The Best Laid Plans
I was pacing in the hallway of the Headmistress's office. Inside Molly Weasley was officially being interviewed for the position of Transfiguration teacher, but more than likely the two were chatting. Soon she would walk out of the office, and down the hall, where I would happen to bump into her. Oh hello Molly, you're looking well. Yes it has been a long time since the Order. I was wondering if you felt like having a cup of tea? Why? Well, it would seem I'm secretly in love with Hermione and I'd like your advice.
That sounds utterly stupid.
I closed my eyes and groaned. In truth, I didn't have much of a clue of what I would say, or how I would say it. But Molly had been in the Order with me, and she also had known Hermione for as long as Harry had. She was also the only person I could think of to talk to about this.
Down the hall the sound of the stone gargoyle sliding into the place made me stop. I felt my heartbeat increase in my chest. That would not do at all. I forced myself to calm down. Act normal. I may have de-aged but I still have the experience beyond my years. I can do this. This will not make a fool of me.
Feeling relaxed, I turned my steps to stroll down the hall, toward the voices up ahead. I had gotten to the point where the hall turned to be in front of the office, and froze. Hermione was there. Molly had her in a warm embrace.
"-had no idea you were here at the castle!" Hermione's voice was muffled from the hug.
"I could be here every day, dear. I think our Professor McGonagall is going to let me be the Transfiguration teacher!"
"That would be so great!" Hermione pulled back to look Molly in the face. She looked incredibly happy. I considered slipping back behind the corner and waiting for another day, maybe sometime next Christmas, but Molly looked up.
"Severus! Didn't see you walk up!"
"Sorry for intruding." I mentally patted myself on the back for keeping my voice even.
"Merlin's beard, they said you were younger but I haven't seen you like this since your first year as Potions Master."
I tried not to roll my eyes.
"Hello Professor." Hermione turned to me.
"Hello, Miss Granger." I felt nervous. Strange how I hadn't before. "Is it break time for you?"
She nodded. "I was going to look out these windows to see if the way to Care of Magical Creatures would be muddy, and I happened to bump into Mrs. Weasley. She says she could be the next Transfiguration teacher."
I nodded. "I was aware, but couldn't tell you." I looked back at Mrs. Weasley. "You have an answer then?"
She shook her head. "Minerva says she'd prefer to think things over. I was going to go down to the Three Broomsticks to wait; it's been a very long time since I had anything I didn't make, and we seem to have a bit of extra gold these days." She smiled. Relief at the end of the war, and Arthur's new prominent place in the Ministry, had obviously done wonders for her. "Were you interested in my joining you for a cup of tea?"
"Ah... yes, but I can join you at the Three Broomsticks if you want." A nice talk in a relaxed area would probably be better.
"Good. Then you run along, Hermione, dear. I'm going to take off for a while, but I'll see you later."
"Alright. Give my regards to Harry, will you?"
"Alright dear." Molly gave her one last hug, and Hermione turned and walked off. I watched her go for a minute, then turned back to Molly.
"Did she say Harry?"
"Yes, Severus." she smiled. "I had told Hermione I'd be waiting at the Three Broomsticks with Harry before you walked up. You're on good terms with him now aren't you? I'd heard from Ginny you were."
"Yes. Of course." Oh no.
"Good, then it's settled."
I felt like a truck had hit me. Luckily, thirty minutes later when I was sitting at a table in the Three Broomsticks across from Molly while Harry got our drinks, it only felt like a a run away broom had hit me. In the gut.
"Severus, are you feeling alright? You look paler than usual."
"I'm fine Molly, just, thinking about something."
Harry walked up, three mugs in his hand. He passed them out. "Here you go Severus. It is so weird calling you that." He put my down in front of me. "Did you know that's Hermione's favorite drink too?"
I nodded. "Yes, she told me last time we were here." I took a long drink. Though it was one of the larger glasses, when I pulled away it was half drained. Molly looked at me concerned.
"Severus, would you prefer something stronger?"
I shook my head. "No, I don't drink."
"Feeling nervous about something, Severus?" Harry asked, waiting to sip from his.
"As a matter of fact, I am."
"Well, it must be something big to rattle you." He brought the glass up to drink. "What is it? A problem in the paperwork getting your potion marketed?"
"Oh yes, I'd heard about that." Molly cut in. "A huge breakthrough! There was an article in Witch Weekly about it, did you know?"
"Yeah," said Harry. "cause Neville told me about it. He was cited as one of the people who used to melt their cauldrons."
"I remember that, did he really go through that many?"
"I think the number was bigger, actually-"
"Not to interrupt," I said, my voice a bit louder than usual, "but I do have a bit of a problem."
"Of course Severus." Molly began kindly. "What is it?"
I gulped. "It's... a bit of a private matter."
"Should I go?" Harry asked.
Molly held his arm a moment, then looked at me. "Does it have to do with your de-aging?"
I shook my head. "No, that seems to be going according to plan. My memories are well, and I aged as I should when my birthday passed this year."
"How old are you?" Harry asked.
"Twenty-four... again." I replied. "They took fifteen years, apparently."
"Ah, to be young." Molly replied wistfully. "I remember when I was that age. I had two boys and felt so in love with Arthur."
I took another long swig of my drink.
"That's it, isn't it, Severus? You're in love?"
I just managed not to spit it out. I didn't manage to keep from coughing. Molly had to pat me on the back. When I spoke, my voice came out much sharper than it had been. "You really do just come out and say things, don't you Harry?"
"I learned it from you." Harry toasted me. I gave him an icy look then sat up straight, rubbing my forehead my free hand.
"I'm not sure. I didn't think I was until the other day."
"What happened, Severus?" Molly asked.
"The Gryffindor and Slytherin seventh year Potions. They were my first N.E.W.T. class to finish Amortentia."
"That's that very powerful love potion, isn't it?" Harry asked. I nodded. "I remember that. It smelled like Ginny's hair for me."
"Well, it smelled like someone for me, too."
"Who?" they asked together. Their tones did not meld at all.
"It's... not exactly easy to say."
"Was it Hermione?" Harry asked.
I looked at him. "Why do you think that?"
"Well, I've never seen you around many people. And you've been spending a lot of time with her. And, I've never known you to be dodgy on a subject. Ever. At all." He took another sip. "Closest you've ever come is irate, and that isn't how I'd say this is."
"You're in love with Hermione, Severus?" Molly's question held more surprise than shock.
"I hope not." I looked at the table as I spoke, feeling slightly sick.
"She doesn't know?" Molly asked.
"No, the lesson was yesterday. At first I'd thought her perfume was stronger than usual, but this morning was Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, and their Amortentia smelled like her, too." Feeling better, I took another sip. "You're taking this a lot better than I assumed you would."
"What did you expect to happen, Severus? A yelling fit and things thrown at your head?"
"After hearing how you can react..."
"Then why did you come to me in the first place?"
I sighed, my eyes circling the room vaguely as I answered. "Because this isn't something I would go to McGonagall or Albus with, and I don't have a lot of choices. Besides, you know her well."
"Yes, but she talks to you." Harry interjected. "And she chooses to have you in her company."
"I am aware of her personal choices, as well as her current trust issues, with everyone, and probably relationships."
"Yeah," said Harry, looking at Molly. "She just had a very bad time with Ron the last time we were here." He looked back at me. "So what do you want to do?"
"I have absolutely no idea. The whole thing is almost arcane to me; it's been ages since the last time I had to deal with love, and it didn't exactly end up in my favor then, did it?"
Harry looked upset, but I couldn't meet his gaze. Molly broke the tension. "It's been a long time. And while I don't know if I approve, I do know it's impossible to deny the heart. And, you have to figure out somehow if she feels the same way."
"Don't worry Molly. I have an idea."
She looked at me kindly, but sadly. "Good luck."
I nodded, then drained my glass.