The Sugar Quill
Author: Silver Phoenix (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Bury the Hatchet  Chapter: Chapter 2: Unexpected Arrival
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Bury the Hatchet

Author's Notes: Strangely enough, I have nothing to say here besides a huge thank you to my beta, Night Zephyr! You rule, as always. Also, thanks for all the kind reviews so far! I feel so loved and welcomed to SQ! ^_^

***

It was pale, early sunlight spilling onto her face that woke Professor Granger up. She groaned as she began to slowly opened her eyes…hadn't she just returned from the trophy room?

Hermione gave a yelp as her vision cleared to reveal someone peering down at her. She blinked a few times before she realized who the sandy haired, blue eyed, spectacle-sporting man was.

"Good morning, darling!" he exclaimed energetically, flashing his very straight, very white teeth. Hermione tried not to groan again as she glanced over at her clock. It was only five o’clock in the morning.

"Charles…" Hermione mumbled as she sat up, rubbing her eyes. "First of all, what in the world are you doing here, and second of all, what in the world are you doing here at five o’clock in the morning?"

Beaming, he produced a tray from behind him and set it on her bed. "Why, I've brought you breakfast in bed, honeycakes!" he said brightly. It took all of Hermione's willpower not to cringe at the word honeycakes.

She had been seeing Charles Griney, Head of the Department of Finance at the Ministry of Magic, for nearly a year now. In fact, it had been around this time, early September, that she'd met him a year before. When they had first met, Hermione had found Charles enthusiastic, kind, and sweet. Now…well, Hermione still thought he was sweet, and very nice…but his occasionally overzealous attitude, corny nicknames, and excited chattering slightly annoyed her.

"Why, I'm here with the Minister for Magic, sweetheart," Charles explained as he carefully filled a goblet with orange juice. "He chose me to accompany him to the Sorting Feast…I think it's marvelous that he's decided to attend such an important event at Hogwarts each year, it gets the children so excited…"

The young teacher briefly tuned out as she sat up and began unenthusiastically munching on a piece of toast. She had never really felt very strong or powerful feelings for Charles. Not as strong as her feelings had been for…oh, for example, Ron Weasley…

That, Hermione chided herself, was a girlish infatuation. A stupid crush.

She glanced up at Charles, who was still talking, oblivious to the fact that she wasn't listening. Professor Granger smiled weakly up at him.

Anyways, she decided as her boyfriend chattered on, what I have with Charles is much more reasonable. He's dependable, he's reliable, he's…he's…

"Still talking…" Hermione murmured, unaware of the fact that she'd said it out loud.

" - and…what's that, pumpkin?" Charles asked, interrupting himself in the middle of a lengthy, tedious sentence.

"I said I should really get dressed and ready now that I'm awake anyway," Hermione explained, smiling sweetly. "I'll see you later in the Great Hall," she insisted as she hopped out of bed and began leading him out the door.

"Well, all right…see you later, snookums," Charles said, flashing his pearly white smile, then leaning forward for a kiss.

Hermione leaned in quickly and gave him a peck on the cheek, then closed her door with a sigh.

***

Professor Granger hurried into the Great Hall, where tiny Professor Flitwick and Professor Willows, who easily towered over her colleague, were setting up the long house tables. They floated them through the air with swishes of their wands.

"When are the students due to arrive, Kathleen?" Hermione asked the tall, slender Herbology teacher.

"Soon, I hope." Professor Willows replied, landing the Ravenclaw table with a bang. "I'm rather hungry."

"Should be any minute now, Hermione," Professor Flitwick piped up, checking his over-large wristwatch.

Hermione glanced around the Great Hall. A few other members of the staff were making last-minute preparations for the feast, while several of the Hogwarts ghosts floated above them, silvery and transparent. The bewitched ceiling was a deep blue colour; stars were just beginning to appear, winking down on the Great Hall.

"…not a clue," Flitwick was saying to Professor Willows in his high-pitched voice. "It's a strange new character every year. And each seems to be crazier than the last!"

Hermione smiled slightly as she realized what her former Charms teacher was talking about. True to the strange tradition that had begun in Hermione's first year at Hogwarts, there had been a different Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher every single year without fail. When Snape, to everyone's great surprise, finally got the job in Hermione's seventh year, everyone was sure at least he would last awhile. Hermione flinched every so slightly and forced herself to think about something else.

"White and Ramone seemed to have started up a rumour at the end of last year that the new teacher was going to be a gnome," Willows was saying, unable to contain a smile. Flitwick burst into tiny giggles and Hermione snorted. Paul White and Roger Ramone were, without a doubt, the Fred and George Weasleys of the new generation of Hogwarts students.

"Hopefully the students keep in mind that White and Ramone also started the infamous rumour that Filch's cat is really an alien," Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

"Ah, but that rumour did have some truth in it, Professor Granger," said an amused voice behind her. Hermione turned around to see Albus Dumbledore leaning on his cane. "I myself have had doubts that Mrs. Norris is an ordinary cat. I'm positive her alien counterparts are scheming to beam her back up any day now," he said with a twinkle in his eye, hobbling up to the three of them. "Is everything set for the students?"

"Headmaster," Hermione began, her tone considerably gentler. "Perhaps you should take a break…sit down for a bit…"

"Nonsense!" Dumbledore insisted with a wave of his hand.

"Your health, Headmaster," Hermione reminded him in a soft voice.

"Not to worry, Hermione, I feel fit enough to wrestle a Hippogriff," Dumbledore assured her with a wink, then limped up to the Head Table.

Professor Willows sighed. "The poor dear. His health has just been going downhill ever since…well, around this time last year."

Chewing on her lip, Hermione didn't respond, just sadly watched Dumbledore's frail, retreating form. It seemed so…wrong. Dumbledore had always been omnipotent, unstoppable – his presence alone was reassuring to all of the teachers and students, just as it had been back when Hermione herself was a student. Even with the dark shadow of Voldemort looming over the school, Dumbledore had remained calm, had protected them.

But then again, Hermione reminded herself, when they had needed his protection most, Dumbledore hadn't been there. Not until she was crouched, sobbing, over Snape's lifeless body, while Harry proceeded to be violently sick on the dungeon floor. Dumbledore had turned out to be human just like the rest of them – he'd felt the constant fear and anxiety too, and had mourned for the lives lost as well. He'd even been completely powerless at some points, just as helpless as the rest of the wizarding world when it had come to some things.

Still, he remained the most powerful wizard of their time. And to finally see age catching up with the fiery old wizard was heartbreaking.

"Professor Granger," a crisp voice said. Hermione jumped a little and spun around. Apart from the flecks of gray that were starting to appear in her chestnut-coloured bun, Minerva McGonagall looked exactly the same as Hermione remembered from when she was a student. But just now, McGonagall was standing right behind Hermione, looking furious.

"What is it, Professor?" Hermione asked in alarm. She would never be able to call Professor McGonagall by her first name.

"White and Ramone," McGonagall said through clenched teeth. "I need you to deal with them…I'm supposed to be greeting the first years. This way," she said as she walked briskly away. Professor Granger hurried after her, following the strict professor into the Entrance Hall.

Paul White and Roger Ramone could have passed for brothers. Both had messy brown hair, wore their robes loosely and casually, and had a knack for getting into trouble. The only difference between them was that Paul was a bit shorter than his tall, gangly best friend. They were standing behind a group of burly seventh years, hoping to hide. However, Roger's untidy brown hair was just visible, sticking up from behind a Ravenclaw seventh-year student.

"So," Professor Granger said as the seventh years quickly moved aside to reveal the pranksters. She and McGonagall gave the boys identical strict looks. Both mischief makers smiled innocently up at them.

"Professor Granger, these two troublemakers decided it would be…" McGonagall rolled her eyes, "…amusing to bewitch the Hogwarts carriages to take them to Hogsmeade instead of the castle."

"We would never do such a thing!" Roger insisted, sounding scandalized.

"The carriages decided to take us to Hogsmeade all by themselves!" Paul said, his eyes wide. His innocent act was ruined by Roger's untimely snickering.

"My office, boys," Hermione said sternly. The shoulders of both students slumped dejectedly as they followed her into her office.

"Since the school year hasn't even started yet…" Hermione shot the two boys a glare as she sat herself at her desk. Paul and Roger seated themselves comfortably in the chairs opposite her. "I won't deduct points from Gryffindor."

The boys grinned hopefully.

"Don't think you're getting off the hook," the strict witch continued wryly. "By pulling that little stunt you could have endangered Hogwarts property, the other students in the carriage, and yourselves. Detention for both of you tomorrow night. I know Professor Drago needs some help organizing potion ingredients in the dungeons…"

At this both boys sat up, complaining loudly at the same time. Hermione sighed and held up her hands for silence.

"One at a time," she said flatly. "What's the excuse today?"

White and Ramone exchanged glances, then finally Paul spoke up. "Professor Granger…" he began dramatically. "You can't send us into those dungeons…alone…with her…"

"And why not?" Hermione demanded crisply.

Roger took a deep breath. "Professor Granger," he said, clutching his heart. "Drago…is trying to kill us both."

Hermione couldn't help it; she barely managed to stifle laughter. Pressing her lips very tightly together, she managed to control the giggles that had suddenly threatened to escape. Taking her lack of a response as a good sign, the mischievous pair continued.

"She's made three separate attempts to take our lives thus far," Paul continued in a long-suffering voice. "I think it's just because we're Gryffindors…"

Hermione couldn't help smiling dryly at that. The one thing Hermione liked about Diana Drago was the fact that she didn't favour the students in her Slytherin over the others. The one thing she strove for was to be fair everyone. However, this one positive quality certainly didn't mean Hermione was Drago's biggest fan. Usually, the potion master's fairness policy just meant that no matter what house you were in, she'd have a witty, sarcastic remark about your poor workmanship ready for you at any given time. But at least she wasn't just torturing the Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws or Gryffindors. Slytherins got told off, too.

"And uswell…if you send us down to those dungeons…" Roger continued.

"You'll never see us alive…again," Paul finished, sniffling dramatically.

Hermione stared at them blankly, and then slowly shook her head. "So. The Potions Mistress is plotting to murder you? I must admit, it's one of your more creative excuses. I give it an eight-point-five for imagination. Now, despite the fact that this was one of your best performances yet, you still have detention."

The boys tried their best to look hurt.

"Oh, get to the feast; we've probably already missed the Sorting," Hermione said with a sigh, standing up.

"Ah well. We tried," Roger said brightly.

"Yes, I s'pose. Brilliant acting, Roger, old boy. Truly, it was, by far, your best performance," Paul said cheerfully.

"Same to you, old chap!"

Hermione couldn't stop the grin tugging at the corners of her mouth as she ushered them out the door. Professor Granger leaned against the door frame as she watched the pair run off to the Great Hall . Deep down she was rather fond of the two boys, despite their frequent run-ins with the Hogwarts law.

"Hope you weren't too hard on the rascals, Professor," said a teasing, vaguely familiar voice to her right. Wrinkling her forehead, Hermione turned her head to see who it was.

Leaning against the wall and grinning from ear to ear was a man, around her age, with flaming red hair and boyish blue eyes. He was rather tall and had the look of someone who had gone from being very skinny and gangly to very athletic. It took Hermione's astonished brain a few seconds to properly process what - or rather, who - she was seeing. When she finally realized who it was, she nearly had a heart attack.

"Ron?!"

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