I opened my eyes and sighed. Tuesday. Potions was easily my favorite class, and it wasn't for two more days. Even if all I'd be doing was monitoring my brew and stirring, coming in each week to notice the slow change from a mere bubbling of ingredients into an actual potion was a transformation I'd never tire of.
I sat bolt upright. Transfiguration! Today was Mrs. Weasley's first day as teacher. I looked at the door. Should I dress quickly and grab breakfast in the Great Hall? Taking meals publicly ran the risk of having an unpleasant conversation, but meals in my rooms meant I'd waste precious time cleaning up by myself afterwards Or worse, I grimaced, force the House Elves to make a special trip. Again I considered the Great Hall; food would already be waiting there- if I rushed there and back I could make it to class long before anyone else did. Satisfied, I mentally prepared excuses should anyone try and talk to me; I didn't want to be caught by anyone and put in a foul mood.
I grabbed my robes and the black tight knit shirt and leggings that were the usual undergarments for them. I was hopping on one foot to the bathroom, still struggling into my chaps, to grab a hairbrush and run it quickly through my hair. My lack of care made my long brown curls even frizzier, but I didn't mind. It was tangle-free, and my run through the halls would inevitably smooth it out a little, just as Herbology made me look like I had a brown halo around my head.
I slid back into my bedroom on socked feet, slammed my feet into my soft black boots, and then pulled my robes down over my head. Excellent. One look in the mirror, strike a silly but dashing pose, grab my wand, and out the door.
Rather than slip my wand into one of my robe's pockets like I usually did, I waved it and muttered a small spell pointing to my shoes. Instantly they glided across the stone floors like roller skates. I then hid my wand and smiled. Magic wasn't allowed in the corridors, but this would only last about three minutes. Snape was usually there and back by the time I rose, so there wasn't a chance of anyone catching me before the spell wore off. It did, just as I was nearing the long stairs that led up into the main level.
I rushed into the Great Hall, grabbing what was closest to me and wolfing it down. I was done in about the same time it had taken me to get there. Not a moment too soon, because people had been on their way over to grab my attention. I waved and then rushed off.
Back in my rooms I brushed my teeth and washed my face and hands, then I walked over to where my bag was on the floor. This I slowed down for. I made sure I had all the quills and ink I would need, as well as my assignments and books for Arithmancy. Once I'd double and triple checked I had everything, I left.
Taking the side passage that lead to the halls, I swiftly strode down the corridor. When I again reached ground floor and kept climbing, I let my eyes wander along the portraits and paintings. Most of them were still asleep; people gathered around tables, horses dosing in glens. A few of them were awake; trees blowing in a breeze, children throwing a ball back and forth. In roughly no time at all, I'd reached the Transfiguration classroom.
Everything looked the same; the tables lined up side by side, the boards and objects used for practice in their usual order. However, standing next to a large solid metal statue was Molly Weasley. She appeared to be enchanting it so that copies of it started growing up from the ground in front of each seat. I watched her do this, marveling at her concentration and her ability to use wordless magic.
She turned toward me and her usual smile broke out over her face. "Hermione! Oh, Miss Granger." She paused in her magic, half done, and walked over to give me a long hug. I smelled cinnamon and spice among all the wonderful smells of her kitchen. She let me go and I looked into her face.
"I suppose it's Professor Weasley?" I asked, smiling.
"Oh come now." She fussed back over to where she had been, and more statues appeared. Again I was highly impressed.
"You can do that and talk to me at the same time?" I marveled.
"Well of course dear. I did raise seven children, after all." she chuckled. I walked up to one and touched it. Solid.
"McGonagall gave me very specific notes on where she'd left off. Your class will be creating copies, one per student. I expect progress by the end of the lesson, but, you can already do this, can't you Hermione?" she said, looking proud.
I blushed. "Thank you M- Professor Weasley. But, honestly I've never tried this kind of magic."
"Just a bit of practice then, dear? Not before class starts, though. Wouldn't want people to go around thinking you're a cheating type."
My face darkened. "They seem to think enough of me already."
She looked at me, her face sad. With a large flourish of her wand, the last few statues appeared in front of the last few seats, and she walked over to me putting her arm around my shoulders. "I'd heard from Harry and Severus you weren't doing too well. Tell me dear, what's been bothering you?"
I sighed. "It feels like everyone's just so quick to judge me, as either a hero or a slacker. There's been some students who are even trying to pick fights or things, thinking I've gotten too full of myself after what happened in the Wizarding War." She looked aghast. "Oh, don't worry! They're the minority." I looked down. "Most people are of the opinion I'm some great hero who deserves honors heaped on her."
"But you are, dear." she smiled. "You, Harry and Ron did us all a really big favor. Severus, too."
"But I don't want honors heaped on me! I just want to go back to being normal. Not being a personage, or receiving gifts from people who worried they teased me before. I'm still the same person, but it feels like no one's letting me be."
She patted my shoulder. "Surely it's not all bad?"
I smiled eventually, my eyes wandering. "No, not really. The teachers seem react to me like they always did. And it's not everyone in the school; time's going by, and tests are coming up. Most of the 5th and 7th years are too busy now to really do anything, and anyone under 4th year wouldn't know what to say to me even if I wasn't some 'great important person.' And Snape..."
"Snape?" she ventured.
"Snape's been really wonderful. And that's so weird to say, because I spent so much of my previous time here under the impression he was the biggest dolt that ever lived. But, now that everything's over, it really seems like we're in the same boat. People don't know what to think of him, either. Except no one's really hero worshiping him. Most people are still trying to wrap their minds around how one person can play double agent on such high stakes for so long."
"Two sides of the same coin, then?" she said, brushing a piece of hair from my face in a motherly gesture.
I smiled, looking back at her. "I think so. And, I think in his way he's even beginning to trust me, a little."
She looked thoughtful. "Yes, I think so too."
I was surprised. "Has he said anything?"
She opened her eyes wide. "Oh! No, nothing in particular. But, I do think he's come around on you. And from the way you're talking, I think you have about him, too."
I thought for a moment. "I think I did a long time ago, and just didn't realize it. I knew a teacher at Hogwarts wouldn't do anything evil, and deep down, I think I always knew he was fighting for our side. Things just got so out of hand and impossible, that it seemed no longer possible for him to really be helping us. But, the fighting's over, and now that the proof is out there that all along my hunches about him were right... it feels normal to trust him. With everything that goes with trusting a person."
She nodded at my words, the same odd, thoughtful look on her face that had been there.
She blinked a few times, then looked down at me, patting my shoulders again. "Best call me Professor when the students arrive." The bell rang. "Ah, and here they come! Alright dear, take your seat, and I'll finish getting ready for your classmates."
I nodded, feeling confused. She bustled off to finish getting the room ready, and slowly I went to sit down. My usually on-top-of-things mind was coming up short as to what the look on Mrs. Weasley's face had been about.
"What," I said under my breath, looking at the iron face of the statue in front of me. "is going on around here?"