But also a good chance to prove to myself that I meant that I wanted to change, and return trust with trust. Still, I couldn't look at her. "The truth is, Miss Granger, Amortentia doesn't smell like anything except its' ingredients to me."

I saw her staring at me. "Why, sir?"

I walked around to behind my desk and sat down. "I imagine its because the only person I loved has been gone so long I no longer remember what she smelled like." I started pulling papers from my desk, assignments I intended to grade during today's busy time.

"Why... why did you tell me that, Professor?"

I gathered myself and lifted my head to look her in the eyes. "Because I want you to be able to trust someone, and know that someone trusts you."

The class bell rang, and students began to pile in. Miss Granger took her seat, amid slight friction in the air. I gave the students who gave off the most heat already a stern look, then stood and circled around to be in front of the desks.

"Today we will be finishing the Amortentia potion and adding the last ingredients to the Felix Felicis. That is not to say the Felix will be done. It still has months to brew, and during that time it will be your responsibility to ensure nothing befalls it that will endanger your grade. Please note that you are forbidden from tasting your Liquid Luck at any time. This counts for before, on, or after the finished date" I folded my arms and slowly turned my head around the room. "Begin."

The usual bustle of movement was my signal to sit back down and get to work. Just before I sat, however, I saw Hermione staring off into space. I wouldn't allow that. I caught her eye and gave her a stern warning of my impatience, and she snapped up and hurriedly began. I nodded to myself and sat down.

The paper grading was easy. I breezed through the third years reports, and the fifth year classes practice essays for their O.W.L.s, commenting on their notes and giving a chastisement here, a begrudged word of praise there. Perhaps it was just my shift in attitude, but things seemed much easier, lighter.

The air in the room changed. I looked up and saw multiple people swooning slightly where they stood, the smoke rising from the cauldrons twirling and dancing in the space above them. I stood and walked to the front of my desk.

"It would seem that everyone has finished their Amortentia Potions. You are now instructed to keep an eye on your Felix Felicis; it will continue to brew and settle until the day of your N.E.W.T., when it will be graded. This is a non-ingesting test for obvious reasons. not the least of which the number of students going to the Infirmary if it's even slightly botched. For now, I would like everyone to pour a draught of their Amortentia into the vials I have placed on my desk for you, label them, and return them to me."

Clusters of students came up and, one by one, grabbed a bottle from my desk. I stood, waiting to collect them as patiently as I was able. Then the smoke of the love potion hit me.

At first, I noticed only what I normally did. The scent of the ingredients that went into making it; a pleasant enough scent, but nothing intoxicating. Then it started to change a little. It reminded me of something... Carriage rides in the snow, hours when I had been working in the classroom, particular visits to Hogsmeade.

I pushed down a rising panic as I realized what was going on. Being careful to keep my face blank, I reflexively grabbed each bottle handed back to me and magicked them away into a special compartment in my desk with a flex of my fingers. Hermione was one of the last. When she handed me the bottle, I was sure. I forced down the rising worries with a curt nod and looking away disinterested. When all had handed me their completed brews, I sat down at my desk, praying no one had noticed the change in my attitude. Carefully, I uncorked the bottle still hidden in the sleeve of my robes, and dripped some onto my tongue.

Relief washed over me as the beating in my chest quieted and my head cleared. I looked up to see Miss Granger watching me. I quickly gave her an annoyed look and motioned furiously with my hands for her to get back to work. Just as quickly, she did so.

After I was sure she was much more engaged in watching her potion and measuring the output of the steam rising from the surface, I leaned back in my chair with a deep sigh. The feelings were gone, and the Amortentia no longer troubled me. But I knew what had happened, and it worried me more than I ever would have cared to mention.

Hermione Granger. The Amortentia reminded me of Hermione Granger.



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